The longest they've ever run
Wake up and do it again
The pain continues
Charles goes solo
Kyle is back in action
Mud is thick here
Only 44 miles ...
Trying to beat the storm
We got this. Maybe?
Almost there ... almost
After the adventure
At 5:30 a.m. on July 1, a few cars rolled up to Waterton Canyon in Littleton, and some sleepy athletes got out. Kyle King and Charles Remillard were used to early wake-up calls.
They both qualified for and ran in the 2020 Olympic marathon trials, but they were about to run the farthest in one day they had ever gone.
And the next day, and the next.
Every day until July 10.
“So, we’re about to run the Colorado Trail from Waterton Canyon to Durango, which is about 489 miles, trying to do it in 10 days,” Kyle said. “That’s the plan.”
Kyle, a U.S. Marine, was being transferred to a base in Virginia, and this adventure was his goodbye to Colorado.
Charles, a seventh-grade teacher, didn’t want to miss out on an adventure.
“That’d be way too much FOMO, [fear of missing out],” he said with a laugh.
The fear was certainly real, as the two attempted to run something most people hike in four to six weeks. From Denver to Durango, they would climb many mountains, pass through six national forests and climb nearly 90,000 feet.
The unsupported speed record for the Colorado Trail was set by Jeff Garmire in 2020. He completed the trail in 9 days, 8 hours and 18 minutes. Unsupported meant he carried his food and supplies with him.
Kyle and Charles would have support from Kyle’s brother, Tyler, and his best friend, Cody Barton.
“Lord knows these guys aren’t going to be able to cook at the end of the day, so we’ve got some instant mashed potatoes, some chicken in a can, and we’re gonna make miracles happen with a little bit of herbs and spices,” Cody said.
With about 2,000 calories and 80 ounces of water in their packs to start, Charles and Kyle were ready to begin.
Day 1: The longest they've ever run
“Bye Katie, see you in Durango!” Charles yelled as he passed our 9News camera at the beginning of the trail.
“I think she’s coming to the campsite tonight,” Kyle said.
“Yeah, but it sounds cooler if we say Durango,” Charles replied.
The first half of Day 1 was a breeze for the elite runners. They had only one minor issue when Kyle attempted to get water and he fell down the river.
Even at Mile 40, their spirits were high as they completed Segment 3.
But the two had to climb nearly 3,000 feet during Segment 4.
A thunderstorm rolled in after Kyle’s rest on the ground. While the two were worried about lightning, they came to life in the rain and hiked in the woods parallel to the trail to stay out of open areas.
At the end of Segment 4 in Colorado’s Lost Creek Wilderness, Tyler and Cody were busy setting up camp and preparing dinner. “Spaghetti con queso” was the specialty that night.
“I really underestimated how much it was going to hurt,” said Kyle at the camp site. “I knew we were going to be out there a long time. I knew it was going to be tough. But it was just straight physical discomfort probably after the first six hours.”
The two ran 57.3 miles on Day 1.
“It’s definitely type two fun,” Charles said. “Type two fun is not necessarily fun while you’re doing it, but it is after. Like it’s got really good memories.”
Day 2: Wake up and do it again
Charles and Kyle woke up to the smell of coffee permeating the wilderness area in Jefferson. After an egg sandwich made by Cody and Tyler, they were on their way.
Unfortunately, once Charles began running, he struggled to keep food down. He wrote in his trail journal, "I could feel acid crawling up my esophagus."
Nevertheless, they continued toward Breckenridge.
“This part of the trail was not nice!” Charles wrote.
Day 3: The pain continues
The entry in Charles’s journal says it all:
“Kyle was hurting bad,” he wrote. “I’m exhausted, good night!”
Day 4: Charles goes solo
On July 4, Kyle woke up with a potential fever.
“I was just like sweating uncontrollably, yeah, so it wasn’t safe for me to go out and run that,” he said.
Charles set out solo at Turquoise Lake, just outside of Leadville. And on Segment 11, Cody joined him for 28 miles.
Cody hadn't trained to do this, and he was hurting quite badly at the end of the day.
Day 5: Kyle is back in action
This was the longest day of running, with 58 miles and just under 12,000 feet of climbing. Kyle was ready to go after resting, but Charles’ quads began to ache.
Even with the pain, they remembered to take in the beauty of Colorado. Kyle said the highlight “was coming over the Monarch crest just after sundown to an incredible orange sky and mountain tops as far as the eye could see.”
Day 6: Mud is thick here
When Charles woke up at Marshall Pass Trailhead in Salida, he was ready. His legs had other ideas.
“Sometimes when you run 50 miles a day, five days in a row, your body doesn’t like it very much, so your quads just decide to stop working,” he said. “Which unfortunately is something that’s kind of important when you’re trying to run 50 miles a day.”
With locked-up quads a few miles into the first segment of the day, Charles had to take a break.
Kyle carried on, joined by his brother for the last 14 miles. And with just 4 miles left, his shoe disappeared.
Day 7: Only 44 miles ...
Our news crew caught up with the guys in Gunnison National Forest, somewhere in Saguache County, early on July 7.
Kyle and Charles had both missed a few segments, but they still had the goal of finishing on July 10, each just about 50 miles shy of all 485 miles.
“I’m not gonna lie. I cannot wait to be done,” said Kyle as he wrapped bandages around his blistered feet.
As he looked over the map, he groaned, realizing they were about to climb up to 13,000 feet twice.
“I will say I’m happy, um, this is gonna sound funny,” he said. “It’s only a 44 mile day.”
It wasn’t. They ended up running more than 50 miles. And a yurt that was promised at the end of the day hadn’t actually been built.
Their support crew hiked to the yurt that was not a yurt with all the gear. It was a hike far more difficult than they were made aware of. While hiking, they recorded an angry and explicit video that we cannot embed here.
At the end of the hike, they saw a bear. No one was harmed.
Day 8: Trying to beat the storm
With just two days left of the trip, Charles and Kyle cruised through the morning in the mountains outside of Lake City.
But those locked-up legs were lurking, and they came back in full force for Charles on the second section of the day. He had to stop running, but he kept moving forward.
That was when they saw the storms ahead.
“We were about 2,000 feet above tree line and heading straight towards a lightning storm,” Kyle said. “Charles couldn’t run, so we had to walk at it.”
The two made it off the mountain before the storm hit them, but Kyle said that was “one of the more stressful times on the trail.”
Day 9: We got this. Maybe?
At this point of the adventure, a 33-mile day was a treat.
Kyle said the day was “amazing,” but Charles had different words after he woke up with a swollen ankle.
“It took me awhile to try running, and it didn’t feel great, but the big boy ibuprofen helped,” he wrote in his trail journal.
They found “strange plants” with leaves that worked well for toilet paper.
At 5 p.m. they were already at the camp site, ready to rest and prepare for the last day on the trail.
Day 10: Almost there ... almost
The trail was kind to Kyle on the last day, but Charles felt it was against him. Kyle felt good running along, but Charles yelled at the sky asking, "Why?" Luckily, Kyle laughed so hard at his friend’s rants that it slowed him down.
At the end of the trail in Durango, the support crew waited for their runners with electrolytes and cold beers.
“Once they get into the parking lot here and they get their shoes off and kind of relax a minute, then we get to just enjoy the moment and talk about it for the rest of our lives,” Cody said.
With just five miles left, a rock in Charles’ path decided he needed one more challenge.
Although Charles doesn’t curse, his frustration was palpable. Even he knew after running so far for so long, a mere rock was not about to end this journey short.
With a quarter-mile left, the 9News crew met up with them on the trail to mic them up and hear the last moments of them on the trail.
“I hope I can make it without tripping,” said Charles as he and Kyle ran past the sign that marks the end of the Colorado Trail.
“Charles my man,” said Cody, pulling in Charles for an embrace. “Getting it done.”
“Yup, we got something done,” Charles said.
Epilogue: After the adventure
After chugging Pedialyte, they collapsed into camp chairs and were handed cold beers, which was the support crew’s final task.
“I am 100 percent happy that I did this,” Charles said. “My mom is absolutely terrified.”
The adventure was now a memory, and that type two fun became clear.
Charles and Kyle mostly finished the Colorado Trail in 10 days, but it was never about the bragging rights, just the stories they got to tell.
“Super fun memories,” said Kyle summing up the trip. “Not fun in the moment.”
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