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Racers gearing up for Summer Grand Traverse

Triple Crown titles, and cash, on the line

by Than Acuff

The Gore-Tex Grand Traverse winter race has exploded over its 20-year existence, with servers pinned with online traffic as teams scramble to sign up the day registration opens.

That energy appears to be spilling over into the summer version, the Adidas Terrex Grand Traverse Mountain Run & Bike, as the field of racers continues to grow in both numbers and ability.

In just its fourth year, registration has grown three-fold with more than 220 runners and more than 120 bikers signed up for this year’s event on Saturday and Sunday, September 2-3.

And there’s still room in either or both events as registration will remain open until 6 p.m. the evening prior to each event, with last-minute runners able to sign up until 6 p.m. Friday and last-minute bikers able to jump in until 6 p.m. Saturday.

But that’s not the biggest news. The past two years, race director Andrew Arell recognized the competitors who raced in the Triple Crown, which includes the winter race, the run to Aspen and the bike back from Aspen.

This year, that recognition has turned into some cold hard cash as the Tourism Association kicked down $5,000 in prize money for the top three men and women finishers in the Triple Crown this year, with the first male and female finishers taking home $1,500 each, second place getting $700 each and third place getting $300 each. As a result, that group has increased as well.

“The pool of contenders is growing and we just had three more jump in this week,” says race director Andrew Arell. “We went really big and it has sparked some excitement.”

As of press time there are at least five men in the hunt for the Triple Crown title with one woman bringing a sizeable gap into the final two events, but it’s a long way to Aspen and back and anything can happen.

Furthermore, anyone who finishes the Triple Crown will walk away with a handmade belt buckle compliments of Paradise Ski Chairs and Idea Launch Lab, engraved with the Triple Crown logo.

For those of you that may have missed the winter race, there are plenty of prizes, and some cash, for the individual run event, the individual bike event, and the dual sport—those who run to Aspen on Saturday and then bike back to Crested Butte on Sunday.

A $100 cash prize will go to the Kings and Queens of the Mountain both days. The first man and woman to reach Star Pass running get $100 and the first man and woman biking to reach the top of Ajax Mountain get $100 cash. Dual sport podium finishers will get a medal and plenty of prizes, including Adidas Terrex products.

The runners take off Saturday at 6 a.m. from in front of the post office in downtown Crested Butte and head up Tony’s Trail to the Upper Upper Loop and out Brush Creek with a slight diversion onto the Canal Trail.

“We want to give them that nice bit of singletrack,” says Arell.

From there they continue up into the hills, over Star Pass, over Taylor Pass, along Richmond Ridge and drop down Ajax Mountain finishing at Ajax Park in downtown Aspen. Last year’s winner, Dustin Simoens, finished in a time of six hours and a minute.

“It’s the same course as last year with a nice leg-burning descent into Aspen,” says Arell.

Sunday morning the bikers, dual sport racers and Triple Crowners will then head back up Ajax Mountain starting at 7 a.m. and follow the route in reverse, more or less, but staying on Upper Upper Loop to wrap around to the base of Crested Butte Mountain finishing at the base of the Silver Queen lift. Last year’s winner, Brian Smith, came rolling through the finish line with a time of four hours and 36 minutes.

For more course information or to get in on the “fun,” go to thegrandtraverse.org.

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