Dave Wiens, Brynne O’Connell take solo titles
by Than Acuff
The CB3P is here to stay so you may want to get in on it before it explodes. This year attracted an incredible cross-section of athletes, including a mountain biking world champion, a man who has climbed Everest (from the Chinese side), a World Skyrunning champion, Grand Traverse champions, and a host of everyday people just like you and me.
Once again Mother Nature threatened to quash the CB3P energy, as participants and organizers woke up on race day to cloudy skies and temperatures in the mid-30s at the starting line in Mt. Crested Butte.
Yet, there was hope on the horizon since reports of sunny skies in Gunnison, free New Belgium beer, food from Mikey’s Pizza, some home-batch whisky and the indomitable stoke and efforts of Dave Ochs, Tiff Simpson and Eliza Cress kept racers focused on the finish line.
Seventy-one participants, a record turnout for the young event, started out in Mountaineer Square with the classic Le Mans sprint start, jog start for some and a walk start for others, before braving the mixed bag ski conditions on Crested Butte Mountain Resort. And while a majority of the racers hailed from the Gunnison Valley, the event is gaining fame throughout the west—people came from Salida, Grand Junction, Salt Lake City and as far as Driggs, Idaho to get in the mix.
Gear has definitely tightened up since the first year but there was still the old steel road bike, the random flotation device and the “upgrade” that Mickey Cook made to his gear whereby he actually screwed the heels of his leather telemark boots to his skis at the top of the climb before making the descent down Crested Butte Mountain.
The biggest battle of the day among the racers came at the front of the pack as it took the three-man team of Billy Laird, Brian Smith and Milo Wynne to hold off solo racer Dave Wiens, a.k.a. the Vanilla Gorilla.
Wiens came out of the ski section in second place overall and hopped on his modus operandi, the bike, to take the lead.
Defending overall champions Team Green skier Billy Laird finished three minutes back from Wiens and tagged off to Brian Smith for the bike section. Smith posted a record-setting time on his bike, covering the 27 miles in a time of 52 minutes, 17 seconds, to eventually reel in Wiens.
“I had the carrot on the end of the stick,” says Smith.
“I pretty much could have snowshoed the way Brian rode,” adds Laird. “Brian saved Team Green.”
Wiens and Smith reached the water transition at the same time, the only difference was that Smith got to tag off to teammate Milo Wynne while Wiens hopped off of his bike and into his boat.
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Wynne sealed the overall win in his boat but Wiens garnered the deserved accolades, having nearly taken down a team of three all by himself and taking the men’s solo title. Jesse Rickert was just 42 seconds behind Wiens and Allen Hadley rounded out the men’s podium, placing third with all three taking home some cold hard cash.
On the women’s side of things, Brynne O’Connell built enough of a gap during the opening ski section to hang on through the bike and paddling sections for the solo title. Carrie Jo Hicks and Sydney Dickinson hit the beach at the same time but Hicks was a half a step ahead of Dickinson, carrying their boats across the finish line to take second and third place 1/100ths of a second apart. All three women also took home some money for their efforts.
Meanwhile… the regular folk were duking it out as well and had relatively smooth sailing from start to finish. While past years have hammered racers with a variety of weather patterns, this year there was only the occasional headwind on the bike section and the weather just got better as they made their way from Mt. Crested Butte to the finish line in Gunnison.
Team FRO of Megan Paden and Andi Goodnough maintained their team dynamic all race long, skiing up and down together, jumping on a classic Willits tandem for the bike and then a two-person kayak for the paddle.
The unofficial action family team of the race, Adam and Hallie Mahowald, came from Salida with what appeared to be their 10-month old child. Adam skied, then grabbed the child as Hallie biked, then Adam gave the child back to its mom before jumping into the water for the paddle section.
Some people went the ultimate casual route, skiing and riding at a comfortable pace and then jumping into a raft with friends and family for the float to the finish line.
And, once again, the finish line was bathed in the afternoon sun as racers traded stories from the trails in between complimentary beverages and turns on the ROMP shotski, while a gang-load of prizes and awards were handed out.
The icing on the cake for race creator Tiff Simpson came when the numbers were all tallied and she reached a goal she set when she first came up with the event. The hope was that the CB3P would develop into a fundraiser for a local non-profit. This year Simpson was able to hit that goal as she had enough competitors to hand over some money to the Mountain Roots Food Project. She looks forward to picking a new local non-profit each year as the CB3P beneficiary.
While it was the fourth overall win in a row for Team Green, Wynne feels it may be their last.
“We might be breaking up. It could come out on Twitter feed,” says Wynne. “If therapy doesn’t work, you may see three more solo racers next year.”