Ajax summer uphill turns 10 on Saturday
Aspen’s hiking-season fitness test, the Aspen Mountain Summer Uphill, returns for a 10th edition Saturday morning.Similar to the America’s Uphill, the wintertime companion, the course entails 3,400 vertical feet of climbing. But instead of running straight up the snow-covered gut of Spar Gulch, the route follows the 4.4 miles of rocky, dusty Summer Road, switchbacking up the front side of the mountain to the Sundeck. And – Snowmass NORBA National racers take note – it’s open to mountain bikers. The second race of the Aspen Summer Race Series, entry costs $10 (tax deductible). The series benefits the Aspen High School cross-country program, raising about $4,000 for the Skier runners annually.
The mountain bikers will start at 8 a.m., followed by the runners and hikers at 8:15 a.m.”It’s the summer test piece of hill climbing in Aspen,” said race director Chris Keleher, who is also head coach of the AHS cross-country teams.”It’s just really steep uphill and if you’re under an hour, you know you’re rolling. That’s pretty much the way I look at it,” he continued. “It’s actually really hard to believe that this thing we started so long ago is now at number 10.”Jeremy Wright owns the course record for men’s runners (45 minutes, 24 seconds) from 1998.
Meagan Lund of Basalt set the women’s running record (56:06) last year.In the mountain biking division, both the men’s and women’s records were set in 2000, with Tom Hayles finishing in 51:23 and Barb Baysinger clocking in at 57:35.Keleher said he wasn’t aware of any ringers in the field, but he invited any mountain bike racers in town for the Snowmass national races to come take a crack at Ajax.
“Who knows who will show up,” he said. “But we can take as many people as show.”Register at the Ute Mountaineer in Aspen until 5 p.m. Friday or beginning at 7 a.m. on Saturday at the gondola patio.The third and final race of the Aspen Summer Race Series, the Chuck Severy Memorial 5K Cross Country Run, is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 9.
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Aspen Skiing Co. will delay the opening of Aspen Highlands until Dec. 18 due to lack of a base and scant snow in the forecast.