Summer GT is a go, with changes
by Than Acuff
Just like the pandemic surging through certain states in the United States and in certain countries around the globe, Timmy Parr continued his attack on the local trails as he doubled down this year to tie with Cam Smith in the 15-kilometer classic race and win the 25-kilometer race in the 2020 Grin and Bear It, presented by CB Nordic.
Crested Butte Nordic’s own Laura Puckett Daniels took the women’s title in the classic 15-kilometer race, while Sarah Carter won the 25-kilometer loop.
Crested Butte Nordic had big plans for this year’s race. For the past 35 years the Grin and Bear It has always been an out-and-back race from town to Green Lake and back via the Green Lake Trail. Over the past year, Crested Butte Nordic worked to gain the proper permission from stakeholders and added a new course to the mix, giving runners the option of doing the 15-kilometer classic course or a 25-kilometer loop via Baxter’s Gulch, along the Carbon Creek Trail and then down the Green Lake Trail to town.
“Once the Baxter’s trail was completed it just made sense to offer a more substantial trail run option,” says Crested Butte Nordic director of events Andrew Arell.
While the stage was set for one of the best Grin and Bear Its of all time, a certain virus reared its ugly head, pumping the brakes on the enthusiasm for the revamped Grin and Bear It.
Crested Butte Nordic switched gears and like a lot of races this year, opted to go virtual. They gave runners the month of July to post their fastest time on either course, or both, and in the end 44 runners accepted the challenge.
While Parr’s time of 1:59:16 on the 25-kilometer loop proved untouchable, Smith and Parr ended up in a battle for 15-kilometer supremacy. Parr threw down first posting a time of 1:07:25 on July 7. He sat on top of the leaderboard for most of the month until Smith ran the course on July 24 in a time of 1:04:56. Six days later Parr struck back to retake the lead with a new course record time of 1:03:16, beating his previous course record from 2005.
Then, on the final day of competition, Smith gave it one last go and ran it in a time of 1:03:12. Closer inspection of how each runner and their recording devices may have recorded their times showed the potential for a discrepancy, so race organizers, Parr and Smith all came to a mutual agreement.
“We just agreed to call it a virtual tie,” says Arell.
The Grin and Bear It is a fundraiser for the Crested Butte Nordic junior race team and while participation was down significantly from past years, the event exceeded fundraising expectations.
“We actually raised more money than in the past so in that respect it worked out great,” says Arell.
Crested Butte Nordic now has their sights set on the North Face Grand Traverse Mountain Run and Bike Saturday and Sunday, September 5-6. Fortunately, after many proposals and race alterations, the event has been given the green light in Gunnison County. Pitkin County, where the run finishes and the mountain bike race starts, is a different story though, as they still limit event sizes to 50 people.
As a result, Crested Butte Nordic has created a course for both the run and bike that starts in Crested Butte and finishes in Mt. Crested Butte and remains entirely in Gunnison County. The runners will go in one direction the first day and the mountain bikers will do the same loop but in the other direction.
“The races are a go and it’s a great course with even more singletrack,” says Arell.
In fact, the new course tacks on three additional miles and the running course has 2,000 more vertical gain feet than the usual route from Crested Butte to Aspen.
“Hopefully the runners are trained up,” says Arell.
In addition to the new course, there will be a new start format, with waves of 10 athletes starting at staggered times. Crested Butte Nordic is asking athletes to submit their expected times for the races and will then place them in certain start groups accordingly.
“We’re going to try to organize it to allow the fastest participants to go out first,” says Arell. “I think it’s going to be great.”
Both races are reaching close to capacity with the cap at 350 for runners and 150 for bikers. Check out thegrandtraverse.org for more information or to register.