Highlands hosts up (and down) hill race Saturday | AspenTimes.com

Highlands hosts up (and down) hill race Saturday

Aspen Times Staff Report

The first of two unique up-and-down-hill races at the Aspen Highlands gets under way Saturday.

The two first-ever races – Saturday’s Aspen Highlands Uphill and “The Inferno,” set for Feb. 24 – will challenge racers’ stamina and strategy while negotiating uphill climbs and downhill descents.

In Saturday’s event, racers may travel by any means necessary – snowshoes, telemark skis, cross country skis or alpine tourning skis. And the fastest person to climb from the Highlands base to the Cloud Nine Bistro and then descend the zig-zagging course down to the Merry-Go-Round restaurant wins. Day-of-race conditions will likely dictate the favored mode of travel.

“I was going to call (the race) the great equalizer,” said race organizer Greg Kelman, “because what excites a lot of people about the race is that snowshoers won’t necessarily be fastest, which is the case in strictly uphill events. We’ve opened it up to everybody.”

The race begins at 7 a.m. with an uphill grunt from the base up to the Cloud Nine Bistro, an elevation gain of 2,730 feet. The course is currently marked for inspection.

Registration costs $25 in advance, or $35 the morning of the race, beginning at 6 a.m. The memorial event for John Roberts and Michael Hanrahan, who were killed in an avalanche near the Highlands in March of 2000, benefits Mountain Rescue Aspen.

“I thought it would be a good idea to have an uphill event at the Aspen Highlands, as a tribute and as something the community can get behind,” said Kelman. “Besides, Highlands is the mountain that most locals call their favorite, so it seems obvious to do something like this.”

Prizes will be awarded to the top men and women finishers in each age group. To preregister, call Kelman at 922-8000.

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