As athletes when asked “what’s your favorite social media platform,” many of us would excitedly reply: Strava. It’s social (you can like and comment on athletes’ posts), it’s utilitarian (it’s a digital training journal), and it’s motivating to be able to follow the best athletes in the world right alongside your local friends in your feed.
Many UD ambassadors have impressive digital trophy cases so we asked a few of them which KOM or QOM or Segment they are most proud of and why…
Ambassador: Justin Simoni
Strava segment: Mt. Elbert West Ridge Loop
Where: Sawatch Range, Colorado
Justin’s comment: Start at the Mt. Elbert trailhead but immediately exit the parking area following the CR 11 west until CR 110J. A wonderful and highly runnable start on a gravel road will warm your legs up for the more difficult terrain ahead. Get off CR 11 and get on to CR 110J as it climbs steeply south for a few miles. Then, head up east cross country at a rock cairn towards Elbert’s west ridge. A little bit of bushwhacking keeps you on your toes and rewards those who recon ahead. Soon, the west ridge bares all! Get ready to gain a half a mile in elevation to the summit of Colorado’s highest point in only a mile distance – a 50% grade! Tag the summit and cruise down the well-maintained standard Northeast Ridge trail down back to the TH and open it up! A great route to test your fitness before grabbing coffee back in Leadville, and for those wanting a little taste of the King Line that is Nolans 14.
Ambassador: Kelly Wolf
Strava segment: Lizard Head to Black Face Mountain
Where: Telluride, CO
Kelly’s comment: My favorite Strava segment is the climb from the top of Lizard Head Pass to the top of Black Face Mountain above it to the north, just outside of Telluride, Colorado in the Lizard Head Wilderness. This climb is just over 3.5 miles but it’s a grind because it is runnable the whole way (gaining 1,800′) but what makes it extra killer is that it starts at over 10,000′. Once you get up to the top you are already so high, over 12,000′, earning a stellar 360-view of the mountains around. The climb finishes with a long ridge line. The best thing is to make this run a loop, about 15 miles total, and if you do you will get to run under the shadow of the iconic Lizard Head tower on the volcanic black soil on awesome singletrack. In the height of summer, the contrast of this soil is immense against the brilliant green alpine grass. It is one of my favorite runs to push it hard to the top then enjoy the flowy trail and beautiful views on the descent. Even for the altitude adjusted, this segment is always hard!
Ambassador: Gabe Joyes
Strava segment: Hardrock Hill
Where: Wyoming’s Wind River mountains
Gabe’s comment: I created this vertilicious segment in 2017 when I was prepping for the elevation intensive Hardrock 100. It’s a lovely mix of climber trail, off trail, old-two track, and game trail. It rewards me with fantastic views of the Wind River Mountain foothills, Sinks Canyon, Red Canyon, and comes with 2,100 feet in 1.7 miles. Spring and summer bring tall grass and rattle snakes, but fall brings outrageous colors and herds of elk.
Ambassador: Rea Kolbl
Strava segment: Bear Peak via Bear Canyon
Where: Boulder, CO
Rea’s comment: This segment has a little bit of everything – wide, almost flat start, narrow gentle singletrack, some really steep portions, and the final push full of boulders and rocks where power hiking is always a faster choice compared to running. I also like it for its length – at just over 5 miles of climbing, it definitely gave me a leg burn way before the summit even came into view. It took me just over an hour and I had to work hard every single minute of it. Another thing that made this QOM special was also the timing – Bear Canyon was closed for most of that winter and they reopened it just for one day. I love that “more runnable” approach so I decided to seize the opportunity and got the segment without really going for it at the start (something I’ve been trying before then and was never successful).
Ambassador: John Kelly
Strava segment: Barkley Challenge Loop
Where: Frozen Head State Park
John’s comment: This is the Barkley Challenge Loop, an on-trail loop around the outer perimeter of Frozen Head designed to give anyone who wants it a tiny taste of Barkley terrain, without the entry process. This has obvious meaning for me with its connection to Barkley, but also as I view Frozen Head as my “home field” if such a thing were to exist in ultra running. This is the crown jewel of my project I did over the past year to capture all 70ish Strava KOMs in the park (I have since then lost a few… I have some work to do on my next trip home ????).
Ambassador: Taylor Nowlin
Strava segment: Snowbowl Base to Humphreys Peak
Where: Flagstaff, AZ
Taylor’s comment: If you’re visiting Flagstaff, why not summit the tallest peak in Arizona? I’ve ran this segment a bunch of times as a training run or as part of the larger peaks loop, but going for the QOM is still on my To-Do list! The route is a 7k continuous hill climb that averages a 14% grade, and the panoramic views from the top are totally worth the effort, and the descent is so much fun. It tends to be pretty busy, so if you want to move quickly go on a weekday or leave nice and early.