Monday, April 7, 2014

Racing in the snow

I'm a little behind in updating my virtual audience... but a lot has happened. I've kept up my "outdoorsy" thing to do every day, but decided not to post it EVERY DAY because, well, it was annoying. Even if it's a little walk. I'm out there. I promise. 

There are bigger things than just a little stroll at sunset like the GRAND Traverse. Anything with the word "grand" in it is quite epic. Or it's supposed to be. So let me tell you our grand story: 

On the eve of Thursday March 27th, the husband and I drove all the way down to Crested Butte. Cute little ski town. My husband (not me) was doing a race called the Grand Traverse scheduled to start in good 'ole Crested Butte on Friday night (at midnight... so Saturday?!) and finish sometime between 10am and 4pm, 40 miles later, in Aspen Ski Resort. Get it? Grand Traverse. 

Crested Butte
Due to snow conditions of EPIC (Grand?!) proportions the race directors decided to not go over Star Pass into Aspen and do it an out-and-back course. They call it the Grand Reverse. They've done the "reverse" 3 times in the past 17 years. Athletes complained about the "reverse" being too easy and so race directors got out of their way to make it a little more challenging. Yeah, if you talk to anyone who did the race this year, you'll probably hear how insanely hard it was. 

My man, unfortunately, was a victim of a poorly designed course and got "cut-off" at mile 35 and was asked to take a skin track to a random trail head. It was a 4 mile trek out of the backcountry. He completed 39 miles in 15h45m and was, unfortunately, 9 miles away from the finish (even though he was only 5 miles away at one point). He was the tiredest and coldest I've ever seen him. Me? I was sunburned as hell. Literally. Hell. 

All the crap he carried in his pack for this race
At the mandatory athlete meeting, the race director to very proudly announce that EVERY athlete WILL BE DONE by 11:30 in the morning. My man's GPS tracking device was not working and I just assumed he wouldn't be last, he'd be in the middle of the pack finishing between 9:00 and 10:00. Woke up bright and early after not sleeping much and headed out to the base of Crested Butte Mountain Resort at 8:30. I was waiting for him under the sun for 3h45m when he called and said he was going to come out at a trail head slightly outside of town. I drove there and stood another 3 hours waiting for him. No protection aside from some sunscreen I wore at 8:00am. Let me tell you this: a little sunscreen does NOTHING to you when you are standing for 7 hours in the snow with no clouds above you. 

Trail head where I got to pick up my dying man. 
The poor planning and decision-making made the race directors look... not so good. While they'd said their last athlete would come in at 11:30, MANY athletes were out there struggling well after that time. Their last athlete came in past 6:30pm. Yes, almost 17 hours into the race. This is why they implemented a random cut-off without really announcing it to the athletes. Those athletes that didn't make the cut-off were not very happy. 

I let my man recover with a hot shower and a couple hour nap and I woke him up. He had not had a REAL meal since dinner the night before. We went to a steakhouse and enjoyed a massive meal. 

Today, he's got some toenails that I'm not sure are still attached to his feet, but he likes to carry them around. He has some blisters that require daily poking. But he's a trooper and has gone on a couple runs with me regardless. Aside from my summer tan in the mountains, I got to do some hill intervals on ski slopes and run on the very packed skin track. This I assure you, it was no vacation for me either. 

Looking forward to visiting Crested Butte in the summer for some amazing trail running. The views are absolutely amazing. 

Skiers heading uphill at the start of the race. 
What's the craziest race you've done and what's the most frustrated you've been at a race due to poor communication and direction? 

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