Mike and Jay did it again! In some very gnarly conditions, Mike Kloser and Jay Henry pulled off another victory at the 12th Annual Elk Mountain Grand Traverse. This was a record fifth win for Kloser and the second victory in as many years for Henry.
Although the area had received a bunch of new snow all week, the snowpack stayed stable enough for the racers to make the complete trip from Crested Butte to Aspen. Despite the weather appearing perfect at our house, the conditions out on the course were apparently less than ideal. Kloser reported that it was frigid cold with near whiteout conditions causing the teams out front to break trail and route find the entire race.
The nasty weather also caused many teams to make the tough decision of whether to continue and freeze or turn around to keep all fingers and toes intact. Every year the Grand Traverse throws everything its got at the racers whether it is knee deep creek crossings, hypothermia, frostbite, or high winds. This year was no different.
My teammate from last year, Billy Mattison, raced with retired adventure racer and all around tough guy, Andre Boesel. Arriving in Aspen with a time of 10hrs 28min 30sec, Billy and Andre place second in the 46+ division. Nice job you guys! Arriving not too far behind Billy and Andre was my rival and buddy, Brian Edmiston. Brian and his teammate Mark have raced together at least three or 4 years and have decided this was their last despite having finished every time.
The tough conditions unfortunately turned many teams around and prevented others from making it to the finish line. Two of Ian’s co-workers raced in their first EMGT this year and didn’t finish quite where they had hoped to. JLD (sometimes known as John DiCuollo) and Steve Lavelle trained hard every weekend and most days during the week only to get turned back to Crested Butte to prevent frostbite and hypothermia. Jessica Smith and Ashley Carruth made it all the way to the Friends Hut completely dehydrated due to frozen water. Jess had to make one of the hardest decisions she has made in long time and opt for a snowmobile ride out for the last seven miles. Ashley was able to complete the course as an unranked racer and meet her teammate in Aspen.
The Elk Mountain Grand Traverse is an amazing race and one of the most difficult races I have ever participated in. Mike and Jay make it look easy but the rest of us know how much suffering is really involved. Congrats to everyone that even attempted this race – you should all be very proud.
Check out the results here.
More friends that raced:
Ethan Passant & Travis Scheefer – 2nd Place
Bryan Wickenhauser & Eric Sullivan – 4th Place
Dave Wiens & Jason Stubbe – 5th Place
Jon Brown & Brian Smith – 7th Place
Max Taam & Mark Falender – 9th Place
Brad LaRochelle & Teague Holmes – 10th Place
Elliott Larson & Brian Johnson – 11th Place