FAQ’s

everything start to finish

Field limit is 350 starters per day. Entries include a ton of singletrack, well-stocked aid stations and a post-race party including a meal and beverages.

Saturday – The Classic 32:

An epic single-lap race. 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. Entry fee is $109 for the Classic.

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. Entry fee is $99 for the Pup.

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. Entry fee is $119 for the Big Bad 40.

Packet Pickup: 5-9pm Friday and Saturday 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.

Race plate placement:
Your race plate goes on the front of your bike. Do not bend/contort the plate or it will interfere with the timing chip/visibility and ultimately your race result. Please place the plate so that all numbers are visible.

Correct placement looks like this:

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. Year after year, our racers knock this support out of the park. Mark your calendar now, add a non-perishable item to your travel bag…our local food bank is forever grateful for your generosity.

Common Registration Questions:
Under 18: Children racing under the age of 18 must have a parent or guardian sign a waiver for them.
Age category placement: Racers are placed in their age category based on their age on the date of their race.
Registration check-in is at the WCU Field House. We do not bring race plates to the start of the race. Please plan accordingly.

SATURDAY’S CLASSIC 32 STARTS IN DOWNTOWN GUNNISON (IOOF Park) AT 9AM SHARP.

SUNDAY’S PUP 20 and BIG BAD 40 BOTH START TOGETHER FROM DOWNTOWN GUNNISON (IOOF Park) AT 8AM SHARP.

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. HINT: the law enforcement vehicle usually goes pretty fast on Gold Basin road toward the dirt. The race clock begins when the gun goes off at the start. So while you are behind a neutral lead vehicle, the clock is in fact ticking during this 4 mile ride out to Hartmans. Each course is a singletrack heavy loop, traversing the rugged, granite strewn landscape before riders return back to the Hartman Rocks base area where the finish line is located.

THE FINISH line is on the dirt at the Hartman Rocks base area. The timed portion of all races will be completed at the Hartman Rocks base area. WE ARE NOT RACING BACK TO DOWNTOWN GUNNISON. However, by rule, you must pedal your bike back to downtown Gunnison (4miles) 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.

IF YOU DNF IN ANY RACE, PLEASE ALERT A COURSE VOLUNTEER OR RACE ORGANIZATION MEMBER MAKING SURE THEY GET YOUR BIB NUMBER. THANKS!

Parking
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.

For 2025, the course direction is clockwise. The well marked Classic 32 course is roughly 32 miles and contains loads of classic and challenging Gunnison singletrack – trails like Josho’s, Outback, Skull Pass, the Ridge and Graceland, among many others. You won’t get 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 maps for details. Pup 20 and Big Bad 40 racers begin at the same time and share much of the same course. The courses split and merge in several locations. While the majority of the Pup 20 racers will have finished, the leaders in the Big Bad 40 group may encounter some Pup 20 racers near the end of the course. Please be respectful of other racers and pass with care.

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

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

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.

SATURDAY CLASSIC 32:

  • WOMEN CLASSIC – Middle School, High School Freshmen/Sophomore; High School Junior/Senior; Collegiate; 19-29; 30-39; 40-49; 50-59; 60+; Open Singlespeed; Pro/Open
  • 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/Open

SUNDAY PUP 20:

  • 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+)

SUNDAY BIG BAD 40:

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

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 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! In 2025, the course flows clockwise.

The CLASSIC 32

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

The average times are between 2.5-3.5 hours.

The BIG BAD 40

The average times are between 4-6 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.

GROWLER RESULTS PAGE

RAIN:

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 (knock on wood)! 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:

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 three aid stations out on course (one for the Pup riders). The Classic 32 and Big Bad 40 riders will go through the Skull Pass aid station twice. Each will be stocked with a variety of goodies, including Honey Stinger chews, waffles and hydration, bananas, pickles and water. No filled bottles will be handed up so you’ll need to fill your bottles and bladders or make other arrangements. Riders are asked to properly dispose of any trash in the available trash cans. Crewing is discouraged on the race course. There is already a ton of action going on out there and the fewer the cars and less traffic, the better. Aid stations and the distances they are located* along the courses are:

Classic 32
1. Buddy Bear – at mile 13.5
2. Skull Pass – at miles 18 and 19.5
3. Skyline – at mile 24.5

Pup 20
1. Buddy Bear – at mile 13.5

Big Bad 40
1. Buddy Bear – at mile 13.5
2. Skull Pass – at miles 18 and 28.5
3. Skyline – at mile 33.5

* These distances are from the base area of Hartman Rocks and do not include the four mile neutral ride from town.

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!

THE CLASSIC

  • 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.

THE BIG BAD 40:

  • Cutoff #1: If you have not arrived at the Skull Pass aid station by 11am (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.

THE PUP 20:

  •  There is no cutoff for Pup 20 racers.

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 for you (please drink responsibly) 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/in your car), clean up as you like and kick back and enjoy the post-race glow and the feeling of abused legs.

  • THE CLASSIC party on Saturday begins around 1pm with Awards around 2:30pm.
  • THE PUP AND BIG BAD party on Sunday begins around 1pm with Awards around 2:30pm.

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, 2025 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 – May 15, 2025 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 15, 2025. Unfortunately, we cannot move registrations to the following year. However, check out our transfer policy below as we will allow transfers until May 19, 2025.

Transfers:

Transfers will be allowed until May 19, 2025 at 5pm. 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.