UltraHouse for Runners: This Place Will Transform Your Training

Have you ever wondered what your life would be like if you could focus all of your energy and time on the pursuits you enjoy most?

Perhaps you’d dive in and become a full time runner, writer, artist, or a combination of all three.

FYI...Living the full-time athlete life may not be as far from your reach as you may think.

Step into the UltraHouse in Durango, Colo.

Ready to transform your training?

At Ultrahouse Durango (UHD), athletes hone their craft in an immersive, supportive, and accessible environment.

Nestled in the southwest corner of Colorado at 6,757 feet above sea level, amidst alpine peaks and high altitude deserts, UltraHouse Durango is a haven for:

  • Minimalistic...
  • Starving-artist athlete types...
  • Who are pursuing passion...
  • Striving for greatness in their corner of sport...
  • And seeking meaning in the larger context of life

Ready to book a trip? 

Here's how it all started...

Anthony Kunkel an ultrarunner with 50-mile and 100K national titles. He's also the founder of the UltraHouse in Durango, Colo.

UltraHouse: A trail runner's paradise

It all started with a dream...

Anthony Kunkel, 2017 50 mile and 2018 100k national champion and owner/director of UHD, dreamt of providing dedicated athletes with the opportunity to run semi-professionally and professionally by lowering the barrier to entry to the highest levels of the sport. 

“From 17 or 18 years old, I would’ve dropped anything I was doing in order to be in a beautiful mountain town, with a team to train with, a sauna, weights, and a well-stocked supplement stash to play with," says Anthony. 

"Since a program to invite me didn’t exist, I set about creating one.”  

UltraHouse founder and runner Anthony Kunkel (left) trains outside with a fellow athlete in Durango, Colo.

Soon after moving to Golden, Colo., from the Midwest, Kunkel discovered the southwest corner of the state, specifically Durango.

Without hesitation, he purchased the humble, yet perfectly suited 1,300square-foot manufactured home located a stone’s throw from:

  • Miles of San Juan National Forest single-track
  • And two miles south of the southern terminus of the 486 mile-long Colorado Trail. 

Over the years, Kunkel kept his door open and the invites flowing; thus, the dream of Ultrahouse Durango became reality, with one thing in mind...

"As far as I’m concerned the only acceptable goal is to change the essence of endurance athletics at the top level, and do it with a commune," says Anthony.

From left to right: Abby Lock, Josh Ried, Anthony Kunkel, DJ Fox, Javier Escobar, Aranxa Ventura, and Kelly Glynn. DJ Fox’s victory at WTM 2023!

The UltraHouse Durango is home to:

  • Anthony Kunkel (2x 100k National Champion and Ultrahouse Director)
  • DJ Fox (Elite Men’s Obstacle Course Race Athlete and Coach and 2023 World’s Toughest Mudder Champion)
  • Joshua Ried (Elite Men’s Obstacle Course Race/Mountain Athlete and Coach)
  • Abby Lock (Trail/Mountain athlete and nutrition/wellness Coach)
  • Kelly Glynn (Elite Women’s Obstacle Course Race Athlete)
  • Aranxa Ventura (House Media Maven and resident artist)
  • Winston, Mack, and Maeve (Ultrahouse canine and feline mascots) 🐕 🐱 

And you could be next.

An athlete's journey to the Ultrahouse

Every athlete comes to the UltraHouse with a unique background and story, but with enough commonalities around lifestyle and training philosophy, they form a cohesive unit, whether they're here for a few weeks or longer.

🚍Josh Ried was living out of his van on the east coast when his curiosity was piqued by Kunkel’s open invite to the Ultrahouse Durango

“People at the house have opened my eyes to new styles of training, different ways of supplementing, and new tools," says Josh. "The group effect here, the camaraderie, it’s powerful."

You don’t have to live at Ultrahouse Durango full time to understand the power of a cohesive group of runners.

Kelsey Childs, runner and podcaster, who visited in May 2022 said:

"Going to UHD is like going home. It’s a complete physical and mental reset. It’s not just the mountains, but the people occupying the space." 

"There’s never any judgment or expectations. Just be yourself, have fun, and spread loving kindness.”

Daily life at Ultrahouse Durango is simple:

  • Train
  • Recover
  • Eat
  • And grow–both as an athlete and as a human. 

Aptly coined “monk mode,” these daily, repetitive routines are staples to achieving peak athletic performance in the UltraHouse. 

During the summer months, a typical day at the UltraHouse includes cold exposure.

A typical day for a UHD athlete looks something like this:

  • 8 a.m. Wake up
  • Begin hydrating with a liter of water 
  • Cold exposure at 9 a.m. In summer, this means a cold plunge in the creek nearby. In winter, snow angels in the yard.
  • Delayed caffeine for at least 90 minutes from waking
  • Infrared sauna for 20-45 minutes
  • Mobility and prep for AM run
  • 11 a.m. Run #1 (up to 2 hours). Depending on the athlete's training phase and preference, this first run is fasted.
  • 1 p.m. eat lunch and hydrate
  • 2-5 p.m. Computer work and rest/recovery
  • 5 p.m. Run #2 or strength work/mobility–perhaps even a 5-minute “house plank”
  • 6 or 7 p.m. Dinner rotation in the UHD kitchen
  • At sunset, minimal blue light in the house–red light only
  • 7 p.m. team movie, jam session, or general relaxation
  • 10 p.m. quiet hours begin

While this routine varies across training periods and individual athletes, everyone in the house believes in the positive impact of having established daily routines. 

UltraHouse athlete Josh Ried is an elite Men’s Obstacle Course Race/Mountain Athlete and coach.

“One of the biggest resounding things for people who come here is that you can truly run easy and that you shouldn’t underestimate the power of little things," says semi-professional athlete and coach, Josh Ried.

"Having daily practices from morning to sundown that revolve around physical and mental health and wellbeing is really rewarding.” 

The Monk Bunk

The power of 'monk mode'

Kunkel also emphasizes the applicability of “monk mode” regardless of your athletic background or ability.

Whether you’re ready to go all in on running and disappear into your craft or if you’re more of a casual runner who wants to try on a train-cation, the Ultrahouse is a testing ground for implementing new routines and practices.

Wondering what training, nutrition, recovery, and everything else looks like at UltraHouse Durango?

Here's what you need to know...

Scott Brooke is a busy dad and ultramarathoner who spent some time at UltraHouse Durango.

The UltraHouse training experience

Easy running is the name of the game for UHD training.

Even the fastest, fittest athletes recognize the importance of easy aerobic running.

A typical day of running at Ultrahouse Durango consists of...

  • Running MANY 10+minute miles. 
  • There’s a time and a place to lay down the hammer. 

“Maybe the most impactful nugget I took away was ‘go slow’," says busy dad and ultrarunner Scott Brooke, who spent some time at UltraHouse Durango.

"The house would all run together for many miles," says Scott.

"To see elites running ‘slow’ paces for so many miles definitely made me a believer. When it was time to run 'fast,' they definitely did. But it was evident that slowing down is where it was at!”

UltraHouse is well-stocked with healthy-food options, and supplements. But with a lot of hard training and racing, there's room for dessert, too.

UltraHouse nutrition: Even athletes eat dessert

Enter the UHD kitchen and you’ll hear terms like:

  • “Monk mode”
  • “Sardine supreme”
  • "Liver night” 

With a heavy focus on fueling, UHD athletes prioritize health and wellness as a foundation for improving performance. 

  • Cast iron skillets...
  • Butter...
  • Plants...
  • Meat & poultry...

...are quintessential cooking and dietary staples of an UHD athlete. But make no mistake, simple food doesn’t equate to boring food. 

Take a closer look at the shelves and counters, and you’ll notice:

  • Mason jars of homemade kefir
  • Freezer bags full of local, grass fed bovine organ meats
  • A pressure cooker brimming with an indefinite supply of bone broth

It is by no means a requirement to eat in this manner when you visit the house, but it is a novel and exciting experience for many.

If those last few sentences invoked any type of visceral bodily response, don’t worry! 

Somewhere in the freezer, wedged behind the marrow bones and liver, you’ll also find tubs of Death by Chocolate ice cream.

Because everyone, especially elite athletes, need some ice cream once in a while. 

The UltraHouse Durango includes two infrared saunas and many other tools and equipment to support recovery.

UltraHouse recovery will leave you feeling Ah-Mazing

Recovery: In the words of Hannah Carta, elite women’s obstacle course race (OCR) athlete & friend of UHD:

"Parts of the work are HARD and they should be! But the culture built within Ultrahouse Durango is one that doesn't overlook or negate the necessity of rest.”

STRESS + ADEQUATE RECOVERY = GROWTH

It's a fundamental training theory athletes live by at UltraHouse.

UHD athletes are constantly balancing this equation with:

  • Strength training
  • Mobility exercises
  • Bodywork sessions

You’ll find evidence of this in one glance around the living room of UltraHouse Durango:

  • Foam rollers of varying sizes and materials
  • Massage guns
  • Muscle scrapers
  • Voodoo floss
  • A pso-rite mobility tool
  • Two infrared saunas by Sauna Space
  • Balance pads
  • Resistance bands
  • A bike trainer
  • A trap bar deadlift setup
  • And a vast array of kettlebells

“Infrared light is my favorite form of recovery because it is less stressful on the eyes," says Josh.

"The light sets a calm mood around the house. Since we’re athletes and intentionally stress our bodies, we want to mitigate non-ideal stressors, and the red light does a lot for that.” 

UltraHouse camps often include 2 groups runs a day, along with many other activities to support training, nutrition, and recovery.

Transform your training at an UltraHouse camp

If you’ve ever toyed with the idea of signing up for a multi-day running camp hosted by elite athletes, you probably know that they often come with a substantial price tag.

That’s where Ultrahouse Durango steps in.

UHD hopes to increase accessibility without breaking the bank by hosting donation-based training camps for runners of all levels. 

These camps are ideal for runners who are interested in:

  • Taking their training to a new level (quite literally given the altitude 6,522 feet above sea level)
  • Learning more about themselves
  • Creating meaningful connections with other motivated athletes
  • Founder Anthony Kunkel is serious about this. Camp cost: "$5 to $500 is the going rate around here," he says.
Ultrarunner Scott Brooke (middle) attended UltraHouse camp in May 2022.

When Scott Brooke visited UHD in May of 2022, he experienced this firsthand.

"Not once was there an expectation of paying money to stay or use the tools and supplements they offer," says Scott.

"But if you have the financial means, you pick the price based on what you get out of it."

"I can tell you from experience, you’ll get access to world class tools (multiple saunas to use anytime) as well as free elite level advice." 

"Where else can you talk to elite athletes and absorb knowledge without an inflated price tag attached to it?” 

On top of advice from the elite athletes who live at UHD full time, the donation-based Ultrahouse Durango camps offer an amenities list you just might confuse with that of an all-inclusive resort & spa–well, almost… 

Typical offerings at an Ultrahouse Durango Training Camp:

  • Trigger point therapy with Durango Movement
  • Holotropic Breathwork with Isa Visanti
  • Laughter yoga with Amir Drissi
  • Infrared Sauna by Sauna Space 
  • Outdoor cold exposure 
  • Group Runs 1-2x per day (ability/level dependent 5 miles-12+ miles daily)
  • Access to a Nordic Track treadmill (can be converted to a sauna treadmill)
  • Access to a range of strength and recovery tools
  • Access to a grip rig for OCR, rock climbing, and general fitness fun 
  • Performance product testing
  • Encouragement to get out of your comfort zone!
  • Group grocery store trips (have no fear if you’re without a car)
  • Tranquil, functional, communal workspace equipped with WiFi
  • Bunkroom-style housing (coined the “Monk Bunk”) 

Upcoming donation-based UltraHouse Training Camps & Events

 Snowdown Ultrahouse Durango Camp (February 1st-6th)

  • Scheduled to align perfectly with the annual Snowdown Festival hosted by the city of Durango, this running camp is designed to move you out of the doldrums of winter training, as it happily compliments winter festivities like the infamous Snowdown lego run, bed race, competitive arm wrestling, and parade of lights. 

Point-to-Point Pilgrimage to El Santuario de Chimayo, NM from Durango, CO (March 26-April 7)

  • 250-miles over 14 days
  • Options to intercept the team in Durango or Albuquerque, NM
  • Options to bike, run, or a bit of both
  • Asking $25 per day to cover costs

Project May-Hem (May 10-17th)

  • Named and themed in honor of one of the house’s favorite movies–David Fincher’s 1999 film, Fight Club–the Project May-Hem camp occurs just in time for early trail season. 
  • This camp is here to remind you that “you’re not your job”. 
  • “You’re not how much money you have in the bank. You’re not the car you drive. You’re not the contents of your wallet.” 
UltraHouse Durango is perfectly located near miles of trails.

UltraHouse Durango: Miles of trails from the front door

If amenities and affordability aren’t enough to provoke intrigue with UHD, its location just might. UHD Owner/Director, Kunkel, prides himself in scoring a location with unmatched access to some of the most scenic trail and road running routes in the West. 

Porch to Peak running routes from Ultrahouse Durango:

To Gudy’s Rest via the Colorado Trail

  • A 12-mile out/back route on 4 miles of road and 8 miles of trail.
  • 1,394ft vertical gain over 6 miles to reach Gudy’s Rest scenic overlook.  

The Nose Loop

  • A 9-mile lollipop route on 3 miles of road, and 6 miles of trail/gravel.
  • 965ft vertical gain over the first 4 miles.

Log Chutes

  • Multi-use mountain bike loops with varying distances and technicality
  • Trailhead located 4 miles from UHD

Animas Overlook via 171 Forest Road

  • Gently climbing 6% grade
  • Gravel road with moderate to light traffic 
  • 9 miles up to the overlook with 2000 ft vertical gain

Animas Mountain

  • 9 mile loop route on 1 mile of road and 8 miles of trail
  • 1,539 ft vertical gain over ~3 miles

Sailing Hawks

  • ~4 mile loop route on 1 mile of road and 3 miles of trail
  • 346 ft vertical gain over 3 miles
  • Popular bouldering area 

Church Camp Trail 

  • via Falls Creek Road 

Animas River Trail

  • Approximately 1.5 miles from UHD, the Animas River Trail offers 7.6 miles of concrete running parallel to the Animas River.
  • 1% average grade, climbing ~300 feet south to north

Additional routes close by:

UHD founder Anthony Kunkel and the rest of the athletes help every visitor feel at home.

UHD athletes will teach you the power of 'monk mode'

UHD porch and grip rig.

What's next for UltraHouse Durango?

The long-term vision of UHD, shared by all athletes involved, is to:

  • Host a full-time team of athletes who are working towards their highest selves in the realm of athletic performance. 
  • The donation-based camps open the door to curious runners, but the experience doesn’t have to end there. 

The next phase of UHD...

While he has no interest in making more money than needed to feed himself and his pup, Winston, Kunkel realizes that the UHD dream is growing fast, and requires more resources and space than it currently has. 

Kunkel is currently in the market for land on which he hopes to construct:

  • an OCR course
  • A proper cold plunge
  • Low-impact living spaces for the athletes–all with an environmentally conscious theme

“At this point, I’ve maxed out what can be done by simply sharing my life," says Anthony. 

"The next few steps of this vision will demand sponsor dollars. I want everyone here to be living with an undersized carbon footprint but an oversized impact on their sport and hopefully even the world,” said Kunkel.

If you’re one of those athletes looking for a sign to take your running to a new, higher level, this is it.

Endurance coach and 2023 World’s Toughest Mudder Champion, DJ Fox says: 

“There will never be a perfect time to start, so there is no better time than now. If you love running and it’s calling to you to go ‘all in,’ you should do it…This is a game of years and decades." 

"Get to work, stay consistent, and love the process. That’s the only way.”

Ultrahouse Durango also has sister programs in:

You won’t find any corporate branding or bylaws for opening an Ultrahouse, so the vibe and athletic focus of each house reflects those of the owner.

However, there are TWO fundamental commonalities that align the programs: 

  1. Love where you live, and be willing/excited to share it with others
  2. Have a soft spot for the starving artist types 

For more information about UltraHouse Durango...

Want to learn more about the Ultrahouse Durango? 

  • Check out their website HERE
  • You can request a spot in one of the upcoming donation-based camps here. 
  • If you just want more information about what UHD is all about, give their new Instagram page and each athlete a follow, and don’t hesitate to slide into their DMs! 
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Abigail Lock
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Durango, CO
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Endurance athlete with a proclivity for mountain running and high altitude desert dwelling. NASM Certified Sports Nutriti...

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