“This year we’ll be skiing”
The events are in place, your training should be done and now it’s time to hurry up and wait for the 16th Annual GORE-TEX® Elk Mountains Grand Traverse presented by Outdoor Research and Dynafit at Midnight Friday, March 29.
Bryan Wickenhauser, Grand Traverse race official and defending champion along with Brian Smith, puts it this way.
“Quit training so hard right now,” says Wickenhauser. “Put the feet up, there’s nothing you can do right now that will improve your fitness.”
The course this year will be the same as last year with one major tweak: there should be some snow. Last year, hillsides were burnt off on the early portion of the course in the East River Valley forcing competitors to run a long section to get to the snow. But things are looking better for the race this year.
“This year, we’ll be skiing,” says Wickenhauser.
Reports from some preliminary course inspections last weekend speak of snow from start to finish and a snowpack that continues to tighten up. But, as we all know, it is the Rocky Mountains and anything can happen.
The snow safety team is slated to head out on Monday, March 25 (probably just after recovering from racing in the Al Johnson on Sunday) and Kevin Krill will be joining them to provide daily updates of course conditions and the status of the snowpack that can be found online at www.elkmountainstraverse.com.
Meanwhile, while waiting and relaxing, there will be a litany of events leading up to the race open to racers as well as the general public.
It all kicks off with the Dynafit Nachtspektakel on Tuesday, March 26 from 5-8:30 p.m. Meet at 9380 at the base area to go in a group or on your own to the restaurant 10 Peaks at top of Painter Boy lift for a bonfire, drinks and eats and start trading Grand Traverse stories.
On Thursday, March 28 there will be plenty of gear expos and instructional clinics. The Outdoor Research/Dynafit Uphill Demo Center will be up and running from 9 a.m.- 4 p.m. offering up free demos on their gear. From 2-4 p.m. there will be an Ortovox Beacon Park and from 4:30-6 p.m. you can partake in the Dynafit “Skin with the Pros,” complete with a few tricks of the trade from seasoned veterans.
Meanwhile, racers will have their first shot at check in and gear check in at the Grand Ballroom at Mountaineer Square from11 a.m.-5 p.m. The gear check-in is spread out over two days to give teams plenty of time to get it done, hassle free.
“We’re trying to alleviate the one day stress fest,” says Wckenhauser.
Finish Thursday off with a Backcountry Film Festival from 7-8:30 p.m. again in the Grand Ballroom at Mountaineer Square.
Lead up to the race comes to a head on Friday, March 29 starting with the final racer check in and gear check from 9a.m. – 11:30 a.m. in the Grand Ballroom. There will be a vendor expo going on from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. Lunch for racers will be served at noon followed by the mandatory racers meeting from 1 – 1:45 p.m.
Go home, relax, as best you can, do not drill holes in your boots and then return for the Mandatory Final Check-In, Ortovox Beacon Check and SPOT Check from 10:30-11:30 p.m.
The race starts at Midnight at the base of Crested Butte Mountain Resort.