Mountain Mayhem: Elk Mountains Grand Traverse
Last weekend’s weather was perfect for The Elk Mountains Grand Traverse races – starting with a 40.7-mile run from Mt. Crested Butte to Aspen on Saturday, Sept. 4 with a 6,000-foot gain and 7,000-foot drop in elevation, then a mountain bike ride in the opposite direction the next day. A couple hundred participated in each race, which included some brave souls who toughed it out by taking part in both. Just the run was enough for me this time and I can’t wait to do it again.
The history of the Grand Traverse has its roots in ski mountaineering when the original race was conceived by Jan Runge of Crested Butte back in the ’90s. Partially based on the historical mail routes that connected the two Colorado mining towns in the 1880s, it also drew inspiration from the Patrouille des Glaciers, a point-to-point ski race in Switzerland which Runge had become familiar with in the ’80s.
In 1998, with the help of the community, Runge gave it a shot, sending a brave field of competitors from Crested Butte over the Elk Mountains to Aspen. It was a success and only grew in interest over the years. It’s now evolved to have a summer version with the run and bike races.
The spirit, camaraderie and weather all played in a part in the success last weekend and the Roaring Fork Valley was well represented with the champions for each race hailing from here – Simi Hamilton of Aspen clinching first in the run and Mike Sampson of Carbondale crossing the finish line first in the bike race.
Learn more about the Grand Traverse races online – thegrandtraverse.org.