The following race report was sent in by Jeremy Rietmann – steadily improving Colorado skimo racer – who has shared his racing adventures with Skintrack readers before. Thank you!
So far for the 2013 season, the Colorado Ski Mountaineering Cup (COSMIC) races have been all about the one thing all of us love – Powder! The December 7th Irwin/La Sportiva Skimo Race provided a nice follow-up to the fantastic early season conditions enjoyed by racers two weeks ago at Wolf Creek.
Irwin provides a truly unique race experience on the COSMIC circuit with its backcountry setting, fairly complicated access logistics (made smooth by the great Irwin crew), late start time – and this year – great snow conditions. With nearly a foot of new snow, Irwin no doubt provided the highest concentration of smiles and spandex in Colorado on Saturday.
Saturday’s race was a prime example of the huge growth in both interest and talent in the US skimo world. 70 racers toed the line between all race divisions this year – a nearly 30% increase in participation from the 54 racers that joined in the fun the last time this race was held in 2011.
Irwin attracted top talent on both the women’s and men’s sides with Stevie Kremer, Sari Anderson and McKenna Douglas taking the 1-2-3 podium spots for the women, and Stevie Kremer besting her 2011 winning finishing time by 5 minutes and 19 seconds with a finishing time of 2:20:48.
On the men’s side, heavy (light?) hitters like John Gaston, Tom Goth, Max Taam, Brian Smith and Marshall Thompson battled it out up-front with John Gaston taking the win in 1:58:39. This bested Marshall Thompson’s winning time in 2011 by nearly 7 minutes. Brian Smith and Tom Goth took the 2nd and 3rd podium spots for the men, fighting it out until the end and finishing with only 5 seconds between them.
John Gaston once again rocketed away on the downhills and he and Max Taam just couldn’t stop racing as they both found their way back to Aspen later that day to participate in the Summit for Life/Chris Klug Foundation uphill benefit race – which John also won.
Top talent aside, Team Crested Butte’s recent speaking tour in the Front Range (Boulder area) appeared to pay promotional dividends with a number of first timers taking on a new adventure and toeing the line to enjoy a new experience. For any of you out there for which Irwin was your first skimo race – Welcome!
In the rec race, Matt Clark of Gunnison took home the win with Amelia Poppe of Crested Butte finishing in the top spot for the women.
» Here’s a PDF with the 2013 Irwin Skimo Race results.
A number of highlights and some wisdom
- Being towed to the race for nearly an hour behind a snowmobile in frigid temps may not sound like that bad of an idea (…yes it does) until you’re standing at the starting line with shot hip flexors, noodles for arms and lungs full of 4-stroke engine exhaust. My advice, take the cat-ride, it’ll be the cheapest cat-skiing you’ll do all year.
- Irwin is one of the best opportunities on the COSMIC circuit to socialize and get to know your fellow racers. A couple of hours chatting in a 4mph snowcat is a quick way to get to know people better and the group-think associated with needing to pee is hilarious. If Crested Butte local Allen Hadley is in your snowcat – the stories will be wild and plentiful – and the extra entertainment is free of charge. Add it all up and the additional transport fee to the race start is worth it.
- Don’t go out too hard – 5000 feet of climbing is just enough to make the last 4-500 feet fairly painful if you didn’t dial in the output perfectly on take off. If your working heart rate is on a continual downward slide throughout the race, try starting a little slower next time. “End of the Race You” will thank “Beginning of the Race You” for the adjustment.
- Positive mental dialogue is always a good thing to cultivate during a hard race. But, if you don’t have it during the race, just keep on plugging. You’ll likely do just fine and probably better than you expect.
- As goofy as skin suits are, they are incredibly functional and make racing much more logistically enjoyable. Heat regulation and skin, food and beacon storage are all vastly improved when wearing a suit. Just pretend you’re a young Elvis or Catwoman and get on with it.
A special thanks to race director Bryan Wickenhauser and the good folks at Irwin for making this race possible. Next up on the COSMIC circuit: Frisco Randocross on December 31st – New Year’s Eve! www.cosmicski.com
Jeremy Rietmann – @JeremyRietmann