Put another Grand Traverse in the books. Having had a few days to think about the whole experience, the short answer is that it was a really good race. The weather was mild, there was no wind, and the sunrise was amazing. We got ourselves on the podium as the 3rd place in the co-ed category, Christy was the 3rd female overall to cross the finish line, and our time of 10 hours and 15 minutes was our fastest in five years of trying as a team.
So it was all good. But as I wrote in a prior post (read here), this race, unlike almost any other we’ve done, is almost never a routine outing. And this year was no different.
Sticking with the theme of this season, the thin snowpack, warm spring, and super-dry March resulted in a good section of the course being without snow. In addition to the dry conditions, private landowners in the East River Valley decided to deny the race the usual permission granted to cross their property this year.
Long-story-short, since there was no snow in town the start was moved to the ski area, and a re-route was devised around the private property that involved traversing a dry, trail-less sidehill for about three miles. From there, we connected with the usual race route, up Brush Creek, which was also snow-free for a while. It was an estimated 7-8 miles of travel on foot with skis on our backs before we actually got back to the “ski” part of this ski race.
Once the race got back to a more “business as usual” feel, some more common issues reared their heads. Our skinny skins weren’t working well on the frozen snow, we passed up a water refill at Friends Hut only to learn soon after we needed it, and Christy’s stomach started giving her grief and she wasn’t really able to eat. We knew she was the 2nd place female through most of the night so we did our best to hang onto silver but right near the Sundeck, Chris Miller and Eszter Horanyi came cruising by to put us in 3rd. Oh well. I guess that’s just how it goes sometimes.
There were definitely some lessons learned. It was the first time in 11 finishes we did this race on the lightweight AT gear, we made some incorrect decisions with regard to pulling skins or leaving them on along Richmond Ridge. We opted to cover the dry trail in our ski boots as opposed to many who decided to change to running shoes, and I think that was the right call. But we chose to switch from hiking to skinning too early on Brush Creek Road which cost us some time and myself a lot of mental frustration.
Add it all up and it was a good time. We’re already talking about how to get sub-10 hours next year. Here are a few more pics we came home with.