Grand Traverse Triple Crown

by Drew Holbrook

Success in the Grand Traverse means that you finished in one piece, even if you are a seasoned veteran. The legendary backcountry ski race starts at midnight, often in extreme weather with sub-zero temperatures, and travels nearly 40 miles over the Elk Mountains between Crested Butte and Aspen with 7,800 vertical feet of elevation gain, much of which occurs in the dark. For this reason, the race has gained its reputation as a premier North American extreme endurance event and has earned a spot on many adventure seekers’ bucket lists.

racers start the Grand Traverse at midnight.

Completing the Grand Traverse just one time is a feat for anybody, no matter who you are.  Now imagine completing it three times… in one year. With the addition of the Summer Grand Traverse Mountain Run and Bike, competitors can now do just that.

The inaugural Summer GT was held in 2014, but both mountain biking and running were on the same day eliminating the possibility of dual participation. This year, the Second Annual Summer GT will be held on September 5th and 6th with the mountain run on day one and a mountain bike on day two, giving participants the opportunity to race both events, or all three events for those who completed the Winter GT this past March. Those who complete all three events culminating in the Mountain Bike Race on September 6th will be the first ever to achieve Grand Traverse Triple Crown status.

Summer Grand Traverse Mountain Biker

Even the best will face their fair share of obstacles completing the Triple Crown. The possibilities of failure are endless. In the winter, it may be frozen hydration systems and climbing skin glue, or maybe frostbite. All three events, summer and winter, pose the risk of injury, equipment failure, or severe dehydration to name a few challenges.

Summer Grand Traverse Runner

The Mountain Run will start in Crested Butte on the morning of September 5th and travel virtually the same route as the winter: up Brush Creek, over Star Pass and Taylor Pass, then along Richmond Ridge to the top of Aspen Mountain and down to the town of Aspen. There, Triple Crown seekers will have one evening to rest their legs before the 8 a.m. Mountain Bike start at the base of Aspen Mountain. The Mountain Bike Race will be the first ever Grand Traverse event to run the opposite direction: from Aspen to Crested Butte.  Racers will climb up Aspen Mountain and run the course in reverse, finishing in Mt. Crested Butte.

Join us in the Elk Mountains over Labor Day Weekend to test yourself with one of the hardest races in Colorado. Or go for a dual-sport weekend and race both! Register.

Drew Holbrook, was born and raised in Crested Butte Colorado.  He grew up ski racing for the Crested Butte Nordic Team and went on to ski for the University of Vermont. After working in Portillo, Chile for a few ski seasons, he moved back home to Crested Butte where he coached the Nordic Team. He is now director of Marketing for Crested Butte Nordic and the Grand Traverse and enjoys being in the mountains with good company.

Photos used in this post by Crested Butte Photographers Kevin Krill (Winter GT) and Xavier Fane (Summer GT).

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