Smith three-peats in run, Finsterwald takes bike race in Grand Traverse
Cam Smith again defended his Grand Traverse running title on Saturday, a rare weekend of racing amid the coronavirus pandemic. Usually a trek from Crested Butte to Aspen by foot and then back the following day by bike, both Grand Traverse races started and finished in Crested Butte this year because of strict COVID-19 guidelines in Pitkin County.
Smith, who lives in Crested Butte, won the overall running title in 7 hours, 3 minutes, 4.32 seconds on the roughly 43.5-mile course. Smith won the 2019 race in 5:38:19 on the traditional CB to Aspen course. This year’s race proved to be much more difficult with a few more miles and more climbing involved.
Smith, a native of Illinois who is on the U.S. ski mountaineering team, also won the Grand Traverse foot race in 2018.
Finishing second on Saturday was Arizona’s Nick Coury in 7:03:6.21, in third was Carbondale’s T.J. David in 7:31:25.93 and in fourth was Gunnison’s Jeff Hern in 8:16:07.25.
The top female finisher was Boulder’s Nicole Mericle in 8:21:56.92. Mericle is a well-known obstacle-course racer who was the 2019 Spartan Race World Champion. Carbondale’s Zoe Rom was second among women in 8:59:34.51 and in third was Boulder’s Corinne Walsh in 9:11:40.34.
The mountain bike race was Sunday, which was held on a similar course, only in reverse. Winning the race was Russell Finsterwald, a pro rider out of Colorado Springs, in 4:10:54.90. California’s Chad Hall was second in 4:20:37.59 and in third was Golden’s Ian Blythe in 4:26:51.62.
The top woman was Gunnison’s Jennifer Smith, who had a time of 5:30:34.31. Smith also won the Grand Traverse bike race in both 2016 and 2014, the latter being the inaugural race. In second on Sunday was Alaska’s Najeeby Quinn (5:49:08.38) and in third was Crested Butte’s Jari Hiatt (6:06:24.95).
Normally, event organizer Crested Butte Nordic would award a Triple Crown winner for the best combined times from the three races. However, with the skimo race having been canceled after the coronavirus pandemic outbreak, there was no Triple Crown winner awarded for 2020.
No decision has yet been made on the 2021 ski mountaineering race.
When asked if he is receiving any insider information on the terrain, Aleksander Aamodt Kilde — the boyfriend of Edwards’ own Mikaela Shiffrin — chuckled and replied, “You probably think so, but I actually I don’t.”