Men of SSCV master Meadowgold 10K and 5K trail run in Minturn

Saturday's trail run race was the last Vail Recreation District town series event of the summer

Former SSCV athletes Sylvan Ellefson and Josh Smith flank their old Nordic ski program director and coach Dan Weiland during the Meadowgold 10k trail race on Saturday morning. Smith won, another SSCV alumnus, Frank Reilly placed second, Weiland was third, and Ellefson finished fourth.
Abby Blumberg/Vail Recreation District

The men’s podium placers at the Meadowgold 10k trail run race Saturday in Minturn represented what Ski and Snowboard Club Vail’s Nordic ski program is all about: a lifetime love of sport — and the friendships made from them.

“I love it. That’s like the whole theory behind our culture,” said third-place finisher, Dan Weiland, the former longtime SSCV Nordic program director and current director of staff development and community outreach.

“That’s what we’ve grown and it’s so cool to have these guys back in the valley. And now they have kids. We’ve never had a second generation in the Nordic world, so now we’re just starting to see that.”

One of Weiland’s early proteges, Josh Smith, 37, continued to prove navigating a professional career, fatherhood and young children need not come at the expense of elite performance. The director of research and development at Prosono exemplified a dutiful dad’s daily training habits on Saturday, biking two of his three youngsters to and from the race — which he won by five seconds in a time of 47 minutes, 15 seconds. Smith passed the early leader on the ascent, Weiland — “I was tired of the pace; it was too slow,” Weiland joked during the friendly group cool down — and held off the late-charging runner-up Franklin Reilly (47:19) on the 1,450-foot descent.

“Each of Dan’s legs is as old as Franklin,” Smith joked, laying down the quote of the day during the generational SSCV post-race jog.

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The ageless Weiland completed every VRD trail run and most of the mountain bike events this summer.

“It was pretty fun,” the 48-year-old said. “You can literally be here all summer and race your brains out.”

Weiland (47:56) said the dual-sport approach was a perfect way to “race himself into shape” for the Emerald Epic in August. He competed alongside former SSCV athlete and Harvard skier, Hannah Hardenbergh in the two-day, mountain bike/trail run team competition. His future race plans — the Moab Trail Marathon in November and the Grand Traverse this winter — also include teaming up with various SSCV alumni.

Weiland’s example of consistent, perpetual elite fitness on the elder side of the age spectrum continues to motivate Reilly — who, fresh out of the collegiate competitive sphere, is on the opposite end.

“Seeing Dan remain very competitive is super encouraging and inspiring,” the recent Williams College graduate said.

“I look up to all these former athletes and coaches. In a very real sense, I owe a lot of my discipline and success to what they’ve instilled in me.”

Franklin Reilly charges to the finish to place second in the 10k trail race in Minturn on Saturday. His former SSCV Nordic ski coach, Dan Weiland, can be seen chasing en route to a third-place finish.
Ryan Sederquist/Vail Daily

The part-time SSCV coach was pleased to see the club’s men’s domination extend into the 5k, which was won by Peter Kan Jr., one of his athletes, in a time of 22:55.

“It’s wonderful just seeing generation after generation,” Reilly said. “It’s really nice to see people who are older than me beating me, because it means I can progress a lot in the sport, too.”

Reilly, who works remotely doing data analysis and collection for the U.S. Ski Team, said the trail race series has been a social “stepping stone” as he transitions to the “real world” from the Williams Nordic Ski team’s automatically built-in college friend group.

“I’m just trying to figure it out,” he said. “The best part of these races is the community and the culture and the people,” he said.

Town series participants come from all over. Sheila Sullivan, 57, is from Daytona Beach, Florida, but spent a full summer in the valley for the first time this year. She raced Berry Picker, the Arrowhead 5k and Saturday’s 10k.

Sheila Sullivan enjoys a morning on the trails at Saturday’s Meadowgold 10k in Minturn.
Abby Blumberg/Vail Recreation District

“Everything has been perfect,” she said of the series. “Courses are perfectly marked, it’s super organized, and the courses are beautiful. They’re really hilly! It’s not like Florida.”

Though a spring knee injury recovery prevented her participation in the early town series events, Sullivan hopes to come back next summer. “I’d love to do the whole series.”

Zach Smith, 27, grew up in Duluth, Minnesota and has been frequenting Colorado for the last five years as a seasonal wildland firefighter. Now living in the valley full-time, the trail series has helped him get back into a daily running routine.

“The last couple years I’ve been trying to do more races,” he said. “It helps me get faster. I like to do a lot of long slow runs, so my speed isn’t quite there. This kind of helps motivate me to chase people.”

A veteran of the Vail Hill Climb and the 10k at 10,000 feet in July, Miller woke up Saturday and decided his legs felt alright after a long Friday bike ride.

“I enjoyed running up higher, being up in the trees — it’s cooler up there,” he said of the 10k at 10,000 feet, his favorite race of the summer. “That one seemed to be a lot of tight singletrack, which I enjoy the most.”

As the 141 competitors departed, Weiland and a group of former athletes were eager to gather for cappuccinos at Vail Mountain Coffee for the series-ending awards ceremony.

“That’s the highlight,” he said. “Obviously, we’re competitive and we like to look at the results at the end of the day, but like, that’s not what we’re going to go talk about.”

Vail’s Deb Harrison enjoys the latter stages of the Meadowgold 5k trail race Saturday in Minturn.
Ryan Sederquist/Vail Daily

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