In February I shared Small Change is heading to Colorado for the Silverton Double Dirty 30. Runners who take on this challenging race will be treated to 60 miles of beautiful terrain, golden foliage, and escalating mountain views. For many, the reward will come when they cross the finishline; but the miles they fought hard for will have lasting impact for someone they’ll probably never meet.
Megan Finnesy, the race director, has worked tirelessly to create something very special for both the runners and the community. Proceeds from Double Dirty 30 benefit Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwest Colorado (a portion will also benefit Search and Rescue). Her goal is to raise $75,000 for the organization through a combination of corporate sponsorship, fundraising efforts by runners, and a contribution from race proceeds (fundraising is not a requirement of entry, but rather a suggestion).
The motto of the race is “Go BIG or go home!” As you’ll read in Megan’s interview, her passion for running and giving back echoes this sentiment and then some.
Why did you make Big Brothers Big Sisters the race beneficiary?
Big Brothers Big Sisters’ mentoring programs fill an important gap in our communities by pairing kids in need with a positive and supportive role model. I experienced this firsthand when I was a Big Sister to an inspiring little girl. I saw her confidence, courage, and leadership skills skyrocket. The experience was mutually beneficial—I know my role had a positive impact on her as she did for me. I’m incredibly honored to partner with BBBS and hope to raise significant dollars for the SW Colorado chapter, as well as inspire the Double Dirty 30 runners to get involved with their own local chapter.
What’s your fundraising goal?
The goal is to raise $75,000 through a combination corporate sponsorship, fundraising efforts by the runners, and a contribution from race proceeds. If each runner raised just $300 we’d meet our goal—and that’s on top of any sponsorship contributions from the business community. I created a sample letter runners can use as part of their fundraising efforts.
I love the idea of combining endurance sports with giving back to our race communities. Since getting into race directing nearly 10 years ago, my strategy has always been to partner with organizations committed to making the race successful—the more successful the race, the more money is raised for the beneficiary. Double Dirty 30 is my first race where runners are encouraged to raise funds for the beneficiary (since its inception, my other race, Golden Gate Dirty 30, has donated more than $31,000 to its beneficiaries).
The ultrarunning community is an incredible resource and can have a huge impact when efforts are combined. I’m excited to see what Double Dirty 30 can create in the years to come.
Besides the beneficiary component, what makes Double Dirty 30 special?
The Silverton Double Dirty 30 has been three arduous years in the making! I’ve gone through monumental measures to get the necessary permits to make it happen (I applied and was denied three times). To finalize the permits on my fourth attempt, I had to get trained as a “trail boss,” adopt a segment of the trail course, and conducted two trail maintenance days with volunteers. All the hard work paid off, as my dream of the Double Dirty 30 is now a reality. They say ultrarunning is an endurance sport—I’d add to that and say race directing is an endurance event as well.
The result of my dream is a beautiful 85% single-track trail and single loop course on some of the most pristine trails in Colorado—23 miles of the course travels on the famous Colorado Trail. From the depths of the Animas River Valley to the majestic mountain passes above tree line, Double Dirty 30 will take runners through golden aspen groves, crystal clear streams, picturesque waterfalls, peaceful forests, all while circumnavigating 13,000 feet Engineer Mountain.
Any training suggestions for the runners?
Train at high elevation, if possible and run mountain trails and back-to-back long days. Training on tired legs will prepare for the big climbs late in the race.
How did you get into race directing?
It was a bit of an accident. I wanted to be an events coordinator, but couldn’t find the right job due to lack of experience. I ran a few trail races and was disappointed the course was on dirt road with cars whizzing by, stirring up dust. I longed for feeling of being lost in the woods, on a path winding through trees and streams. I used to hike and run the trails in Golden Gate Canyon State Park and thought to myself, “this would be a great place for a race,” so I called the park and asked what it would take to put on a race there. The rest is history as the Golden Gate Dirty 30 is celebrating its 8th year. It’s been an incredible journey.
What was your first ultra?
I ran the TransRockies in 2008, a six-day stage race from Buena Vista to Beaver Creek, Colorado. The longest day was 24 miles. It was an exciting experience with lots of elite runners, and where I met ultrarunners Anita Ortiz, Katie Matzia, Adam Chase. The wheels started turning. In October 2008, I did Goblin Valley 50K in Utah, a flat, out and back on dirt roads. Then in 2009, I got the opportunity to pace a friend 47 miles at Hardrock 100 and two months later, I crossed the finishline at Bear 100. I guess you could say I got hooked.
Anything else you’d like to share?
Double Dirty 30 is placed perfectly on the calendar at the peak of Colorado’s fall blaze—runners will be treated to golden Aspen canopies and blue skies. While a new race, the Double Dirty 30 has been three years in the making—that’s three years of carefully planning and developing the necessary relationships to make race day go off smoothly. Eight years directing Golden Gate Dirty 30 has given me the experience and knowledge to put on a very well organized event, and I can’t wait until race day.