Fun in the sun and a blazing 42k time
It may have been one of the best Alley Loops ever. There was sun, there was fun, there were some blazing fast times and there were a record 603 people looping in and around Crested Butte for the 29th Annual Alley Loop presented by Western State Colorado University (WSCU).
Crested Butte Nordic was thrown a major wrench leading up to the weekend of races as Mother Nature pounded Crested Butte with soaring temperatures, forcing a last-minute change to the course.
Nevertheless, thanks to the efforts of the town of Crested Butte and Crested Butte Nordic, when skiers lined up Saturday morning, they were treated to yet another great Alley Loop course for all distances, from the 1.5-kilometer kids’ race to the 42-kilometer marathon.
In and amongst the throngs of recreational skiers, there were numerous Nordic hammerheads who threw down in their respective distances. The most startling was Tyler Reinking. Reinking crushed the 42-kilometer skate race, finishing in one hour and 59 minutes and five seconds. The fastest 42-kilometer time seen at an Alley Loop.
Furthermore, last year race organizers ran out of commemorative bells for everyone who finished 42 kilometers in less than three hours. As a result, this year they ordered more and they still ran out, as course conditions were primed for fast skiing.
While all was moving along smoothly, organizers suffered another hiccup as the generator inflating the WSCU arch ran out of gas, causing the arch to collapse as the distance skiers were coming through for the second and/or third laps. Quick work by volunteers, led by race director Andrew Arell, lifted the arch for people to allow skiers through. The gas tank was topped off and all was back to normal within minutes.
Then, as the race was winding down, a lone gust of wind knocked down the timing apparatus at the finish line, rendering it unavailable. So if your time isn’t online, chances are that you finished sometime after four hours and 11 minutes.
In the end, the Alley Loop was yet another perfect mix of people who like to party and people who like to push it, and some who can do both.