Judging by the recent weather in Colorado (another few inches on the ground this am), winter is still in effect, but I’m happy to say my randonee racing season is now over – and it ended on a high note. On a cold and snowy last day of April, I lined up for the final COSMIC race of the season – the Arapahoe Basin Marmot Grind. I felt a little sluggish on my warm-up, which I haven’t decided was because I had raced four weeks in a row, or because the race topped out at over 10,000 feet. Probably both.
With early reports of temps barely above 1 degree, and 30mph winds on the top of A-Basin, I opted for my ‘baggie’ gear. My skin suit does not have any wind protection so I threw on my Patagonia Knifeblade jacket made from Polartec PowerShield Pro and stretch woven pants, knowing I would be much more protected and happier.
As we started up the first climb, I felt the normal burn of skimo racing. I pulled my skins and started down the first descent when I caught up to Bryan Wickenhauser. Wick’s race was done almost as fast as it had started because of a broken buckle. I was thankful for how well my La Sportiva Stratos boots have held up all season.
With the next woman, Stevie Kremer, just a minute or so behind, I continued to push myself up the next climb and down into Montezuma Bowl. It appeared that I had opened up a bit of a gap towards the top of the final climb, so I slowed a little to cover my face from the winds. I looked back as I dropped into the final descent, I saw Stevie just behind and realized I better keep moving.
I crossed the line as the first woman feeling relieved to be done racing for a few weeks. Had it not been for the $500 cash prize, I’m not sure I had enough motivation to continue pushing the pace for the almost two hours of racing. My teammate Max Taam pulled off the win for the men with Mike Kloser in second and Marshall Thompson in third.
I want to thank La Sportiva for their super light boots and skis and support for the season. And none of this would have happened it if weren’t for all the work of Pete Swenson, COSMIC organizer and the man responsible for getting most of us involved with skimo racing.
As it continues to snow into May, I think I have hung up my skis until the fall but I know many of you will continue to bag peaks and enjoy some amazing spring skiing. Either way, make sure to get out and enjoy something in the mountains and sun.