Power of Four 50K trail torture test returns
The Aspen Times
Can anyone prevent J. Marshall Thomson for an historic three-peat in the Aspen Power of Four 50K trail race?
Thomson, the celebrated endurance athlete from Crested Butte, is the two-time reigning champion of the arduous trail trace that includes ascents and descents of all four ski mountains in Aspen/Snowmass.
Thomson, then 35, broke his own course record for the 31-mile torture test, finishing in 4 hours, 35 minutes and 7 seconds, breaking his previous record by 14 minutes.
Thomson also is a noted ski mountaineer, competing in the winter version of the Power of Four as well as the Grand Traverse backcountry ski race from Crested Butte to Aspen.
Thomson will chase his third consecutive trail running title in the Power of Four on Sunday when the race takes off from the base of Aspen Mountain at 6 a.m.
The course will take the runners up Aspen Mountain, down the back side, up Aspen Highlands and down, up Buttermilk and down and up Snowmass and down to the finish at Snowmass Village.
That’s about 10,000 feet of climbing in all.
There’s also a 25K Sunday that includes the Government Trail as well as the Buttermilk and Snowmass ski areas.
There is a new addition to the program this year with the U.S. Skyrunner Series Vertical K trail race on Saturday morning at Aspen Mountain.
The race, set for a 10:30 a.m. start, will take runners up Ajax (3 miles, 3,267 vertical feet).
Before the uphill race Saturday, there will be a free Clif Bar Fun Run with Dakota Jones of Durango, one of Colorado’s top trail runners.
Jones will meet runners at 9 a.m. Saturday for a trail run around the city of Aspen returning to the base of the gondola for the start of the Vertical K race at 10:30 a.m.
Registration information for the events, all sponsored by the Aspen Skiing Co., are available online at aspensnowmass.com.
Boulder ultrarunning standout Leila DeGrave won the women’s division last year, also in record time (5:51).
DeGrave, a decorated trail runner who has won in places like Leadville, broke Silke Koester’s Power of Four record.
Distance runner Paul Hamilton of Durango finished second to Thomson last year, also breaking the previous course record.
Yet another record fell last year in the 50K relay event when two valley mothers — former college roommates — teamed to win the overall relay title in 5:14.
Robin Severy-Pfautz and Carrie Messner-Vickers, two former running teammates at the University of Colorado, blitzed the field and broke a record set in 2013 by two men who split duties in the 31-mile trail run.
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