Photo: Tim Olson Retreats

I’ve been trying to ignore the buzz about ultra running training camps for a long time now. Frankly, I’d love to go to one but finances, baby-rearing, and an inability to sneak away for 3-7 days have been the limiting factors. But when I think about it, they combine my favorite two things: running and travel. Two birds. One stone.

So a running camp sounds amazing, right? You leave your everyday life for a running retreat with like-minded people in an exotic locale. You run a lot, learn a lot, see a lot, and meet a lot of really interesting people I’m sure.

I finally decided to do some research when Jeff Browning revealed that he and Karl Meltzer were putting on a camp near Durango, Colorado. Five days of fun in the San Juans with nothing to do but run and chill and learn. And seriously, how sexy is this camp video trailer:

Okay, so there’s Durango with Jeff & Karl in August, what else is there? This question prompted me to whittle the calendar of camps down to the ones I found most intriguing.


22nd – 25th: The Eleven Salomon Running Experience hosted by Stevie Kremer, Adam Chase, and Mike Ambrose in Crested Butte, CO. It seems like a great fit for runners of all abilities. You will be pampered at a lodge and guided through some amazing trail systems in the area. Their website says:

“Eleven Experience and Salomon are partnering again to offer both seasoned and aspiring trail runners an exclusive opportunity to run with world-class athletes and coaches in a world-class destination. Hosted at our flagship property, Scarp Ridge Lodge in Crested Butte, this three-day running, wellness and training camp promises the rare opportunity to receive personalized coaching from some of the world’s best trail and ultrarunners.”

I don’t know much about Adam and Mike but from all the podcasts and interviews I’ve heard from Stevie, she seems like a rad person and I’m sure this camp would be a blast.


2nd – 8th: Come on, it’s freaking Rob Krar. What more do you want? The Rob Krar Ultra Camp gives you the opportunity to chillax in Sedona and explore the Grand Canyon region.

“The 2017 Rob Krar Ultra Camp Experience offers the opportunity to meet one of the world’s premier ultra runners in his hometown of Flagstaff, Arizona. In a small group that allows for generous individual attention, you’ll get to run alongside of and learn from Rob in some of his favorite—and most beautiful—places to train. The goal of the camp is to provide an inspirational, educational, and once-in-a-lifetime running experience unlike anything available in our sport.”

Special note: Two meals are at the Krar residence. In my opinion, that’s pretty cool he even opens his home to the group.


7th – 13th: Run Wild Retreats – Iceland: The Land of Fire and Ice. Sorry guys, this one is only for the ladies. But if I was a chick and a wealthy one at that, I’d book this in a heartbeat. CEO Elinor Fish had this to say:

“Part running vacation, part wellness retreat, we’ll explore Southern Iceland and the Highlands in a way that leaves you plenty of time to tune in to what drives you in running and in life. Indulge in a week of things that are sure to feed your soul: travel, adventure, fun, education and great food.”

Short clip from last year’s Iceland retreat:

Apparently this retreat may be full but there are still waitlist spots available!

10th – 13th & 17th – 20th: Tim Olson’s Adventure Mindful Retreats require at the very least an openness to mindfulness, meditation, and the art of being present. Here’s a nice summary:

“Run Mindful Retreats will not focus on how to run or topics like running form, performance nutrition, racing, increasing speed; those talks will happen organically but the emphasis will be on running/hiking in the present moment and bringing that serenity from the trails to everyday life.”

If you want to go deeper and experience a retreat that focuses more on holistic health of body and mind, maybe this is for you.

14th – 18th: Jeff Browning and Karl Meltzer (mentioned above) are teaming up with the Colorado Running Ranch to offer up four days of adventure in the San Juans. This is definitely the camp that I’d go to. I’m probably a little biased because Jeff is a fellow Bendite, but this camp makes me feel like I might actually come away a better runner. Here’s their pitch:

Screenshot from the trailer

“Spend five breathtaking days hanging out and getting trail running instruction from veteran ultrarunner and endurance coach, Jeff ‘Bronco Billy’ Browning. Bronco will share his personal experience making the shift to OFM (Optimized Fat Metabolism), the benefits and emerging science of fat adaptation, as well as its application to endurance training and lifestyle strategies. Plus, you’ll learn about altitude training, uphill and downhill trail running technique, good running form, race day gear and nutrition planning, functional strength and stretching routines for busy schedules, mental approaches to ultra marathons and more…”

Who knows, if things fall into place, maybe I’ll see you all there!


4th – 9th & 18th – 23rd: Ricky Gates and Jenn Shelton head up these two adventures called Hut Run Hut. If I’m being honest, this doesn’t look like my cup of tea, but maybe that’s just my married dad side coming out. You won’t be pampered at some lodge or resort but I’m sure you won’t even care.

“Hut Run Hut is a six-day, one-hundred-mile, Aspen-to-Vail mountain running adventure with a priority of fun over fast. Running ten to twenty-five miles (15-40kilometers) per day along the iconic and breath-taking Continental Divide, participants will traverse a portion of the Rockies while resting at the secluded 10th Mountain Division Huts along the way.”

Ricky does go out of his way on the website to say that you won’t be out there with just him or Shelton; there will also be experienced mountain guides. But Ricky will be there and pouring Sombra Mezcal I’m sure.

20th – 24th: Max King Trail Running Camp offers up something unique: you not only run your ass off but you learn about forest stewardship, map reading, and navigational skills. You also get your hands dirty with some good old fashioned trail maintenance! So you’ll work hard during the day, but at least you’ll be staying at Suttle Lake, which is an incredible venue. I would know because that’s where I spent my wedding night! But that’s a whole different story.

Here’s what Max has to say:

“The camp is to help foster a level of comfort and independence while running trails in remote areas through education in map reading and navigation and to provide a level of understanding about forest issues and trail maintenance through hands on work. Our over-arching goal is to create capable trail runners and stewards with a lifelong love of nature.”

Sign up for this one if you want fall colors in Oregon!