In March 2016, Under Armour brought 35 runners to a remote Colorado mining town for a life-changing running experience amid some of the country’s most intense outdoor conditions. UA Run Camp is much more than a gruelling test of physical performance, though. It challenges the mind, forges powerful human connection, and expands the realm of what you think is possible.
Here are three things you need to know about this unique and empowering experience.
You don’t make it here by accident
UA Run Camp comprises a special breed of athlete. It’s not the freak of nature athlete with unattainable physical gifts. These athletes separate themselves in a different way. They reach this level of elite performance by being tireless, fearless, and always willing to challenge themselves. They also demonstrate unparalleled commitment in every moment.
While on paper it’s described as the ultimate running experience, UA Run Camp presents challenges that are often more than just physical. It also demands that the athletes push themselves mentally and emotionally. For the athletes who attend, a greater meaning exists beyond setting a new mile time or outperforming the rest of the group. It’s a cathartic and meditative act.
More than athletes, UA Run Camp participants are fighters. Many of their stories include overcoming health or emotional challenges, or other difficulties. They are people who don’t listen to that little voice of doubt that prevents so many people from attaining their goals. The members of UA Run Camp didn’t get there by taking the easy route. They showed up to challenge themselves day in and day out.
It’s the ultimate outdoor playground
Aside from the uniqueness of the athletes, UA Run Camp generates excitement through the remarkable exploration of landscape it offers. On day one, just hours after landing from their respective cities, the runners went straight into a challenging trail run at 10,000 feet elevation. They didn’t yet know each other, nor did they know the course ahead of them, and yet they immediately began working together.
Workouts also included a strength and stair climb circuit on the steps of Red Rocks Amphitheatre and hikes through several feet of slush and sleet. While the landscape quickly humbles you, it will also reward you with breathtaking moments of natural beauty. Athletes described the rosy glow of daylight spilling over a mountaintop during a morning run as being worth every minute of the punishing trek it took to get there.
Every drill, run and other exercise is a difficult yet brutally beautiful experience. Each day is a reminder of the opportunity that exists outside for any type of athlete. No matter who you are or what level of intensity you exercise at, you always have access to the training elements that exist out in the world. A fancy indoor gym or the assistance of fitness machines is not a prerequisite for reaching your fitness goals. UA Run Camp is an amplified illustration of the type of workout you’ll find just by stepping outdoors.
The worst conditions bring out the best in you
A week will change you. You’ll form strong, impactful bonds with the other participants, and you’ll grow to know yourself better than ever before. The transformation that takes place over a week will encourage you to continue to tap into areas of your mental and physical potential that you didn’t know existed.
During an interview with UA Run Camp instructor Sandra Gallagher-Mohler, she spoke to the immediate obstacles runners faced upon arriving.
“When the athletes first reported, there was intimidation and so much unknown. The athletes struggled for air and were faced with humility, but as we progressed, they gained confidence and the team became cohesive and engaging,” said Mohler.
“That’s what happens at 10,000 feet. You quickly learn that you can’t do it alone, so not only do you learn how to seek the support of others, but also the importance of reaching out to help someone else.”
She witnessed team bonds that week that are more often seen in athletes who have known each other for years.
UA Run Camp presents a chance to prove yourself wrong and help others do the same. When you bear witness to the type of teamwork, grit and solidarity that push people beyond the limitations they’ve set for themselves, it’s an incredibly powerful source of motivation. It’s something that stays with you well after the last day.
Trying to compare this experience to something else is difficult because there isn’t really anything comparable. The exhausting physical, mental and emotional involvement packed into a week leaves the athletes in awe of their own capability. It’s a unified fight against nature and the limitations you believe you have. Being the best version of yourself means sometimes stepping into uncomfortable ground. That’s the mentality that you’ll find at the UA Run Camp – it allows the open-minded athlete to step out of his or her comfort zone and realize they are capable of more than they know. Round two will be no different.
Got what it takes? Elevation was just the beginning. Next up: the desert.
#EarnYourSpotCA to UA Run Camp: Post your toughest run on Instagram or Twitter. Long distance. Fast pace. High elevation. Share a photo that captures it all or your summary screen from MapMyRun/Endomondo.
Tag @UARunning and use the hashtags #EarnYourSpotCA and #UAContest.