Endurance Snow Sports

Rabbit Tested: Things get curiouser and curiouser at the Alley Loop Nordic Marathon in Crested Butte. Photo: Courtesy Crested Butte Nordic

If you haven’t tried endurance snow sports yet, you’re missing a chance for some serious winter suffering, err, scenery. If cold weather isn’t your thing, we promise you’ll get warm fast, and have a heck of a lot more fun then running like a hamster in the gym. Some of these races require snowshoes, others skis and some just plain old running shoes.

The Heathen Challenge
January 14 • Sunlight Mountain
If you’re looking to try Ski Mountaineering, or SkiMo, racing, the Heathen is a perfect opportunity. Participants skin or hike up the East Ridge and ski down the infamous Heathen. There are several categories to choose from depending on your ability and equipment, as well as two different courses—one for race and one for rec.

Colorado Governor’s Cup 2012
January 21 • Tabernash 
Now in its 25th year, the Cup is the premier cross-country skiing race in Colorado, featuring both skate and classic races in three different distances: 5K, 17K and 30K and a 1K kids race. Stick around for the post-race BBQ and live music. Heck, stick around for the 10,000-square-foot spa at Devil’s Thumb Ranch.

Frosty’s Frozen Five & Ten
January 21 • Littleton 
The second installment of this popular winter running series features a fast and flat course along the banks of the South Platte River. Choose to race either the 5K or 10K. Finishers are treated to a steaming cup of hot chocolate. And don’t miss the final race in the series—the Snowman Stampede.

Nighthawk Race Series
Wednsday nights, starting January 25 • Eldora
A favorite local winter training event, Eldora’s evening race series is back for 2012. Spanning six consecutive Wednesday nights, the series draws Boulder’s uber-athletes, along with the rest of us ordinary Front Rangers. Compete as an individual, or on a team up to six, racing downhill, snowboard or tele, in a Dual GS format, or hitting the trails on snowshoes or Nordic skis.

COSMIC Sprint Race and SIA Uphill/Downhill Challenge
January 30 • Winter Park
For experienced SkiMo racers, the International Ski Mountaineering Federation is holding the North American Championships at Crested Butte on the 28th. But for the rest of us, there’s a fun fundraiser for the US Ski Mountaineering Association at Winter Park on the 30th, featuring a free race, free beer and one of the best raffles around.

SnowDash Extreme 5K
February 4 • Echo Mountain 
More than just a 5K run, the SnowDash is a winter obstacle course at 10,000 feet. Expect to climb over cargo nets, hustle through snow tires, sprint up a snow-covered hill and crawl through powder pits. Apres race, you’ll be treated to plenty of loud music and a ticket for one free beer.

Alley Loop Nordic Marathon
February 4 • Crested Butte 
The only American Ski Marathon Series race in the state, and a qualifier for the Holy Grail of Nordic races, the American Birkebeiner, the Alley is sure to bring out Colorado’s fittest and fastest. It’s also Crested Butte’s craziest costume party and biggest cross-country skiing event of the year.

Winter Teva Mountain Games
February 10-12 • Vail
The first ever winter Teva Mountain Games are happening this season in Vail, and the selection of endurance races is dizzying. From charging uphill on snowshoes or skis, to Nordic racing, to mixed climbing comps, to an on-snow mountain bike criterium, the Games have something for everyone—even races with your pooch.

Beaver Creek Snowshoe Adventure Series
February 12 • Beaver Creek
The second race in this fun, low-key series will be held at Creekside Park. Newbies can arrive early and demo Atlas snowshoes for free. Choose from a 5K or 10K course, complete with aid stations. The series’ grand finale is the Jeremy Wright North American Snowshoe Championships held at the McCoy Park on March 11th.

Race the Divide
February 26 • Monarch Mountain
Rumor has it that this Salida SkiMo race is adding more tree skiing and boot pack to the course this year. This is a great first ski mountaineering race experience as categories are small (only two women entered the Ladies’ Rec category last year) and everyone is really supportive. Enter the Race category and complete four laps and 3,500 feet of vertical, or the Rec category for two laps and 1,500 vert.


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