Vail Mountain uphill race and hike is Sunday |

Vail Mountain uphill race and hike is Sunday

Daily staff report

VAIL — The 10th annual Vail Mountain Winter Uphill Race and Hike returns Sunday, as skiers, snowboarders and winter runners tackle 2,200 vertical feet of groomed trails to reach Eagle’s Nest at the top of the Eagle Bahn Gondola in Lionshead Village.

This event is ideal for competitors and non-competitors featuring categories for each, and honors the memory of Vail local Lyndon Ellefson, who was instrumental in starting the U.S. men’s mountain running program. Some of the race and hike entry fees will support the U.S. Mountain Running Team.

An Event for Everyone

For the past 10 years, the Vail Mountain Uphill has proven to be a challenging midwinter competition for some, and a fun, non-competitive community hike for others. It presents an opportunity to support a worthy organization, while also paying tribute to Ellefson, a trailblazer in the sport of mountain running, who lost his life in a 1998 accident near the Matterhorn while training for a mountain race in Italy. Ellefson was the foreman for the Lionshead Gondola.

Ellen Miller, along with fellow mountain runner and Vail local Hooker Lowe, started the race in 2008 to spread their passion for mountain running and uphill skiing (skinning) and to pay homage to Ellefson.

“The Vail Mountain Winter Uphill is a meaningful event for our community,” Miller said. “We started it in the memory of Lyndon Ellefson and it has always been a fundraiser and a tribute to the U.S. Mountain Running Team, of which Lyndon was a pioneer. This is a fun hike up Vail Mountain for people of all ages and abilities. I am thrilled that (the Vail Recreation District) is operating the event this year.”

Miller, who coaches athletes year-round primarily through the Vail Vitality Center and also serves as the women’s team manager for the U.S. Mountain Running Team, reminds participants that this is not a snowshoe race.

“Most folks wear running shoes with stabilizers and some wear skis,” Miller said. “If it snows a lot participants might wear snowshoes, but I don’t see too many at this race unless we see a lot of snow the night prior to the race start.”

Designated Finish Lines

The event begins at 7 a.m. in the Lionshead Village base area, adjacent to the Eagle Bahn Gondola. Categories include ski, splitboard and non-ski options. Prizes will be awarded by overall place and category by gender age group, including juniors 19 and younger, 20-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59, 60-69 and 70-and-older. The finish line features separate portals for competitive and non-competitive participants and results are posted for competitive racers only.

Following the race, Vail Resorts and U.S. Foods will provide breakfast at Eagle’s Nest for all of the event participants.

Online registration is available prior to race day at Day of registration will be available in Lionshead Village prior to the race. Race entry fees are $30 through today and $40 the day of the race. Pre-race registration and bib pick-up will be available today from 3 to 6 p.m. at the Arc’teryx store in Lionshead.

Vail Grail Winter Race Series

The Vail Winter Uphill Race and Hike is the first event in the Vail Grail Winter Race Series. The Vail Grail is a new championship series consisting of three winter events — the uphill at Vail Mountain, a fat tire bike race and a snowshoe shuffle. Participants can sign up for one, two or all three races. Racers who complete all three races have a shot at winning the coveted Vail Grail, a permanent trophy that will bear the male and female division winners’ names for years to come.

Athletes wishing to participate in all three events and compete for the Vail Grail can sign up for the full series for a discount of $60.

For More information

The 2017 Vail Mountain Winter Uphill Race and Hike is presented by Summit Ford, Vail Resorts, Dynafit, Alpine Wine & Spirits, Lululemon, 808 Distillery, Weston Snowboards and Arc’teryx.

For more information on any of these races, contact the Vail Recreation District Sports Department, 970-479-2280 or