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Annual Grin and Bear It run this Saturday

Run up, run down, eat and drink

by Than Acuff

It was 1992, early September I believe, and a bunch of men and women were standing around on Elk Avenue in tiny shorts drinking Steinlagers at 10 a.m. I, being a fan of beer, thought I would help myself to a Steinlager, when I was informed that the beer was for participants and volunteers of the Grin and Bear It running race.

It really doesn’t get much better than that. Run up to a beautiful lake, run back down and then drink beer, except for the running part.

Nevertheless, Crested Butte Nordic is celebrating the 35th year of the Grin and Bear It this Saturday, July 14 and with the recent surge in trail running fanaticism, the race has grown in popularity and is now the opening event of the Eddyline Brewing Trail Series. As a result, Eddyline beers, not Steinlagers, will be handed out at the finish line, along with French toast.

“We usually get around 100 folks each year but it has been creeping up,” says Crested Butte Nordic events director Andrew Arell.

The course is a grueling 9.3 miles from the town of Crested Butte to Green Lake and back, with 1,700 vertical feet of elevation gain and loss. Participants will start at the Crested Butte Nordic Center and climb up to Journey’s End Road on the Bench, where they will then turn onto the Green Lake Trail. The 4.5-mile trail winds its way up and over Gibson’s Ridge, across Trapper’s Road, ending at Green Lake. Runners then return on the same route, finishing at the Nordic Center.

“It’s pretty fun but it’s still an ass-kicker,” says Arell.

According to Arell, with the creation of the Baxter’s Gulch trail, this may be the last year the Grin and Bear It will be on the original course, since he may be expanding the course next year into a loop to include the Green Lake trail and Baxter’s Gulch.

“This may be the last time to run it in its historic fashion,” says Arell.

This also may be the last time for the mid-race Green Lake plunge, too. Arell will have a buoy with a medal attached to it out in Green Lake at the turnaround point. Be the first to jump in, swim out to the buoy, grab the medal and bring it back to the finish line and pick up an award. There will also be awards for top three men and women, as well as a host of raffle prizes.

As for the winning times, nine-time winner Tim Parr currently has the course record of 1:04:23, which he set back in 2005. Ethan Linck won it last year in a time of 1:13:17.5, with Keri Nelson taking the women’s title with a time of 1:22:04.6.

Information and registration can all be found at cbnordic.org.

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