ANNIE HUGHES (23 years old) WINNER ULTRA TRAIL COLORADO. Overall winner at Collegiate Peaks 50 Mile race. Our FEMALE MOUNTAIN RUNNERS section celebrates today the arrival of a great talent. Annie won Collegiate Peaks 50 Miles, with a 23min lead.

With this victory, the women’s overall wins in ultra trail races arrives to 20 as we have shown you in some articles here. Annie is just 23 years old. She run her first ultra in February 2019. Originally from Wisconsin, she moved years ago to Leadville, Colorado, to pursue the dream of long mountain running. Her first overall victory shows just a little part of the potential she has.

Photo: Annie Hughes



At 23, Annie still has many still fresh memories of her childhood in Wisconsin. For example, she still remembers when her father encouraged her to run cross-country. She was also fascinated when he explained that long-distance mountain races were of a thousand different types: there were 5 km races, called cross-country.

There were mountain marathons, too. And beyond, a new world called Ultra Trail was there, were crazy people were able to run up to 100 miles in a row and beyond… She must have paid attention to something, because later, while studying even in high school, she went to work in an athletics store. At that time a new brand arrived, from France, to the store. It was called Hoka One One and they were very rare shoes: very big but not heavy at all.

Annie was fascinated to learn that the Hoka were originally designed by their founder, Nico Mermoud, to run a 100-mile races through the Alps.

In the end, she had the opportunity to visit the great mountains for the first time after her first high school year: her family visited the Colorado Rockies. And in between all the great peaks of the state, she chose to pass through Leadville and crown from there the second highest peak of the Rockies, the 14,360-foot La Plata Peak.

Her parents were already considering moving to Colorado by the time they retire. But as soon as she came back, Annie insisted that they do it before high school ended because she wanted to live in the mountains. In those mountains. The most surprising thing about her is perhaps, that long before she moved to Colorado she had already decided that when she was older she wanted to be an ultra runner.

In fact, as a child growing up in Wisconsin, Annie was already a good cross-country and track runner. But from a very young girl she stood out for a special passion to run a lot. Suffice it to say that in third grade education, she went for a 20km run of her own free will. In high school, Annie’s family moved from Wisconsin to Buena Vista, CO. In her senior year, she took classes at Colorado Mountain College through the simultaneous enrollment program and was familiar with Leadville.


The family opted to settle in Buena Vista, Colorado, four years ago, It is a town that I have been able to visit several times. This is a lovely bohemian corner. Lots of rafting, lots of mountain biking and lots of bohemian artists. Not as rich and famous as Aspen, but with more money, work and opportunities than in other neighboring places, like Leadville. Annie remained mainly focused on the track and cross country during her senior year of high school.

She went to college there and continued to run cross for her first three semesters while competing now representing Adams State College in Alamosa. But the thing was hopeless anymore: once she started running up the mountain, she soon realized that she didn’t want to live in Alamosa.

Annie wanted to live in the mountains, somewhere where she could train having mountain trails right at her back door. And of course, the nearby Leadville with its 3,094m altitude turns out to be the highest village in the United States. Surrounded by the mythical Nolan’s Fourteen line, no less than fourteen peaks with more than 4,200m altitude surround the ancient Oro City. Annie soon moved in there.

After two years of short-range fast racing, young Hughes longed for a long-distance challenge. Finally, at the age of 21 in 2019 Annie left the cross-country team and enrolled in the Moab Red Hot 55k. She was going to make her debut on her first ultra trail. The rest, it’s history…

Photo: Annie Hughes


From Leadville, actually, it seemed like the most normal thing in the world. Talks with friends who put 20-50k training one day yes, another too. See all those runners from all over the world, dreaming of the hundred miles…. Being only 21 years old, being a good tanned runner already in the cross for years, nothing easier than meeting with some friends and jumping for a long run up the mountain.

February 2019: The time has come: first ultra bib number in the Moab Red Hot 55K. Her first ultra was a challenge, so much to learn….but also, seeing herself there unspeaking in the top5 on her debut, was an inspiration. After her ultra-baptism in Utah, Annie could not help it and went for one of the famous 100 miles ultras in the USA: the Leadville 100. In her first year as an ultrarunner, Annie bet heavily on finding her space there. Just five months after her debut, she signed up and raced the Silver Rush 50Mi, the 100-mile “filial” race. In between, she still gave her time to run a second, to gain experience. It was a small race, yes, but Annie not only won the female, but got into the overall top6.

In July she launched her third ultra, a key step: Silver Rush 50 MIles. The goal was no longer anything less than to qualify for the Leadville 100 Run 2020. Done! Achieved women’s bronze… and with it, bib for the mythical hundred miles of August. Unfortunately, like almost every event that year, the race was cancelled. Of course she was disappointed, but Annie didn’t let that stop her from running after her dream.

Leadville Fourteeners. Photo: Mayayo.


In 2020 she boarded the 160-mile Collegiate Loop, a massive circuit with D+11,100m Another of those great rocky logical mountain crossings, linking several of the large four thousand between Leadville and Buena Vista., in central Colorado.

Running so long was for her a completely uncharted territory. Would I be able to? It wasn’t easy, it wasn’t… After a difficult first 24 hours, she recovered with the help of friends and family, to come up in the second half- And in what way: In the end it downsteened the women’s fast track mark (FKT) in no less than 5 hours. She left it at 61h.19m32s.

She also raced and won his first 100-mile race at Bryce Canyon Ultras in late May. This second year’s balance in the ultra trail was already starting to be eye-catching:… The 16OCT closed season with another victory at Indian Creek 50 miles. In her first two years running long, she already added five goals in big ultras. Among them, two victories, two bronzes and a fifth place on the day of her premiere. Not bad for someone who hadn’t even been running around for two years. And that, in the middle of the sports frenzy imposed on races around the world by COVID.


She traveled to the Andes in January, to face her first big summit outside the Rockies. She chose the 5,897m of the Cotopaxi volcano in Ecuador. A great choice, not only for the iconic beauty of this mountain that at the time I was also able to crown, as for the good logistics that exist to face it. Logical access, good base-shelter and a demanding top assault, albeit with escape routes if things twist. She successfully crowned and completed the expedition by climbing some smaller peaks.

So it revived the summit: I am still absolutely amazed after reaching the top of Cotopaxi (5,897 meters) at dawn this morning! This climbing adventure marked my first BIG ascent of the mountain, and WOW, the Cotopaxi hike was so unlike any other climb I’ve ever done. found before … in a very GOOD way, I must add. From crazy ice formations and cracks to a giant crater at the top, I’ll never forget the gratitude I felt for being included in this mountaineering experience with experts Stephen and Richard.

Cotopaxi Summit. Photo: Annie Hughes

MAY 1, 2021: First overall victory on Collegiate Peaks Trail 50 Miles. On her andes’ return she first ran the  Behind the Rocksv 50 miles, where she signed women’s gold and absolute top20. But her new leap forward came last weekend, when she shone on the same ground as her first 100 miles trip. Back at the Collegiate Peaks, to run “alone” 50 miles, she flew on the ground. First woman, first absolute and no less than 23min advantage to the first man. Race record, too… That’s how she reflected it on her social media: May 1 marked another memorable race on some of my favorite trails in collegiate Peaks’ 50-mile race in my adopted city of Buena Vista, CO! I finished my first absolute victory and set a new race record for the 50 miles. With 8h07m. I am grateful to have enjoyed such a beautiful spring day with the best support team waiting for me at the finish line! Thank you so much to the BV Optimist Club for hosting such an amazing event!


Today, Annie continues to study for a bachelor’s degree in education from Colorado Mountain College, Leadville. Run, ski, walk in the mountains. And like so many college students in the U.S., she alternates her online classes with her waitressing work at Treeline Kitchen. If you stop by and she’s not there, you’ll probably find Annie running down any trail, training for her next race. It gives me that if health and injuries respect it, it won’t take long for her to see her cross the ocean, to run along the trails of Pays Mont Blanc.

It won’t be this year, maybe, but in 2022…why not? ah! And she has a good memory: That story she heard in that first job in the store, about a French creator of long running shoes in the Alps, has led her to keep running to this day with the Hoka Speedgoat 4. What race will she dream of running once she finish “her” Leadville 100 Miles? 🙂

Annie Hughes running at Main Street, Leadville. Photo: Annie Hughes.



  • Collegiate Peaks           05/01/21    50 Miles    8:07:13            1T/1F
  • Behind the Rocks Ultra 03/27/21    50 Miles    9:51:14          17T 1F
  • Ascensión Cotopaxi.     01/09/2021  5897m.


  • Indian Creek Fifties 10/17/20       50 Miles    10:06:00            3T/ 1F
  • Bryce 100                05/30/20      100 Miles    28:16:43          15T/3F
  • Collegiate Loop      100 Miles/D+11.100m     61:19:32            FKT


  • Silver Rush 50           07/06/19      50 Miles    8:33:36           32T/3F
  • Jemez Mountain       05/25/19       50 Miles    10:27:56        6T/1F
  • Moab Red Hot          02/16/19       55 KM        5:19:15         25T/5F

Annie at La Plata Peak, Leadville. Photo: Annie Hughes.



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