This past Wednesday, January the 27th, the Catamount Trail Association in partnership with Bolton Valley Resort hosted our first Wednesday Night Citizen Skimo Race of the season, and it was a great success! The race series consists of seven total races scheduled to be held on consecutive Wednesday evenings at Bolton Valley on closed trails.
Going into this thing we really had no idea what was going to happen. Many months ago, when we first started exploring the possibility of an uphill oriented race series, the events were planned as uphill only races with a single climb up and a finish at the top. Having never done anything like this before, that format seemed safe and acceptable, and was something the people that get to approve these types of things could easily say yes to.
However, during last few leading up to the race we kept talking, and planning, and discussing, and thinking about all of the things that would help these events appeal to a very broad range of snow sliders. Fortunately, the administration at Bolton is super easy to work with and very open minded, and just weeks before the first race was scheduled they approved two new courses which include downhill components allowing for the race format we have currently adopted.
The new format is a true skimo style race with climbs, descents, and transitions. The uphill routes are ~1 mile long with ~800 ft of climbing and the goal each night is to complete as many laps as you can in 1 hour.
Or don’t. That’s the best thing about this series… Carbon everything and skin suits are not required. Uphillers of every kind are encouraged to come out and participate, and you’re welcome to geek out as much or as little as you want.
This past Wednesday that’s exactly what happened. Close to 80 people showed up (I think the official number was 77 or 78) to see what this event was all about. Some people showed up ready to rock with their carbon skis and boots, and spandex suits. Others showed up on fat skis with frame bindings, splitboards, and everything inbetween.
Once the race started, a large number of people did one lap then headed over to the lifts to take advantage of the single-ride tickets included with registration. Other participants kept at it until the clock ran out. The point being that this event provides everyone with the flexibility to make it whatever you want.
In the end the event went very well, but it wasn’t without a few little mishaps. The first thing we noticed was that the transition area we marked out at the bottom of the course was much too small. Next week we plan to enlarge this area and provide some additional lighting to help with visibility on approach.
We also realized that the flags we used to mark the course were darn near impossible to see unless you were looking right at them. This wasn’t a huge deal as the course was not complicated, except that we did learn at the end of the night that everyone had transitioned 1 turn too early cutting out ~0.15 miles and 100 feet of additional climbing. Again… no big deal since everyone followed the same course. However, it did indicate how difficult it was to see the flags, and in the future–hopefully by Race #2–we have ordered small colored LED lights which we will attach to stakes to indicate the course.
So who won? Well, we like to think that everyone did! From where we sat it seemed like everyone had a good time and was happy and excited to be there. That said, there were some pretty dang fast people in attendance.
Peter Howe took top honors for the men with 4 laps in just 58 minutes. Even with the shortened course that is just crazy fast! On the women’s side, Joanne Grogan came out and crushed it putting up 3 laps in 1hr 11min. Also, word on the street is that one of the gentleman that completed 4 laps did so on a splitboard! Now, no offense to splitboarders, but your transitions just take longer. I wish we knew this guys name because he obviously crushes and definitely deserves some respect! If you want to see the “full” results list Click Here.
I say “full” because timing is one of the other areas that could definitely use some refinement. Originally we had planned to use a timing app on a phone to track finishers. However, in the cold the phone died, so we resorted to a watch, but we know we didn’t capture everyone that started and finished the event. We have plans to fix this… don’t worry. Eventually we will get it figured out.
Anyway, if you weren’t there for race #1 you should really consider trying to make race #2. If you were there… We hope you’re coming back. It was a super fun time and we really think that you’ll have a great time no matter how you slide on snow.
Also, if you have any feedback about the event please let us know by posting on the CTA Facebook Page. We’re dedicated to making this a fun and rewarding experience for everyone. We’re slowly learning, but we’ll be able to improve things even faster if you’ll let us know what’s not working.
Hope to see you on Wednesday… Think Snow!