37th Annual Alley Loop Nordic Marathon this Saturday


Heckle Deck, collegiate racers, American Birkebeiner qualifier and fat biking

[  by Than Acuff  ]

Wax your skis, move your cars, do whatever you need to do because the 37th Annual Alley Loop Nordic Marathon presented by Fischer skis, Crested Butte Nordic and Coldwell Banker Mountain Properties is taking over on Saturday, February 4.

I’m pretty sure there’s no event that mixes athleticism and partying quite like the Alley Loop Nordic Marathon. The event has something for everyone from a 42-kilometer distance that is an American Birkebeiner qualifier all the way down to a one-kilometer race that’s fun for everyone from age three to age 83.

The course incorporates a couple of the alleys, per the name, in town before taking skiers just outside of town to enjoy the incredible scenery and phenomenal track laid out by the Crested Butte Nordic cat crew.

And now, fat biking is making a triumphant return to the slate of events offered. After joining in on the Alley Loop fun 2013-2015, fat biking took a break, but the Crested Butte Mountain Bike Association (CBMBA) and Crested Butte Nordic are joining forces again this year for the Alley Loop Fat Bike race presented by CBMBA and the Eldo. The race is open to solo riders or teams of two or four riders and opens the weekend on Friday, February 3.

“It’s super cool to have a down home backyard fat bike race again, alongside the Nordic Center and the town of Crested Butte,” says CBMBA director Dave Ochs. “We are really grateful to partner with the Nordic Center again on this race. It’s very cool to ride fat bikes in a unique place, and it’s always fun to ride bikes and have a party on Elk Avenue. You’ll wind up going home with more than you put in.”

Ochs wants to make sure all fat bikers know that they may not pre-ride the course; the course is only open to bikers for the race. For info and to register for the Alley Loop Fat Bike race go to cbmba.org.

But that’s just the opening band as the headliner takes center stage in downtown Crested Butte starting bright and early on Saturday. And it’s a pretty big band as Crested Butte Nordic has 783 skiers registered as of Tuesday.

“We had 400 registered this time last year,” says Crested Butte Nordic events director Becky Nation. “I’m expecting to have over 1,000 by Friday.”

Thanks to a grant from the Tourism and Prosperity Partnership (TAPP) there is $14,700 in cash prizes to be doled out in the 42-kilometer classic and skate races, the 21-kilometer classic and skate races as well as to top five Club Clash finishers. Club Clash is a team event where teams have racers in six of the events, each team must have at least two women racing, with lowest combined times determining results.

And while people are out there on skis sweating, huffing and puffing, or just shuffling nice and easy, they can expect to be harangued by folks up on the Eldo “Heckle Deck” starting at 10 a.m.

Nation has also secured the Mallardi Theater for folks to stay warm prior to their race and change after their race this year.

This is literally just the tip of the Alley Loop iceberg so for all information and/or to register go to cbnordic.org. And, as always, volunteers are needed. All volunteers will get either a free entry into the race or a trail pass to use the remainder of the season. To help, email Shay at shay@cbnordic.org.

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