A-Basin race truly a ‘Grind’ | VailDaily.com

A-Basin race truly a ‘Grind’

Bryce Evans
Summit County correspondent
Vail, CO Colorado
Summit Daily/Mark FoxCompetitors in the recreational division take off in a LeMan's style start as they run to their skis while participating in the eighth annual Marmot Grind at Arapahoe Basin Saturday. Racers in the recreational division covered the 2,000' vertical foot climb, while the race division covered a 4,500' vertical climb.

The recent snowfall may have forced race organizers to push back the start time and even alter the course a bit, but nothing could stop the 88 racers at Arapahoe Basin from completing the Marmot Grind on Saturday.

Well, that is except the grueling course.

In all, only four competitors failed to finish the eighth annual adventure ski race, which covers 4,500 vertical feet in the “race” category of the competition.

“Getting everything ready was a bit tricky with all the snow we got (Friday) night,” said Leigh Hierholzer, director of marketing and communications at The Legend. “But then the sun came out, and it was great.”

The event is pegged as an adventure race to help “introduce new participants to backcountry skiing as well as challenge the veteran skier(s).”

Racers start the day with a LeMan’s style spring to their skis, then start skinning up the mountain.

With two divisions – race and recreational – there were two separate courses.

The rec course consisted of one large hike followed by the downhill ride back to the base, covering 2,000 vertical feet.

Because of the fresh snow, the race course was altered a bit, but still consisted of a number of climbs for competitors, including two treks up the Montezuma Bowl.

In each of the two categories, there were different divisions for men, women, telemark skiers, alpine touring skiers and snowboarders. There was also a 50-plus division.

Bryan Wickenhauser, 37, was the swiftest skier of the day in the race category, finishing the course in 1 hour, 58 minutes and 2 seconds. He was also the alpine touring men’s division winner.

Max Taam, also using alpine touring skis, was second overall in the race, just 53 seconds behind Wickenhauser.

Janelle Smiley was the first female competitor to finish the race course, coming in 11th overall with a time of 2:24:59.

Jason McGowin was the winner on the rec course, finishing in 43 minutes and 29 seconds.

Jan Mueller was the top female finisher in that division.

Bryce Evans can be reached at (970) 668-4634 or at bevans@summitdaily.com.

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