Sunday, May 13, 2012

Altitude Training in El Paso and Cloudcroft

Well, I have 2 months until Leadville 50 mile Ultra and I am really concerned about the 10,000 feet elevation at the start and going up to 12,000 feet over 2 passes.  The elevation gain in Leadville is about 7400 feet so I really have my work cut out for me.  With this in mind,  I decided to run the Franklin Mountains on Saturday and make a day trip to Cloudcroft on Sunday.
Saturday AM headed out to the Henrich Park trail head to run the trails from that side of the mountain.  I drove via Transmountain and squirreled away some Gu's and Gatorade at the entrance on the Tom Mayes Unit of The Franklin Mountain State Park.  At 0700 AM, I was off to tin mine road towards Mundy's gap.  The road surface is really rocky and pretty technical.  I nearly fell a couple of times but made good progress up to the switchbacks which start after the tin mines.   I decided that I really needed to push it and for the first time went on the trail up to the North Franklin Peak.  Same rocks and at some points it is a technical single track.  I reached the summit and my Garmin read out 7,200 feet.
The Highest Point is North Franklin Peak

 That is the highest I can go here in El Paso and noticed a little less oxygen available up there.  The views are spectacular and its amazing how small Cristo Rey which I ran up last week with Run El Paso.  There was a couple up there and was able to capture the moment.

From there I could see the Organ Mountains next to Las Cruces and the Sacramento Mountains in Cloudcroft.  The winds were pretty strong up there as well.  

Next, I crossed over Mundy's gap over to the West Side of El Paso and down to the State Park and down to where I had my Gatorade waiting.  At this point, I had completed 12 miles in 3 hours.  I headed back towards Mundy's gap and again encountered the dreaded rock farm which I knew from the Puzzler was there.  Over Mundy's gap and back down to Tin Mine road and to Henrich Park I was able to complete a 20 mile loop in about 4:45.  The total elevation gain according to my Garmin was 4,700 feet.  From what I read the hallmark of ultra training is back to back long runs, most commonly on the weekends.  You never really have to run more than 26-28 miles on any given day.  The idea is to run the next day with tired legs, and my legs were sure tired the next morning. 

I headed out to Cloudcroft for the 120 mile drive arriving at the city center at 10:30 AM.  Having never run there before, I stopped at the High Altitude Bike Shop and picked up a map of the race course for the mountain bike race that was held a few weeks ago.  I proceeded to run the Osha Loop trail and did a total of 8 hard miles on some BEAUTIFUL single tract trails. 

View from OSHA trail with White Sands in the distance

Single tract section, Green all around!

As I went into the trail, there were several markings for different kinds of wild berries and trees.  It is really indescribable how nice it was to be able to do this run which is so close to El Paso and so different.  Amazingly, I came across a Douglas Fir Tree which was designated as the  "Largest native tree in New Mexico reaching 150 fee in height, 6 feet in diameter and 400 yards of age. 

The total run was for about 2 hours with stops for pictures and catching my breath.  The elevation at the start was 8,600 feet and climbed up to 8,800.  The total elevation gain for the run was 3,100 feet. 

I highly recommend making the trip up to Cloudcroft for some amazing trail runs.  There are many more to be explored and I hope I can come back up there soon.  For more maps and information, check out the New Mexico Rails-to-Trails Organization at  they have a lot of maps and have organized trail building once a month.  The next event will be on May 19. 


  1. Nice blog Juan. Good luck at Silver Rush! See you on the trail.

  2. Just happened on your blog...nicely written!