Featured photo for Chubby Cheeks JV

Chubby Cheeks JV

“A date has been set for the THIRD ANNUAL CHEEKS OF GLORY RUN (aka, Chubby Cheeks, Chunky Cheeks, el Chubbo Grande, the Chubster, Chubby Butt Cheeks, the Chubinator, Chubasaurus, el Chubbo…),” wrote Nick, the creator of this Race of Many Different Funny Names. “Nothing has changed, which is just the way I like it. We’ll have four distances: The Big Boys/Girls Race (32 miles – tons of climbing), the Marathon (25.5 miles – tons of climbing), the Junior Varsity (20 miles – tons of climbing), the I Got Lost/Made Up My Own Route and Don’t Know How Many Miles I ran (?? miles – tons of climbing). The run/race/whatever starts and ends at my house (nestled just a half mile from the Horsetooth upper lot).”

The amount of preparation I had done for a run that had “tons of climbing” advertised as many times as there were ascents was nearly as laughable as the John McAfee saga, but that was just as well. Guess I’m a believer in the shock-your-body-into-shape approach.

While this was a self-timed race, this was more of a training run for me: a day to do my first real trail run of the year and enjoy being in the mountains. I chose to do the Junior Varsity course, which ended up being 22.5 miles, not the advertised 20.

I started with the nine o’clockers and ran behind Victoria—who knew the course and trails by heart—for the first half. Then I ran solo, which tested my own route-finding abilities and gave me an opportunity to run a little slower. Just as well, as my quads started to cramp up a little bit for the first time at about Mile 16 and I had to walk a good part of Towers Rd.

Finally, with a few miles to go, two runners came up from behind: my friends Cat and Pete. Both of them had started out earlier due to running the 50K course. It was especially good to see Cat—my running buddy in both the Free State 100K epic and her 47-mile birthday run—and we ended up running all the way to the finish together separated by no more than 50 feet at most times. Just like those other times.

When I got to the finish line—Nick’s house—the splendid weather of the morning had just about given way to a frigid wind- and (light) snow-storm. His home was packed like sardines in a can with ultra-runners, but there was plenty of food to go around. Chocolate cake never tasted as good as after a quad-busting day in the beautiful woods.


Distance: 22.5 miles
Strava data


The view of Horsetooth Mountain Park, Horsetooth Reservoir, and Fort Collins beyond.
[Mile 3.5] Victoria and another runner at the top of Horsetooth Rock taking a quick food break.
[Mile 11.9] Crossing Towers Rd. and encountering some other runners.
[Mile 12.9] Aid Station in Lory State Park.
[Mile 21.4] Running behind Cat the last few miles to the finish.
[Mile 22.5] Finished after 5hr40min of running.
Shoes on the balcony.
Elevation chart: about 6,900' of climbing (and descending) in the Junior Varsity course.
Lots of turns during the course.
The nine o'clockers starting out.