Snowmass 50 mountain bike race, Power of Four run officially a go with limited field
Amid a world of canceled sporting events, Aspen Skiing Co. is going forward with its popular Power of Four races, albeit with much less aplomb. Skico officially announced Wednesday the Snowmass 50 mountain bike race (July 25-26) and the Power of Four trail run (Aug. 1-2) as ready to roll.
“We put together a plan and the county and the town and everyone was comfortable with it. So we are excited to do it. It feels good, for sure,” said Deric Gunshor, Skico’s director of event development. “There was a lot of uncertainty on what it was going to take to pull it off and have it make sense. But we’d rather, even if it’s on a smaller scale and a different thing than we had envisioned, we really wanted to try and do something.”
On top of what has become standard in the COVID-19 world — social distancing and facemasks, for example — this year’s races will be capped at 50 bikers or runners per race to abide by local coronavirus-related safety guidelines. Gunshor said those races already are close to filling up and he expects them to have a mostly local flavor compared to previous years because of the smaller field.
Outside of the weekly Aspen Cycling Club events, the Snowmass 50 mountain bike race will be the first significant running or biking event in the Aspen area since the pandemic started. Many other popular local races, such as July’s Aspen Valley Marathon and Boogie’s Buddy Race, were canceled. The Aspen Backcountry Marathon, originally scheduled for Aug. 8, won’t take place this year. September’s Golden Leaf Half Marathon hasn’t officially been canceled, but registration is currently postponed.
“Typically we are drawing a lot of people from out of town to do these races,” Gunshor said, “and our feeling with this cap is at least this will provide some of the locals with a race to participate in, because there really isn’t much else going on.”
The Snowmass 50, scheduled for July 25, is only in its second year. The Power of Four mountain bike race typically took riders over all four of Skico’s mountains, but last summer they took a different approach and kept it exclusively in Snowmass. This concept has returned for 2020, with Skico officially dropping the “Power of Four” moniker from the mountain bike race, although it remains part of that family of races.
Instead of a mass start, the 50-mile solo race will include five waves of 10 riders each and feature some of the best singletrack Snowmass has to offer. On Sunday, July 26, there will be a 50-mile team race (two riders per team). The 25-mile solo race was canceled to stay within coronavirus guidelines.
“We got really good feedback on that. It’s pretty much all singletrack and it’s all trails people ride frequently,” Gunshor said of moving the mountain bike race to Snowmass only. “Whereas the old Power of Four course, once you get past Buttermilk, it’s not necessarily trails that people mountain bike. That really was the impetus for the change and so we are excited to do it this way again.”
Lakewood’s Thomas Herman won last year’s 50-mile race in 4 hours, 52 minutes, 41.4 seconds. Herman also won the traditional Power of Four race in 2018. Aspen local Jessie Young took top honors for the women in 2019, winning in 5:53:49.4.
The Power of Four trail runs are scheduled for Aug. 1 (50k race from Aspen to Snowmass) and Aug. 2 (25k race from Tiehack to Snowmass). Like the mountain bike races, the field will be limited to 50 athletes per race and the 10k race has been canceled. The foot races will maintain their traditional Power of Four courses featuring all four Skico mountains.
The Triple Crown — which awarded the best combined finishers from all three Power of Four races, including the winter’s ski mountaineering race — has officially been dropped by Skico.
“It just never really gained traction,” Gunshor said of the Triple Crown. “There weren’t a lot of people that were doing it. No one really seemed to care about it, so we just kind of moved on from it. Just evolving with the times as we can.”
For complete details on the race and to register in advance, visit http://www.aspensnowmass.com.
Fully aware he was in the midst of the mountain bike race of his life, Aspen’s John Gaston said he “tried to not think too far ahead” to prevent the magnitude of the moment from getting to him. He eventually finished runner-up in the iconic race.
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