Instagram Takeover: Crested Butte Nordic’s Grand Traverse Triple Crown

In 2017, extreme sports athletes will participate in the first-ever Grand Traverse Triple Crown, a multi-sport / multi-season endurance race from the adventurous minds at Crested Butte Nordic—a non profit organization based in Crested Butte, Colorado. This epic Ski-Run-Bike race originates from the organization’s long-running event, the Grand Traverse, a point-to-point ski race from Crested Butte to Aspen. For those seeking to elevate their mountain traverse experience, athletes can participate in the trail run, also from Crested Butte to Aspen, and the mountain bike race from Aspen to Crested Butte. This race will test athletes ability to strategize as a team as well as test individual perseverance.

We chatted with Drew Holbrook, Marketing Director at Crested Butte Nordic, to learn more about this exciting tri-disciplinary race.

1.) Can you tell us about this race and why you think so many winter athletes are drawn to it?

The winter event is like no other. Starting in the middle of the night, often with below-freezing temperatures, in a pack of 500 people is like no other experience you can have. Cresting Star Pass in the middle of the course and in the middle of nowhere at dawn is truly memorable. All three events have the point-to-point aspect, which is very alluring. Here are the statistics for the race:

  • 37.3 miles in distance
  • 6,852 ft. ascent
  • 8,264 ft. descent

Typical winning times:

  • ski: around 7 hours
  • run: around 6 hours
  • bike: under 5 hours

Slower finishers

  • ski: 16 hours
  • run: 12 hours
  • bike: 10hours


2.) You’ve had athletes like Aron Ralston participate in CB Nordic events. Are you expecting any big names in any of these three races?

We typically have some big ultra runners like Rob Krar and Marshal Thompson and people known for a desire to suffer like Joey Schusler and Thomas Woodson. We’re not sure who’s got it in their plans this year. One of our mountain bikers this year had just gotten back from the Olympics in Rio and was winning until he started to worry about hypothermia on Taylor Pass as it was raining and snowing and took a long stop there in the tent to warm up.

3.) For the ski portion of the race, can you tell us about the ‘Grand Reverse’ concept?

The Grand Reverse happens when weather or avalanche danger is too hazardous to send people into the high alpine over Star Pass and Taylor Pass. In that case, racers turn around before Star Pass and return to Crested Butte on a reverse route.

4.) What are some of the biggest challenges that keep athletes from finishing in these events?

In the winter most common is hydration system like Camelbak freezing and people getting dehydrated. Also, skins freeze. We recommend an extra pair of skins. If your’s freeze the glue can stop working and they don’t stick to the ski anymore. If you don’t have a spare pair that you can use while your others thaw out in your jacket, you literally can’t continue on. People have a hard time eating as well. Something about the cold temps that just makes it hard to feed. People have had ice crystals from on their corneas and scratch their eyeballs as they blink causing them to lose their vision.  The effect is only temporary and heals but this did happen one year. In the run, stomach problems can be a big issue. In the bike, equipment failure can be a big problem. This year in both the run and the bike many people got too cold which slowed them down if not ending their race all together.

4.) This is the first year for the Triple Crown – an event that athletes can participate in all three (ski-run-bike) portions of the events. Can you tell us more about the Triple Crown and how athletes register to participate?

In order to enter the Triple Crown, you must get a spot in the winter event, which can be a challenge. Registration for the winter event opens on December 1 at midnight and is often sold out by late morning. At that time, you can register for the Run and Bike as an individual or recruit your friends to form a two or three-person Triple Crown Team. The winter event is capped at 500 people. The bike and run, in their 3rd year had about 150 people each this year. Early priority registration for the 2017 Grand Traverse Triple Crown is open the entire month of October. This registration is open to 50 individual Triple Crown participants only. By entering the individual Triple Crown, you secure a team spot in the 2017 Winter Grand Traverse. Even if you have not secured a partner for the winter, you can still sign up for the Triple Crown.

5.) This race is a fundraiser for Crested Butte Nordic. Can you tell us more about this non-profit organization?

Crested Butte Nordic, founded in 1987, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with a mission to provide individuals of all ages and abilities the opportunity to learn, enjoy, and improve in the sports of Nordic skiing and snowshoeing. We maintain over 50 kilometers of meticulously groomed trails around the Town of Crested Butte and offer complete ski and snowshoe rental packages as well as private lessons, clinics, tours, and fine yurt dining. Our Nordic Center and trailheads are within walking distance from all of Crested Butte’s restaurants and lodgings.

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