The 24th Grand Traverse race ended in success for Montane athletes despite unseasonably warm temperatures and adverse weather conditions for competitors.
Spanning 40 miles of high alpine, backcountry terrain, the recently renamed Montane Grand Traverse kicked off in April with the ski leg of the series. The ski mountaineering race, in addition to a mountain run and a bike race, form a tri-race series: the much-coveted Grand Traverse Triple Crown, which sees athletes take on a series of point-to-point endurance challenges from Crested Butte to Aspen, Colorado, in events across the year. The tri-race can be completed as individual events or as part of the wider Triple Crown series.
Unseasonably mild conditions prompted safety concerns for the participants, but after checks from the ground team and a thorough safety briefing, the 191 participants began the race at midnight local time on April 2, 2022.
Taking on the snow-clad course from its base in Crested Butte through to Aspen, competitors ran into some difficulty as the weather turned, bringing a snowstorm with it, a first in the race’s recent history.
At over 6,800 feet, participants crossed the Elk Mountain range and despite the knowledge and experience of the competitors on the route, of the 191 that entered the race, 50 were unable to finish.
Success was found by Crested Butte’s Cam Smith and Aspen’s John Gaston, arriving in Aspen in first place with a time of 6:13:15. Due to other European ski racing commitments, Cam Smith was not part of the original enrolment for this year’s race, however, after winning The Grand Traverse Triple Crown two years ago, the pull of the challenge was too great.
In the women’s division, Montane athlete Alyssa Wendt and her partner Fanny Toorenburg claimed second place with a time of 10:07:24.5 while pledging to complete the Grand Traverse Triple Crown event in September.
Alyssa Wendt, said: “Half the fun in racing is the unexpected you’ll meet out on course and this year’s Grand Traverse brought a mixed bag of adventure from mud, to whiteouts, while also managing various gear issues. I’m proud of how Fanny and I navigated each hiccup and supported each other in our lowest moments. It was special sharing the podium with a friend and athlete that I’ve looked up to for years. Now, it’s time for some recovery, then I’ll shift gears (literally) into biking and running in prep for the grand traverse bike and run races later this fall.”
Montane’s global marketing manager, Matthew Hickman, said: “The Grand Traverse Race truly is the ultimate point-to-point competition, putting competitors through their paces and forcing athletes to push to the edge of their limit. This is what makes it such an exciting race to sponsor and is something that fits perfectly with our ‘Made for More’ message - it is a perfect example of athletes striving forward, digging deep to achieve more, and breaking boundaries. At Montane we create clothing and equipment that provides ample protection and comfort for athletes, while also allowing them to be ready, to move, and to go the distance, safe in the knowledge that their kit is driving them on, and that is exactly what we have seen in The Grand Traverse.”
In 2015, The Grand Traverse expanded its race offering to include a mountain run and a biking race. The three events now form a tri-race series, creating the aforementioned ‘Grand Traverse Triple Crown’, Colorado’s preeminent multi-sport, multi-season endurance challenge, of which Montane is the headline sponsor for each.
More information on The Grand Traverse can be found over on the Montane site: https://montane.com/pages/grand-traverse.