Starting at midnight on Friday from Crested Butte, racers will traverse the Elk Mountains arriving in Aspen the next day.
Finishing Times - 8-16 Hours
The GORE-TEX® Grand Traverse is an unsupported backcountry ski race. The equipment racers carry into the backcountry is crucial. Each team must be independently prepared for a 24-hour bivouac. Due to the length of the course, varying conditions, and the number of racers, all participants must be prepared to be self-supporting in any and all situations.
Top Contenders - 2015
1. Team Smith/Wickenhauser - Gunnison, CO
Winners in 2014, 2012 and 2010. This being an odd year I think they'll have to wait till next year. They say Wick has a diesel engine, once he's warmed up, watch out! Wick has great course knowledge. He's not only racing but organizing the race as well. A great Smithy memory is watching him charge up the first climb at mach speed, dropping the entire field (including his teammate Wick) with Wick screaming at him to slow down.
2. Team Brown/Laird - Gunnison CO/Crested Butte, CO
Like Team Smith/Wickenhauser, these hometown boys have a vast knowledge of the course (remember, 40 miles in the dark!) Jon and Billy (aka Billian) have both had an amazing year racing SkiMo. Both were USSMA National team members who raced in Switzerland. JB went to World's to "train for the GT". He's been racing SkiMo since the first COSMIC season almost 10 years ago. Laird came out of nowhere (with Michael Hagen) to almost take Kroger/Simmons' podium spot in 2012. They call him the Pit Bull. Don't underestimate him.
3. Team Thomson/Krar - Crested Butte/Flagstaff, AZ
Thomson of "From the Road" fame tied the knot this winter (Stevie Kremer). This newlywed won the race in 2013 with partner Tom Goth. The last I saw of him in the 2013 race he was marching away to victory with a broken pole. This is ultra-runner Rob Krar's first year on the SkiMo scene. He is the Leadville 100 2014 champ (2nd fastest time ever).
J Marshall Thomson
4. Team Hamilton/Simmons - Durango, CO
This is Hamilton's first GT. I've completed the race 3 times. I finished 3rd in 2012 with Chris Kroeger. Like Krar, Paul is an ultra-runner. He finished 2nd at the Speedgoat and 1st at The Rut in 2014. Paul is using the GT to train for Transvulcania, an 83k running race in Spain this May. After Paul beat me up the 3,000' Engineer Mt climb by 20 minutes I asked him to partner up for the GT!
There are usually some dark horse teams out there as well. The report is fast and firm snow with warm temps. Pick the finishing order of these four teams (and the winning time for a tie-breaker) to win some Scarpa swag! Email your answers to; firstname.lastname@example.org