Five great ways to play at the 2018 GoPro Mountain Games
Photo: Zach Mahone

Five great ways to play at the 2018 GoPro Mountain Games

By Shauna Farnell

True that some of the world’s fittest, most chiseled athletes flock to Vail every summer to compete in the GoPro Mountain Games. What many people don’t realize is that the Mountain Games are built for outdoor enthusiasts of every variety and every level. Whether you’re a music or dog lover, a health-minded foodie, a casual yogi, an occasional runner or an avid people watcher, you’ll find your niche in Vail from June 7-10, 2018.

Here are the five easiest ways to partake:

1. Be a spectator.

The eye candy is off the chain. You’ll see kayakers doing back flips, modern acrobats balancing on one hand on a line high above the creek, cyclists and trail runners charging up Vail Mountain and dogs leaping farther than you thought gravity would ever allow. Let’s not forget three nights of live music starring Chris Robinson Brotherhood, St. Paul & The Broken Bones, Playing for Change Band, Bonfire Dub and The Wood Brothers. It’s all free. You can even try out your own slackline skills on the low risk line (a foot off of the ground) as competitors wow the crowd with their high flying butt flips next door. Also, this is your chance to sample state-of-the-art gear and bag a ton of swag –  granola and energy chews, bandanas, key chains, organic pet treats … It’s like Christmas. Plus, there is every type of interesting person to take in. It’s a festival of beautiful people (and dogs) not trying to be beautiful. The best kind of people.

2. Indulge in the Whole30 Dinner

It must be noted that many of us love eating at least as much (if not more) than we love outdoor recreation. You may have heard of the Whole30, an innovative food program designed by sports nutritionist Melissa Hartwig, whose Whole30 cookbooks and guides have become New York Times best sellers. On June 7 Larkspur Restaurant will host a one-of-a-kind, intimate feast with Hartwig. Chef Thomas Salamunovich will create a family-style, four-course, Whole30-inspired dinner for guests who also have the rare opportunity to chat with the nutritionist on her life-changing approach to dining. Tickets are $150.

3. Yoga

You don’t have to be a human pretzel-caliber yogi to partake in this open and exhilarating carnival of namaste. It’s a four-day field day for yoga practitioners of every level, including free teen and kid yoga, nationally renowned instructor Yvonne Schwartz leading sweat-heavy Buti as well as Beats yoga with Jillian Keaveny to the soundtrack of live DJ Kirby K, and flow with Integrated Vinyasa creator Gina Caputo, to name just a few. The running theme is feel-good vibes in Zen-like doses as Vail’s Ford Park transforms into a rainbow display of yoga mats. Boundlessly align all of your chakras with the all-access pass for  $120 (increases to $130 on June 6).

4. Sign up for the Aprés 5K

With all this fitness around you, it would be criminal to not sign up for some kind of competition, right? If you’re not prepared to test your SUP skills in the charging rapids of Gore Creek, scale the wall used by World Cup climbers or hammer on your bike for several hours, the Aprés 5K run is one of the most accessible options. Granted, it ain’t no walk in the park. You start and finish at 8,200 feet (that’s the low point) and wind your way up and down the lower part of Vail Mountain on dirt service roads and singletrack. Still, the scenery is stunning and energy supportive … the overall vibe decidedly relaxed. The race does go down at après time, after all (5:30 p.m. June 8), meaning you can celebrate and negate the calories burned with a libation or two afterward.

5. Do the Rocky Dog Trail Run

If you have a four-legged friend in tow and are feeling antsy merely watching the action unfold, the Rocky Dog Trail Run is absolutely the most accessible participation option. You probably haven’t spent years training Fido to fly 30 feet into water after a fetch toy like some of the furry heroes you see here, but he/she certainly likes to jog or walk on trails. Although the frontrunners use all six legs to throw down a breakneck pace on this 5-kilometer dirt course (the same used for the Aprés 5K), plenty of participants walk the whole scenic route on Vail Mountain. It’s a great way to make new friends, both human and canine, and notch some first-hand adventure stories. The Rocky Dog Trail Run/Walk goes down at 5:30 p.m. on June 7.

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