Wille brothers take second in rerouted Grand Traverse
The brothers Wille – Pierre and Andre – took second overall in the second annual Elk Mountain Grand Traverse race held in Crested Butte over the weekend.
“Pierre Wille came across first, but their team took second because Andre was about 20 seconds behind two racers from Crested Butte,” said race organizer Jan Runge. “It was an amazing finish, it was so beautiful watching those guys come in.”
The winning team completed the course in six hours, 51 minutes, 37 seconds.
The Grand Traverse race typically follows a 40-mile backcountry route from Crested Butte to Aspen, however heavy snowfalls and foul weather forced race organizers to create a loop race this year, starting and finishing in Crested Butte.
“My avalanche team couldn’t even make it up to the Friend’s Hut to assess the avalanche danger,” Runge said of the harsh winter conditions that forced the race to be rerouted. “We got 37 inches of snow at the hut, and there were winds whipping up to 80 miles an hour.
“We got the call at 10 a.m. Friday morning that we couldn’t do the Elk Mountain traverse route, so we had to scramble to pull it off,” Runge said. “On Thursday, alternate routes were being scouted, and Friday they just broke trail – and not on any real backcountry route – and created a race course. We’ve got some good volunteers over here.
The modified race course ran up Brush Creek to the base of Star Pass, and then halfway back from there to a valley, then straight up to a saddle to another drainage called Ferris Creek, Runge said.
Runge estimated the entire course to be about 36 miles, with an elevation gain of about 5,000 to 6,000 feet.
Fifty-five two-person teams completed the race; 75 teams were registered to compete.
“It kicked their butts for sure,” Runge said of the route.
The top 10 teams to finish were: J. Faust/P. O’Neil, 6:51.37; A. Wille/P. Wille, 6:51.53; B. Dodge/T. Moore, 6:55.59; J. Hollenbaugh/D. Penny, 6:59.15; D. Scheefer/ J. Frank, 7:01.55; B. Wade/C. Ward, 7:12.03; J. Anthony/S. Smith, 7:17.35; A. Hadley/C. Oleson, 7:27.34; S. Cook/G. Bullock, 7:39.33; N. Oldham/D. Raleigh, 7:47.30.
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