Winter Series to have two running races in Tri-Lakes

Races 3 and 4 of Winter Series will be held in Monument and Black Forest

Courtesy photo
The Winter Running Series will have two of its four races in the Tri-Lakes area in February. The events will take place on the Old Santa Fe Trail into downtown Monument, and in Black Forest.
Danny Summers

The Old Santa Fe Trail and the heart of Black Forest will be the sites of the third and fourth Winter Series 2014, sponsored by the Pikes Peak Road Runners.

The Feb. 8 Old Santa Fe Trail race, also dubbed “The Dreaded Windy Course,” begins at the Old Santa Fe Trailhead at Baptist Road in Monument. There will be a 5 mile and 10 mile race.

The Feb. 22 Black Forest race, also called “Harry’s Valley of the Dogs,” begins and ends at Wolford Elementary School. There will be a 10K and 20K event.

The Black Forest race is the fourth and final race in the series, which dates back to 1979. In fact, the original event was named the Black Forest Series.

“The race has grown a lot over the years,” said race co-organizer Mike Shafai. “We expect 700 runners to run between each of the two races in Tri-Lakes.”

In 1979, all four races were held in the Black Forest area, just extending the lengths of the loops to add on extra distance for each race.

Some old timers have stories of running though some pretty tough snowstorms with whiteout conditions.

“In 2005 and 2006 we had one to two feet of snow,” Shafai said. “Two years ago the weather conditions were so bad El Paso County Search and Rescue were concerned with frost bite.”

As legend goes, in the early days of the running series local residents of the Black Forest started to object to having their roads overrun with runners for four Saturdays each winter. In the 1980s, the race venues were changed to use four different race venues, while using Black Forest venue for the last race only.

At some point, the name of the series changed from the Black Forest Series to the Winter Series.

After the format changed to different venues, the first race was held at Fox Run Regional Park. But because the Fox Run race had to be canceled due to trail conditions in both 2007 and 2009, the organizers decided to move it to the newly renovated Cheyenne Mountain State Park in 2010.

The second race was held at Fort Carson for several years, using trails around the golf course. When access to military installations was tightened, the venue for the second race was changed to El Pomar Youth Sports Park.

However, due to damage to the El Pomar course, this year’s race was switched to Norris-Penrose Events Center.

The third race was started on the Old Santa Fe Trail at Baptist Road, with the long course heading south onto the Air Force Academy property, and the short course heading north. The third race was also staged from the Shepards/McGraw building along Highway 83 and used the Air Force trails for a couple of years.

When access to the military installations tightened after Sept. 11, 2001, the third race was staged out of Old Santa Fe Trail at Baptist Road and all courses headed north, thus not using any Air Force trails.

“The Town of Monument has been great to deal with,” Shafai said.

Shafai said a portion of the Black Forest proceeds will be donated to Wolford Elementary School.

Race organizers stress that absolutely no dogs or baby strollers are allowed on the course.

Hot chocolate/cider and donuts are provided at the finish line at all venues.

For race entry questions contact John Gardner at 719-338-8639 or at

For questions on courses, team competition, volunteering and the awards dinner, contact Shafai at 719-577-6324 or at

To register for the Winter Series or to get more information please visit The Winter Series dinner and awards presentation is set for March 1 at the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame.