Black Canyon Race Series – by Jan Peart

Many of our members, including our new club officers, do not know the history of our Black Canyon Race Series.  I thought it might be important to provide some background and provide an update on the status of the Series.

In winter 2009-2010, Melanie Hall with the Montrose Community Foundation contacted SJMR member Scott Shine about putting on a race to benefit their non-profit.  Scott was the perfect person to contact!  He had been our 2009 Black Canyon race director, worked at the city, and was instrumental in getting the city to help promote our long-running BCA.   Since I was SJMR president and Scott’s co-race director, Scott enlisted me to help with ideas. 

After numerous meetings and brainstorming sessions with Melanie Hall and other SJMR members, Melanie suggested a race series: three or four events which would then be presented to local businesses to support.  Putting on multiple events instead of one BIG race would allow us to promote throughout the year those businesses that funded and provided support for the series.  And so with encouragement from the City, we focused on our area’s biggest draw, the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.  The concept of a Black Canyon Race Series was born!

Next came the unenviable task of permitting two additional events that would bookend our well-known Black Canyon Ascent which was already in its 35th year.  The Winter Rim Romp was no problem.  The Park was excited to see us advertise an event which would increase visitors to the Black Canyon during the winter.  However, after months of discussions and negotiations, permission to put on a half marathon along the South Rim during late October stalled.  Finally the Chief Ranger and Regional Superintendent suggested the North Rim for the race.  Subsequently, the North Rim 20K and 8K was developed and our Black Canyon Race Series was established in January 2011.

And the fundraising?  From the beginning the City of Montrose supported the SJMRs with financial and in-kind support.  In addition, DMEA, Gordon Composites, Alpine Bank, Western Slope Orthopaedics , and Montrose Bank jumped onboard.  Today, Alpine Bank is our major contributor and Montrose Office of Business and Tourism continues to provide support by donating funds directly to SJMR through their Special Events grant program.

As for the Series’ future?  Many of you know that we did not put on the North Rim event in 2017 and with only two races in the Series, I was not comfortable soliciting funding from area businesses.  I would love to resurrect the North Rim event or renegotiate with the Park Service about a South Rim event (the original Park staff who were so against an event on the South Rim are no longer there).  I truly believe a half marathon closer to Montrose would be more popular and would be much easier logistically to put on compared to the North Rim.  But I need help and, quite frankly, after 15 years of co-race directing or race-directing I am ready to pass on the responsibility of the BCRS to others.  But let’s talk, brainstorm, and see what we can do!  You can contact me at

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