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Gothic Mountain Tour this Saturday

$2,000 in cash and an awkward load up for grabs

by Than Acuff

The 13th Annual Gothic Mountain Tour race is this Saturday, February 23 and with the cap set at 150 racers, time is running out to toe the line for a fantastic tour of the Crested Butte high country.

“Registration is on par,” says Crested Butte Nordic events director Andrew Arell. “We’ve got 110 so far and we want to hit the 150 goal.”

This year the race has been broken up into two races, with the standard longer race option or a shorter rec class option. The race class course starts in town behind the community school at 6 a.m. before heading out on a 23-mile tour of the high country with 5,130 feet of climbing, linking three valleys together and ending by crossing the new Gunsight Bridge and cruising in on Mike’s Mile to the finish line at the Magic Meadows Yurt.

The rec class course starts at the Snodgrass trailhead at 7:45 a.m. and links onto the race class course there, linking the three valleys together as well for a total of 17.85 miles and 2,379 feet of climbing, with the same finish.

“The rec course has all of the benefits of the race course of getting into the high alpine but without the suffering,” says Arell.

“It still has all of the good stuff,” adds Crested Butte Nordic executive director Christie Hicks.

In an effort to ensure a safe and fun experience, the Crested Butte Avalanche Center will be out on course during the week leading up to the race, as well as on course the day of the race.

“They’re getting out on the course three times this week and we’re getting some preliminary information to assess conditions and what hazards exist,” says Arell.

If things shape up as hoped, the race should be a go on Saturday. If, for some reason, avalanche conditions are such that the race cannot proceed in a safe manner, organizers will cancel it and all registration fees will be refunded.

Due to the shallow snowpack last year, Arell was forced to nix a portion of the race up Snodgrass and down to the road to the town of Gothic. This year, if avalanche conditions permit, the Snodgrass portion will be back in the mix.

“We’re hoping to go back up Snodgrass again this year,” says Arell.

Thanks to the support of the Tourism and Prosperity Partnership (TAPP), formerly known as the Tourism Association, $2,000 in cash will be awarded to the top three men and top three women in the race class, with $500 going to the winner, $300 to second place and $200 to third place.

Furthermore, the time-honored tradition of the “awkward load” will be up for grabs. The first man and woman who agrees to carry the “awkward load” from the highest point of the course at the Top of the World all the way to the finish line at the Magic Meadows Yurt will take home $100 in cash as well.

In the past the “awkward load” has been anything from $100 in pennies to an inflatable toy and even a dozen eggs.

Finally, once you are near the end of the race, participants get one more chance at glory as a “booter” will be constructed for racers to hit as they come into the finish line.

Registration is available online until Friday evening, February 22. Racer bib pick up will be at the Nordic Center from 5 to 7 p.m. on Friday as well. Racers are strongly encouraged to make it to the bib pick-up. If not, bibs will be distributed just prior to the race Saturday morning.

Complete course information, time cutoffs and race registration is available at cbnordic.org and all proceeds from the Gothic Mountain Tour will be split between Crested Butte Nordic and the Crested Butte Avalanche Center.

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