We work our way south of Moab to run the Bears Ears Ultra.

Monticello is a blast from the past. The bed and breakfast has a sign on the front door that says, “Never lock this door”. Right inside, there is no front desk or any kind of staff to speak of. Instead, there are keys on hooks with your name next to one. You grab your key and head straight to your room. At check out, you leave your key in a little basket, right by the front door. It was almost unreal. No sense at all of a need to leverage anything other than the honesty policy.

Race Report: Bears Ears Ultra

Due to record snow and rain in 2023, we ran a modified course. Normally the course is a wonky 8, but this year it was an out-and-back. Because the normal course has overlaping on itself, we saw roughly 2/3s of the typical course. I would be interested to run the normal course, but it’s out-and-back was wonderful as it was.

Bears Ears Out And Back Course

Bears Ears Out And Back Course


This course is not at all like the trails you run in Moab. Just an hour south, but completely different. There was lots of tree cover via alpine forests and aspen groves. In fact, this reminded us of the Aspen Backcountry Marathon in many ways. We had the joy of an exceptionally green course, dues to record precipitation this year. We also had the joy of numerous stream crossings, as well as traversing up and down a section of trail that was nothing short of a small stream. Needless to say, we ran with wet feet for much of the day.

The out-and-back course starts down a dirt road before switching to a paved road. It is a little over 4 miles before we hit an actual trail.  Once on the trial, you begin a reasonable climb, an accompanying descent, then some up/downs before finally rolling downhill to the turnaround. Fuel up, turn around, and head right back from where you came. The up/downs going back felt much harder, and the last 4 miles on pavement were a bit soul-crushing.

Bears Ears Out And Back Course Profile

Bears Ears Out And Back Course Profile

The weather was generally mild. We ran in short sleeve shirts, with no coats or gloves. While a bit cold for the first hour, we warmed up quickly. Despite reasonably good shade cover, the course does get fairly hot. The change to the out-and-back also required two 11-mile stretches between aid stations. The slog from aid station 2 to 3 was very warm, and we saw a couple of runners struggle there. It seemed to me they hadn’t brought enough water. There was plenty of water along the course, if you brought a filter or treatment drops, and we saw at least one runner take advantage of this approach.

Overall, it was a good run. The wonky 8 appears to have less time on pavement, and that would be a dramatic improvement. Despite the sections on the road, this was still a great time. Worth seeing those massive aspen trees. As a Colorado native, I can honestly say, I had no idea aspens could get so big. That alone is worth checking it out.

Race Website: https://www.madmooseevents.com/bears-ears-ultra

Lowest Point: 8,228 feet

Highest Point: 9,637 feet

Approximate Gain: 7,183 feet

Approximate Descent: 7,183 feet

Annie's Finishing Time: 9:02:34

Scott's Finishing Time: 9:02:34

View all race results by clicking here.