The 35th Annual Snow Mountain Stampede is one of the highest Nordic Marathons in the country and the only opportunity for Nordic racers to ski 50K of skate style one day and 50k of Classic the next. Most people think a marathon is more than enough but can you imagine skiing back to back marathons? Snow Mountain Ranch has a great title for this incredible accomplishment – Ranch Boss – and each finisher of both 50K races received a beautiful 100K belt buckle. Those who finished both 25k races – Ranch Hand – got a 50K belt buckle.
In the extreme snow conditions we had leading up the weekend, skiing a 50K Skate race on Saturday was a huge undertaking. Snow storms almost every day dumped feet of fresh powder right up until midnight Friday night. Racers expected a soft slow course but staff at Snow Mtn Ranch groomed the 25K loop over and over packing it in. It was Shawn Otterson, SMR groomer extraordinaire, who stayed out all night looping the course at least three or four more times that really made the difference. The perfect snow base, the mid-20’s temps, and partly cloudy skies with little wind made for an incredible day that made you feel lucky to be alive and in such a beautiful place. Snow conditions, temperatures, and partly sunny skies repeated for Sunday’s Classic events much to the delight of both racers and onlookers. Regardless, racers who did both races, both days really earned their buckles…
Saturday the weather was relatively warm and the sky a bit overcast for the free 2K Kids loop in front of the Nordic Center. Then in the Valley below, the 50K racers started down in the Pole Creek Valley, looping up Heckman, across Swenson, charging up Gaskill, looping Upper Young to Eagle Valley and screaming down Blue Ridge. The course looped back to the side of the Nordic Center and back out to circle Keenan, Cranmer and Lynch before lapping in front of the Nordic Center and then doing it over again. The 25K was one loop and 50 K was two loops. The 10K stayed more in the valley itself. With the new snow despite the heroic packing efforts, it was still tough conditions and relatively slow going.
Charlie worked with the announcers spotting racer numbers and helping to identify racers as they lapped at the aid station near the Nordic Center while several volunteers and I encouraged racers at the major intersections of Blue Ridge and Tabernash or Ute. A few kind, encouraging words can go a long way to help a racer feel less tired.
Next day dawned cold and crisp for the Classic races starting again with the free kids 2K race. Head groomer Shawn had been out again much of the night packing in the new snow and creating the best classic tracks many of the racers had ever seen. The sun was out, the wind was almost still, and the tracks held up well. A perfect day for Classic racing! Times were good and racers were feeling great! I think all the racers even remembered the time change.
The wonderful conditions made an epic weekend than many will never forget – especially the handful of people who skied both days, both races for a total of 50K or 100K. Sure gives me a new appreciation for the term Ironman.
Locals did well and the kids stole the show – Adrien Brower won both the Freestyle and Classic Kids 2K races and took home both award stuffed Bears. Even a three year-old finished the Classic event and was cheered on by the crowd! Erik Lynch walked away with the 10K Freestyle in 35.09 with locals Will Cleveland and Guy Granger IV from Granby not far behind. First for the women was Sylvia Brower from EGMS at 50.45 with Sierra Jameson only a few places behind. Tyler Scholl blew away the competition in the 25K Freestyle crossing the line in 1:24:20 with MPHS assistant coach Dave Cleveland coming in at 1:40:22. First woman was Lillian Marcione finishing in 1:41:41 with locals Marie Ange Anderson, Cyrille Duperret, Vince Call, and Astrid Lampey finishing father back in the pack. The 50K men’s race was won by Daniel Weinberger in 2:49:04 with first woman Ellie Hands crossing the line in 3:18:35. Nancy Citriglia, Dave Boelter, and JP Lande finished farther back in the pack.
In Sunday’s 10K Classic, Guy Granger IV took the Men’s division in 45.06. Lydia Tanner led the women finishing in 51:37 while Marie Ange Anderson was third. Tyler Scholl from MPHS again took the 25K with Sebastian Brower in third place while Erin Quinn-Hurst Hood Way finished first for the women in 1:47:45 with locals Vince Call and Astrid Lampey finishing their ranch Hand buckle. Way out in front for the 50K, Dan Weinberger from Boulder finished in a good 3:09:47 wit first woman Molly Hummel over the line in 3:59:28. Most 50K finisher were earning their Ranch Boss buckle.
Congratulations to all finishers and thanks to all volunteers! I hope I haven’t forgotten any locals – if so please forgive me. These races would not have been possible with the dedication of Bill Pierce and his crew at Snow Mtn Ranch with a special shout out to Anne Ellefson, race organizer. The course was extremely well marked this year and easy to follow. It takes a team of both staff and volunteers many hours of coordination and planning to make it all work and help from Mother Nature as well. Great job to all of you!!! A very worthwhile event!