Steamboat Springs Betsy Kalmeyer is looking forward to doing things the "hard way" again this July.
Kalmeyer, 45, is training for her ninth "Hard Rock 100" foot race, an endurance test beyond the comprehension of most amateur athletes.
The race covers 100 miles along the spine of the San Juan Mountains. It demands that runners negotiate a 14,000foot mountain, Handie's Peak, while amassing a net elevation gain of 33,000 feet.
Kalmeyer was the first woman finisher in 2006, as she had been four times before, and placed third overall in competition with male athletes. Her winning time was 31 hours and 53 minutes.
"The step from a marathon to a 100-miler - you can't grasp it all - it's too much," she said. "I just focus on getting to the starting line. Then I think about making it to the first aid station, which is two to three hours and 10 miles away. You have to take it one thing at a time."
All of the training runs and all of the races serve as a means to enjoying the beauty of the mountains, she said.
Kalmeyer is an Air Force Reserve officer and a licensed physicians assistant. She works at Yampa Valley Medical Center in quality management.
When she doesn't have too many meetings to attend, Kalmeyer has the freedom to take a long lunch and squeeze in her daily workout.
In July 2006, Kalmeyer became the first woman to complete the Hard Rock eight times. Her goal is to complete her 10th event in the summer of 2008 and then move on.
"I don't know if my body is going to hold out much longer," she said. "I think that's enough focus on one race."
There will always be other races to run and other mountains to conquer.