Breckenridge 5 Peaks Race Report
Breckenridge mountain is certainly built for a skimo race with pronounced peaks, technical climbs, and steep descents. It has been a blustery year for races all over the country and of course BreckenFRIDGE would hold up to its reputation. This is easily one of the highest races in the country with all the action happening between 11,000 and 13,000 feet. The weather reported predicted win chills as lowest -9 degrees and it was all the buzz before the starting line. 5 Peaks was the first team event of the 2014 skimo series, with a vertical gain of over 6000 ft including 4 climbs and 3 boot packs.
A record 132 racers made it to the starting line and the ever growing lycra clad, skinny ski race contingent was looking strong. The "gun" went off and and the skimo sprint that begins every race began. To my relief, everyone, including the top racers, were pacing them selves for a long race with an estimated winning time of 3 hours, so the speed was moderate. The first climb was slow and gradual on a groomer dissipating to snowy single track. Billy Laird put a strong move to be out front, but the lead pack would stay close, with the favorites Max Taam and John Gaston looking relaxed as they disappeared around the next bend.
The conditions help up for most of the race. Surprisingly it was while skinning up the poles to gain the ridge lines that were the windiest places. On top of of the summits and ridge lines the wind seemed to glance off the peaks and only low visibility really effected the race.
Max and John took the lead to the top of the first climb and held onto it for the remainder of the race with a 2:35 impressive winning time. In third place overall, Stevie Kremer and Marshal Thomas took down the coed division. In their first race for wearing lycra, Jessie Young and Annie Gonzales took home the Women's long course title.
For Cripple Creek Backcountry Brian and I took 6th Place after I suffered a huge wipeout and a catastrophic ski chase ensued off of peak 7. Randy and Chase in their first team race together came in 16 place and continue to get stronger with each event.
This race grew over 30 percent from 2013-2014 and I believe it will become one of the fastest growing races in the country. I can't wait to hit this on a nice day to take in the views of summit county.
All pictures thanks to Coutney Kenady at Climbbetty.com.
- Doug Stenclik