The Grand Traverse

maxtaamWritten by MAX TAAM

Living in Aspen it’s hard to not know about the Grand Traverse. I race the biggest skimo races in the world in Europe but when I am at home everyone is always asking about the Elk Mountain Grand Traverse. It’s a one of kind race and on many Colorado (and beyond) residents bucket lists.

The Elk Mountain Grand Traverse is a backcountry ski race that starts at midnight and crosses the 40 miles from Crested Butte to Aspen.  There has always been a friendly rivalry between the two mountain towns and a team from Aspen hasn’t won the race since its very first running 20 years ago.

GT Start

Photo Jacob Wearsch

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Rim to Rim LCR in the Grand Canyon

On April 10, Peter Bakwin and I ran from the North Rim of the Grand Canyon to the South Rim. “R2R” of course is now quite normal; a bucket-list route for many. But this took us 11.5 hours. Why so long? Because we started on the North Rim of the Little Colorado River, descended the fabled Hopi Salt Trail, ran and thrashed down the LCR for 10 miles to the Confluence with the Colorado River, traversed along the Beamer Trail for another 9.5 miles, then cranked up to the South Rim on the old Tanner Trail. It’s an interesting route; a worthy addition to our “R2R2R.alt” of a few years ago.

HST PB

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IOC Announces Ultrarunning to become Olympic Sport

April 1, 2017

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Lausanne, Switzerland –

In a press conference April 1, International Olympic Committee President Baron Le Chiffre announced that a 100 mile trail race would be the next Olympic Sport, starting in 2024.

“Ultrarunning clearly meets all the necessary Criteria”, stated Le Chiffre.  “There’s no reward while there is a great deal of suffering, it’s completely pointless, and yet thousands of people are absolutely passionate adherents”.

The news brought rejoicing throughout the close-knit ultra community.  

“People ride horses, shoot arrows, and throw spears for Olympic medals; we’re just as primitive as they are,” enthused Dot Matrix, longtime ultrarunner and computer programmer.  “Climbing even made it in and they’re even crazier than we are; why not ultrarunning?”

“I quit my job and dropped out of college so I could  ‘pursue my ultrarunning career’” exclaimed Manny Yong Malles.  “Also, my beautiful and smart girlfriend got sick of living out of the back of the pickup truck and left me; this is just the opportunity I’ve been counting on”.

Top ultra runners welcomed the news.  Timmy Olsen said he would lead a meditation retreat, Scott Jurek volunteered to be featured in a book on the subject, Anton Krupicka would offer attire and style pointers, and Peter Bakwin would list everyone’s previous times.  No one said they would actually run, because everyone knew Jim Walmsley would trounce everyone no matter what.  If he was able to follow the course.

Kilian Journet could not be contacted for comment on this news, as he had quit Facebook, Twitter, and all social media, and was now living off the grid somewhere in Norway, running 100 miles per day in the mountains eating nothing but home-grown vegetables and fresh picked wildflowers.

It is widely believed that Berzerkistan will be chosen as the site of the 2024 Games.  

“It possesses all the key criteria we are always looking for”, stated Ly In Focker, Chairman of the Selection Committee. “In July Berzerkistan is stinking hot, close to 90% humidity, infested with mosquitos, and they have zero infrastructure or ability to pull this off.  However, they have amassed a massive war chest of $100 Million dollars to purchase every member of this Committee a villa on the French Riviera, so unless Russia’s economy improves enough for them to get back in the game, we think Berzerkistan is an ideal Olympic Venue”.

When asked for comment, Berzerkistan’s President-For-Life, Khal Drogo, would only say, “We welcome the Olympic community to our humble country.  We promise to uphold the Olympic Ideals, by ignoring our own people, pouring our vast oil riches into huge concrete stadiums, abandoning them immediately on completion of the Games, and bankrupting our own economy, all for a brief moment of personal glory for myself.”

With the Announcement, the full backstory of this amazing news finally emerged.  

The main point of contention, as expected, was whether pacers should be allowed or not.

Representatives from the US Olympic Committee insisted pacers be allowed.  “We invented this stupid sport, we’ve always had pacers, so they must be allowed in the Olympics” they reasoned.  The Euros – and indeed the entire rest of the world – argued vehemently that pacers should not be allowed, because either you can run the course or you can’t, plus they were eager to gang up and get revenge on the US for not supporting climate change treaties.  “You Americans, you are … how you say it? … complete wimps!” shouted René Belloq, in one heated exchange, while lighting another cigarette.

After weeks of the usual heated and senseless debate, the Aussie delegation finally resolved the issue with their convincing argument of, “Who gives a crap anyway?  No worries mate; let’s crack a few beers”.

The key for Inclusion was ensuring top-notch media coverage.

NBC, CBS, and ESPN all declined to pay the billions of dollars they usually shell out for Olympic TV coverage, saying, “Watching ultrarunning is like watching paint dry”.

That’s when media giant iRunFar.com stepped in, offering to pay the unprecedented sum of $76.39 for exclusive coverage.

Media mogul Bryon Powell reportedly saved the day, making repeated trips from his Moab mountain-top retreat to IOC meetings in his 10-year old Prius, ensuring there would be enough support for ultrarunning to be included.

“This is so important, I was willing to invest a large portion of my personal fortune to make sure this happened”, stated Powell, supposedly off the record, after a few beers at Eddie McStiff’s.  “I didn’t quit my lucrative law practice in DC and sell my private jet just to see this opportunity wasted”.

With the crucial element of cryptic Twitter feeds coming anonymously from unpronounceable places on a course no one understands from a country no one even knew existed finally in place, the rest of the key components quickly fell into place.

Rickey Gates agreed to supply the beverage at the aid stations.  Anna Frost agreed to host the after-race party.  Krissy Moehl agreed to be the designated nice person in hopes of fooling other people into thinking all ultra runners aren’t complete lunatics. Nathan Hydration will be the hydration sponsor, which is easy because all they have to do is copy what everyone has done before.  Salomon signed on to furnish the one-piece white spandex uniforms everyone must wear, including the men, although only the French will.  The North Face will pay a shit-ton of sponsorship money to furnish shoes no one will wear.

“Ultrarunning’s time has finally come”, intoned Buzz Burrell, noted for having never done anything but is so old no one can remember that far back.  “Time flies like an arrow.  Fruit flies like a banana”.