Monday, August 3, 2020

Locals throw down at summer Grand Traverse weekend

Dustin Simoens sets course record, Billy Laird wins Triple Crown

by Than Acuff

Despite the occasional rainstorm and cold temperatures, throngs of endurance athletes lined up Saturday and Sunday mornings for the third annual Icebreaker Grand Traverse Mountain Run and Bike presented by Adidas. In the end, local athletes threw down, taking six of eight titles up for grabs.

Gunnison resident Dustin Simoens set the tone on Saturday morning, September 3 as 130 runners lined up in downtown Crested Butte for the start of the mountain run to Aspen.

Simoens is no stranger to long runs and flashed the 40-mile course this year in a record time of six hours and one minute. Meanwhile, Almont resident Kylie Collins edged out the win to take the women’s title, completing the course in a time of seven hours and 36 minutes, just four minutes ahead of second place.

In addition to cash being awarded to the top three men and women, compliments of the Gunnison/Crested Butte Tourism Association, additional money went to the King and Queen of the Mountain. Simoens took home an additional $250 for being the first man to Star Pass, while Taylor Nowlin took home $250 for being the first woman to reach Star Pass.

More than 100 mountain bikers, including Olympian Howard Grotts, lined up Sunday morning, September 4 to make the trip from the base of Aspen Mountain to the base of Crested Butte Mountain Resort and faced near-hypothermic conditions up high. Griggs Orthopedics athlete Brian Smith has some winter Grand Traverse titles to his name but admitted the summer version this year was just as brutal.

“I was colder up there than I have ever been in the winter race,” said Smith following the race. “I was shifting with the palm of my hand. I just could not get warm.”

While several riders took refuge in the tent at Taylor Pass to get warm, Smith played through to take the men’s bike title as well as the King of the Mountain title, edging out Grotts at the top of Aspen Mountain.

Meanwhile in the women’s race, last year’s winner Amy Beisel was the first to the top of Aspen Mountain to take the Queen of the Mountain title but succumbed to the freezing temperatures and had to seek warmth on Taylor Pass. Jenny Smith used the opportunity to take over the lead and held on for the women’s mountain bike title.

And then there were the dual sport athletes—individuals who ran from Crested Butte to Aspen the first day and then rode back from Aspen to Crested Butte the next day.

Billy Laird was seven minutes back after the first day but made up that time and more on his mountain bike to take the men’s dual sport title. Jen Segger of Canada put together two strong days on foot and in the saddle to take the women’s dual sport title.

And, last but not least, the two 2016 Triple Crown champions were determined, going to the man and woman who had the lowest combined times from the winter ski, mountain run and mountain bike races. Billy Laird walked with another title while Kelly Ryan out of Ridgway won the women’s Triple Crown title.

Race organizers will up the ante for the 2017 Triple Crown. Pre-registration for the 2017 Triple Crown will open in October and the first 50 to sign up will have a guaranteed spot in the winter race as well. Furthermore, the $5,000 in prize money kicked down for runners and mountain bikers this year will be moved over to the Triple Crown podium next year.

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