Grand Traverse returns to Aspen this weekend with trail run, bike race
Now in its fifth year, the summer Grand Traverse is set to make its return to Aspen on Saturday with the annual trail run, followed by Sunday’s mountain bike race back to Crested Butte.
Organized by the Crested Butte Nordic Council since the first race in 2014, the event utilizes the popular mountain route from Aspen to Crested Butte. The North Face took over as the title sponsor in 2018.
Saturday’s foot race starts at 6 a.m. in downtown Crested Butte and will finish at Ajax Park, located at 1001 Ute Ave. in Aspen. Beer from Upslope Brewing Co. and food from Smoke Modern Barbeque in Basalt will be available at the finish. An awards ceremony is scheduled for 2 p.m. at Ajax Park.
The course is 40.7 miles long and includes 6,197 feet of climbing with 7,072 feet of descending. The route follows the same one used during the Grand Traverse ski mountaineering race in the winter.
“There have been some drops, but we are still really astounded by how many people are intrigued or into suffering that much,” race director Andrew Arell said of those opting to compete in both races this weekend. “We are happy people are attracted to challenging themselves in that way.”
On Sunday, those taking part in the mountain bike race back to Crested Butte will get going at 7 a.m. from Ajax Park, which is a new starting location for the 2018 race. They’ll take Summer Road up and over Aspen Mountain on their way to Crested Butte. The finish is located at the base area of Crested Butte Mountain Resort. The awards ceremony is again scheduled for 2 p.m.
Live results will be provided by Rocky Mountain Timing.
For the handful of people who will have competed in all three Grand Traverse races — the skimo race was held back in March — the Triple Crown will be up for grabs and awarded after the mountain bike race. In its third year, it recognizes the top male and female to finish with the best combined time from all three races.
Carbondale’s Sean Van Horn and Gunnison’s Cam Smith paired up to win the skimo race in 6 hours, 32 minutes, and both are expected to go for the Triple Crown this weekend. Crested Butte’s Billy Laird sits in third among the Triple Crown contenders, having finished the skimo race in 6:58:49.
Aspen’s Max Taam won last year’s Triple Crown for the men, holding off Van Horn. Van Horn won the foot race in 2017 in a touch over six hours, while Gunnison’s Bryan Dillon won the bike race.
The women’s Triple Crown looks like it will go to Silverthorne’s Jill Seager, who also won last year’s title. She enters having finished the skimo race in 7:33:19. Her closest competitor, Basalt’s Madeline Fones, withdrew from this weekend’s races because of injury, leaving Seager’s next closest competition more than two hours back. Fones won the running portion of the 2017 Grand Traverse, while Steamboat’s Mindy Mulliken won the bike race.
For more, go to thegrandtraverse.org.
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