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Marathon madness

Matt Zalaznick

But the racer from Squaw Valley admitted the sprawling, 893-gate course for Pete Seibert’s Mad Mountain Marathon took something out of him.”It’s so long, you can’t try too hard or you’ll get tired pretty quick,” Sullivan said after a run down the course that started at the top of Lionshead, twisted down the Simba run and ended just above the skier bridge that leads to the gondola.OK, so maybe it didn’t have 893 gates, but skiers and snowboarders had to make tons of turns to make it down.”It’s painful,” said Chris Klug, the Vail-born snowboarder and Aspen resident who won a bronze medal in the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics. “The gates were painful, too.”Though Klug was not wearing costume like a few of the racers, he had some insight into what type of costume might be most effective in a mountain marathon.”I think a gorilla suit would be more appropriate,” he said.But enough of the ski celebrities. The Mad Mountain Marathon was meant for skiers and snowboarders who aren’t sponsored and who don’t compete on any international circuits, World Cup or otherwise.”Evidently I haven’t worked on skiing this many gates in a long time,” said U.S. Ski Team legend and go-kart racer Steve Mahre.Hey! We said the rest of this article was about non-former World Cup Championships and Olympic silver medalists.”The turns in go-kart racing are very simple -you push with your right foot, you go faster, you push with your left, you slow down,” Mahre added. “This is a lot more tiring,”This about the regular folks …”If get beat by 118 guys today, I’ll feel really good,” Mahre added.Regular folks!!!!”I’m 59. I’m no spring chicken,” said East Vail skier Mike Matthias. “I’m concentrating on what I’ve got to do today – stop and start and not fall and do a decent time.”If I pace myself,” he added, “I do alright.”Matthias also was not wearing a costume.”I would feel awkward in a purple dinosaur outfit,” he said to a reporter whom he asked to take his picture. “I’m trying to be Cary Grant.”Even those not used to racing did not stay up all night worrying about the mountain marathon.”Last night, we were more focused on the Coors Lights,” said Denver skier Bill Sutphen.And beer seemed to be one of the Mountain Marathon’s great motivators.”We’ve been training for the party this afternoon,” said Kris Murphy, a snowboarder from Longmont who said she and her husband Keith didn’t have time to find a costume for the race.”An alligator outfit would help soften the blow when you fall, but the tail might get in the way,” Murphy said.By the way, the after-party was held at the Kaltenberg. Vail skier Roy Pinch, who said he was looking forward to the party, was one of the few who dressed up – in a garish Hawaiian shirt and purple-striped pants.”This is my BB&B outfit that I didn’t get to wear this year,” Pinch said referring to the wild on-mountain party that was shut down by the U.S. Forest Service this year.So, Roy, how much stock did you put into your performance Saturday?”I’ll let you know when I see my time,” Pinch said.Edwards snowboarders Paul Marso and his wife Nicky said they felt a little out of place.”We don’t even have racing gear,” Paul Marso said. “We feel very novice compared to some of the rest of the people. Some of them are in full Lyrca suits and are bent on beating everyone to the bottom.”Skier Terry Patten, who came all the way from Marble, Colo., was one of those who wore a speed suit.”I need all the help I can get. I’m a slow old fart,” said Patten, adding he wasn’t putting a lot of his self-esteem on the line in the Mad Mountain Marathon.”This is the kind of thing you show up for to remind you why the ski season’s over,” Patten said.The Mad Mountain Marathon may have been an end of season blow out of sorts, but it was not a wacky as some of its predecessors, such as the now defunct Great Race.”Each year, it gets a little quieter,” Patten said. “If you wanted to see looney, you had to be here 20 years ago.”Matt Zalaznick can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 606, or via e-mail at mzalaznick@vaildaily.com.


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