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April 29, 2021 Update:
We are working closely with Gunnison County Health Officials to adapt the race to ensure the safety of our racers, volunteers and staff. Racers can expect slight modifications to the 2021 Growler, including:

different start location, from the Gunnison County Recycling Center off Gold Basin Road. No parking here, we ask that riders park in town and ride out. Riders will start in their respective waves and have a neutral pedal to the base area at Hartman Rocks, where the timing begins as you head up Kill Hill.

-wave starts to prohibit large gatherings of racers at any given time.
Saturday Classic: Group A (9:00am), Group B (9:20am), Group C (9:40am)
Sunday Big Bad: Group A (7:00am), Group B (7:30am)
Sunday Pup: Group A (8:00am), Group B (8:30am)

-aid stations and finish area: Riders can count on several aid stations stocked with Kate’s Real Food Bars, fruit, hydration mix, water and other goodies out on course, including the Skull Pass station that Classic and Big Bad 40 racers will pass through twice, as well as one located halfway through the Pup 20 race and 2/3 of the way through the Classic and Big Bad 40 races. Riders are asked to wear a mask when stopping at all aid stations and to properly dispose of any trash in the available trash cans. As riders finish the race at the Base Area, they will be asked to wear a mask as they exit the course through the finish area. Yes, this is a bit of drag. We’re racers, and we know how good it feels to cross the line and collapse in a heap with family and friends to watch riders roll through the finish. However, due to Covid, we will be keeping crowding to a minimum at the finish and asking all riders to grab a bit of fuel and move along. THANK YOU for understanding and helping us ensure the safety of all participating.

-no post-race party or awards ceremony downtown, again to prevent large-scale gatherings. Thanks to our sponsors, we have slick awards for those who podium. Check back here to learn where you can pick-up your award post-race. Location is TBD at this time. All awards MUST be picked up post-race.

We will continue to update racers as we progress towards a final plan for race weekend. Thank you for your support and we can’t wait to finally get racing underway!


Saturday – The Classic 32:

An epic single-lap race. *THE CLASSIC BEGINS WITH A MASS START AT 9AM* Field limit is 350 starters. Entry fee is $109 and includes a ton of singletrack, well-stocked aid stations and a post-race party in downtown Gunnison including a meal and beverages. Our most popular distance, the Classic usually sells out quickly. Don’t procrastinate on this one. But if you did and it’s full, take a look at Sunday’s race options.

Sunday – The Pup 20:

The Pup 20 features many of the trails on the Classic 32 mile course, but shortens the distance by cutting off the southern half of the Classic 32 mile course. Although shorter in distance, the Pup 20 is still a singletrack heavy course, with plenty of challenging trails to keep things exciting.

Sunday – The Big Bad 40:

The Big Bad 40 replaces our two-lap, 64 mile Full Growler with a slightly shorter course. The Big Bad 40 features the same Classic 32 mile course as Saturday’s race, but adds on the Aberdeen loop, an 8 mile singletrack loop that takes riders over South Beaver Creek and deeper into the Hartman Rocks backcountry. Though it may be shorter than the 64 miler, the Big Bad is remains one of the most challenging races on the planet for experienced, trail riding mountain bikers.

*BOTH EVENTS ON SUNDAY BEGIN TOGETHER WITH A MASS START AT 7AM* Combined total field limit for Sunday is 350 starters. Entry fee is $99 for the Pup 20 and $119 for the Big Bad 40 and include a ton of singletrack, well-stocked aid stations and a post-race party including a meal and beverages.


Packet Pickup: 3-9pm Friday and Saturday 5-9pm  at Western Colorado University in the Mountaineer Field House: 600 E. Ruby Ave, Gunnison, CO 81230.

DIRECTIONS: From Highway 50/Tomichi Ave., turn north onto Colorado St., go 4 blocks then turn east on Gothic Ave. Go around the roundabout and park, the Mountaineer Field House is the huge building to the northeast and enter through the southwest doors nearest the parking lot. Google 700 E. Gothic Ave or check out the link above.

THE GREAT GROWLER FOOD DRIVE! The Original Growler is a BYOB Race: Bring Your Own Bag. We try to eliminate waste and clutter by not providing you with any spiffy disposable or reusable bags that nobody needs. Please bring your own, preferably filled with non-perishable food items for the Original Growler Food Drive. Last year we killed it with this and our local food bank is forever grateful for your generosity.




The start is neutral behind law enforcement until you hit the dirt at Hartman Rocks. Neutral means you cannot pass the lead-out law enforcement vehicle. This law enforcement vehicle may drive slow or fast. HINT: the law enforcement vehicle usually goes pretty fast on Gold Basin road toward the dirt. The finish on the pavement is untimed but mandatory (see below for further details). Racing begins for real when you hit the dirt at the entrance to the Hartman Rocks base area. The course is about a 32-mile loop on your BLM public lands that brings riders back to the Hartman Rocks base area, where the timed finish/lap line is located.

The timed finish line is on the dirt at the Hartman Rocks base area. WE ARE NOT RACING BACK TO DOWNTOWN GUNNISON.

However, riding back to downtown Gunnison on the pavement is mandatory but untimed (continue reading for further details).

The timed portion of all races will be completed at the Hartman Rocks base area. However, by rule, you must pedal your bike back to downtown Gunnison and check in at the symbolic finish line there. This section is untimed so you can take your time, even stopping by your campsite or hotel room first to peel out of your lycra and shower. Do make it back downtown, however, and check in with race staff. Growler finishers will get a finishers award. You’ll also get your meal voucher for the Great Growler Food Court, and beverages at the High Alpine Brewing Company, all taking place where you started in downtown Gunnison.


The Classic 32, Pup 20 and Big Bad 40 start and finish in downtown Gunnison at IOOF Park (AKA, race HQ) on the NE corner of Main and Virginia. That makes for about 5 miles of dead flat pavement, 2.5 at the beginning and 2.5 at the end. The start on the pavement is neutral behind law enforcement and may be slow or fast. SEE ABOVE FOR A DESCRIPTION OF HOW THE GROWLER WILL FINISH.


Please, no parking on Main St. or in the first block on either side of Main St. These are two-hour parking spots and you will be ticketed and possibly towed. There’s plenty of street parking adjacent to the finish that’s just one block or more off of Main St. A great parking lot is two blocks west of the start across the street from the post office and there’s a ton of parking on the campus of Western Colorado University.

The well-marked course of around 32 miles contains loads of classic and challenging Gunnison singletrack – trails like Skull Pass, Rattlesnake, the Ridge, Joshos, 4-miles of new trail in the Graceland complex. You won’t be bored! The lap descends around 4,000 vertical feet. The Pup 20 uses the northern half of the 32 mile course while the Big Bad 40 adds on the 8 mile Aberdeen loop to the classic 32 mile course.  Please study the map for details.

PLEASE NOTE: Parts of the Original Growler course are closed until May 15th to protect the threatened Gunnison Sage-grouse. If you preride the course prior to May 15th, please honor and respect this seasonal closure for wildlife. Many thanks!

The Original Growler course contains difficult, technically demanding, and of course, potentially dangerous, singletrack trails, double-tracks and roads. Most road and trail hazards are not marked. Riders must possess the judgment and experience necessary to evaluate the roads and trails of the Original Growler and determine the safest manner in which to negotiate them.

BLM Public Lands
All roads and trails used in the Original Growler are also open to the public and participants don’t have special preference out on the trail. Participants need to be prepared to encounter, yield to and be courteous to humans on foot, on horseback, on mountain bikes (not racing), on motorcycles, on ATV’s, in full-size vehicles, hovercraft, etc. Cattle may also be encountered while racing in the Original Growler. This is standard policy for events taking place on BLM public lands.

The Original Growler course is an isolated, backcountry route that includes numerous sections located in steep and rugged terrain where participants may be hours from medical attention and/or evacuation in the event of a serious mishap. Western Colorado University Mountain Rescue Team provides emergency services for the Original Growler. The long-distance nature of the Growler races emphasizes the importance of adequate preparation, physical fitness and sound decision-making on the part of each participant.


  • WOMEN CLASSIC – Middle School, High School Freshmen/Sophomore; High School Junior/Senior; Collegiate; 19-29; 30-39; 40-49; 50+; Open Singlespeed; Pro
  • MEN CLASSIC – Middle School, High School Freshmen/Sophomore; High School Junior/Senior; Collegiate; 19-29; 30-39; 40-49; 50-59; 60+; Open Singlespeed; Clydesdale (over 200 lbs.); Pro


  • WOMEN PUP – Middle School, High School Freshmen/Sophomore; High School Junior/Senior, Adult (18+)
  • MEN PUP – Middle School, High School Freshmen/Sophomore; High School Junior/Senior, Adult (18+)


  • WOMEN BIG BAD – Collegiate; 18-29; 30-39; 40-49; 50+; Open Singlespeed; Pro
  • MEN BIG BAD – Collegiate; 18-29; 30-39; 40-49; 50-59; 60+; Open Singlespeed; Clydesdale (over 200 lbs.); Pro

Gunnison Trails holds some starting positions for sponsors, partners and race organization discretion.

The Original Growler is for experienced mountain bikers only and takes place in rugged, isolated backcountry terrain. While your safety is our highest priority and we have a robust EMS plan and experienced and trained personnel, responding to and evacuating an injured rider could be time consuming and difficult. Riders must possess the skills and judgment necessary to assess difficult and challenging trails and roads and negotiate them in a safe manner. NO BEGINNERS, PLEASE! For comparison, the general character and difficulty of the trails and roads in the Original Growler is similar to those of the BLM Mack Ridge Trail System near Fruita, CO: Mary’s Loop, Lion’s Loop, Horsethief Loop, Steve’s Loop, etc. The trails have also been described as Buffalo Creek on steroids.

Each day of Original Growler racing is capped at 350 riders. We could easily start 500 or more but there’s a ton of singletrack out there, much of it either fast or technical. Too many riders on course at once is not conducive to quality racing and riding. Even so, the Growler will bottleneck early in the race. Please be patient, respectful and smart if you find yourself at a standstill. Riding off of the trail to pass is NOT cool. Also, if a gap opens in front of you and you look back and notice that you are the engine of a long train of riders, please step off of your bike, move over and let these faster riders by. The same goes later in the race if you are being lapped or if another rider comes up on you on singletrack. Please yield the trail. This helps keep our precious singletrack trails singletrack! Thanks!

Both days of racing will start in downtown Gunnison by shotgun blasts. As per tradition, we will be flip-flopping the direction of travel on the course each year. Every trail is a completely different experience when ridden the other way!


While the winning time will be around 3 hours, we have a handful of riders out there for over 6 hours. Average times are 4-5 hours.Even though it’s called a race, this is an exceptional course to just ride for fun and challenge. We do have cutoff times (our volunteers do not bring sleeping bags!), but they are not overly tough to beat.

The PUP 20

While this race is new for 2021, we anticipate the average times to be between 3 – 5 hours.

The BIG BAD 40

Also new for 2021, we anticipate the average times to be between 5-6 hours. Some riders may be on course for closer to 8 hours, and we will have cutoffs times in place to prevent riders remaining on course after dark. However, these cutoff times are not overly tough to beat.



You will most likely get wet. The Original Growler is an all weather race. It poured rain before and during the race in 2009; in 2014, it rained most of the night prior to the Full Growler and in 2015 the story was the same for the Half. The first part of the course, especially the roads, on those days certainly had their moments. However, all thing considered, Hartman Rocks rides pretty well when it’s wet. Most of the soils are non-clay, decomposed granite. The race organization and/or the BLM may cancel the race do to weather but this hasn’t happened yet! All riders need to be dressed appropriately and be prepared to ride in the conditions on race day. In the event of a weather cancellation, essentially an act of god, Gunnison Trails reserves the right to make any decision possible.


Lightning is wholly unpredictable and very common in Colorado. Each of you make your own decisions about how best to stay safe in the event of a sudden electrical storm. If lightning starts striking nearby, do whatever you need to do to stay safe. These storms usually pass quickly.

Many trails in the Growler course are on hilltops or on large flat planes. Please be aware of the weather around you and where you are heading and make good decisions.

Canceling the race when riders are spread all over the course is not practical, not to mention impossible to communicate. We reserve the right to suspend or alter final results if thunderstorms materially alter rider’s ability to continue on without seeking cover. But, all parts of the race will stay intact and resume operations once each storm cell has passed. Ride aware at all times, especially after storms, as volunteers sometimes bail from their positions.

Follow all rules of the road and be safe and prudent if you approach an intersection, blind spot or other potentially dangerous situation while riding and that is un-marshaled.

Since these storms usually come and go, the course, finish line, aid stations, etc., will stay in place and active, except when they are under siege from an active electrical storm cell.

Be safe, make good decisions. Don’t let you competitiveness overrule your safety. After all this is the Growler, not the tour de France.


There will be well-stocked aid-stations generally at :

  • miles 15 and 17 (Skull Pass)
  • 30 (Hartman Rocks base area)

We will have hydration drink mix and Honey Stinger product available, as well as water and other food, too. Depending on location ice cold coke, and pickles or pickle juice will be available. As in years past, bacon and who knows what else, might be offered. No filled bottles will be handed up so you’ll need to fill your bottles and bladders or make other arrangements.

Two additional intermediate locations on the course will have hydration drink mix and water, just enough to keep you going.

Crewing is discouraged on the race course. There is already a ton of action going on out there and the few cars and less traffic, the better.

There will be basic technical support at the Hartman Rocks base area and basic support at Skull Pass. This will include lube, a few tubes and tires, some tools and floor pump. There most likely will not be a full-service bike shop on course. The base area will have more resources. Please arrive with your bike 100% dialed and then ride it so that it lasts, e.g. don’t shift like a bison!

Big Bad riders only will be able to leave a small cooler or duffel bag at a designated spot near the starting line in downtown Gunnison. We will transport your bag to the lap line (Hartman Rocks base area.) These can be filled with whatever you think you might want to have at the half-way point of the race: food, drink, clothing, tubes, tools, etc.) Once you have gone through it and are back on course, we’ll transport it back to town for you.

Important: Full-Growler riders: the lap line at the Hartman Rocks base area is always a confusing place. Check it out beforehand if possible. As you finish your first lap, be as aware as you can and pay attention to signage and/or course marshals trying to direct you to: the drop-bag location; the crew-feeding area; the neutral aid-station; or through the timing line to head out for your second lap


  • Cutoff #1: If you have not arrived at the Skull Pass aid station by noon (5mph average or less), you will be asked to begin expediting your ride by not dropping into Skull Pass, and/or cutting off other sections of the course. This will mean a DNF (did not finish) in the results.
  • Cutoff #2: If you do not reach the start of Josie’s Trail Checkpoint 8 by 1pm, you will be asked to expedite your ride by taking roads directly back to the Hartman Rocks Base Area. This will mean a DNF (did not finish) in the results.
  • Cutoff #3: If you do not reach the end of Graceland Trail Checkpoint 12 by 2pm, you will be asked to expedite your ride by taking roads directly back to the Hartman Rocks Base Area. This will mean a DNF (did not finish) in the results.


  • Cutoff #1: NOON is the strictly enforced cutoff time to head out on the second lap for Full Growler riders.
  • Cutoff #2 (lap 2): If you do not reach the start of Josie’s Trail by 3pm, you will be asked to expedite your ride by taking roads directly back to the Hartman Rocks Base Area. This will mean a DNF (did not finish) in the results.


  • Cutoff #1: If you do not reach the start of Josie’s Trail by 3pm, you will be asked to expedite your ride by taking roads directly back to the Hartman Rocks Base Area. This will mean a DNF (did not finish) in the results.


Once you’re done and back in downtown at the starting line, you’ll be smack-dab in the middle of the Growler after party. We have food and beverages (please drink responsibly) for you and eventually, we’ll do awards. We suggest that you put your bike away securely (you might want to bring a lock for peace of mind or get it back to where you are staying or on or in your car), clean up as you like and kick back and enjoy the post-race glow and feeling of abused legs.

  • THE CLASSIC party on Saturday begins around 1pm with Awards around 3pm.
  • THE PUP AND BIG BAD party on Sunday begins around 1pm with Awards around 3pm.

Refunds and Transfers:

The Original Growler’s only reason for existence – along with offering you an epic challenge and an amazing experience – is to raise money for Gunnison area trails, trail advocacy and other local non-profits.

Refund Policy:

Full refunds are available until March 31, 2021 at midnight. Refunds will only be granted if we receive an email at info@gunnisontrails.org prior to this date and time. In this email you can also request a partial refund, contributing an amount of your choice to the Gunnison Trails cause. Thanks in advance for that!

From April 1, 2021 to May 21, 2021 at midnight, a full refund, less a $25 contribution to Gunnison Trails, is available. Again, you must email us at info@gunnisontrails.org within this time period and you can also contribute more than $25 if you choose, just let us know in your email.

Apologies, but there will be no refunds after May 21, 2021. However, check out our transfer policy below as we will allow transfers until May 21, 2021.


Transfers will be allowed until May 21, 2020 at midnight. We have set up our registration platform at bikereg.com to allow users to transfer entries to others and to edit their registration. This will allow you to log on and transfer your entry to someone you have lined up, change categories, team name, rider’s name and contact details, etc.

We need volunteers and would love your help. If you are interested in volunteering, please fill out the form here and we will be in contact with race day details.

Read the Weekend Info