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How to train: The Elk Mountain Grand Traverse

February 19, 2015

It’s midnight on a Saturday in March, and you’re standing in the dark with your beacon, headlamp and skis on. You’re surrounded by a bunch of other folks who look the same. The gun sounds and you all make your way uphill and into the dark… The Elk Mountain Grand Traverse is backcountry ski race from Crested Butte to Aspen. It’s been around for 17 years, drawing inspiration from a famous european ski mountaineering event, called the Patrouille des Glaciers, and from historical mail routes between Crested Butte and Aspen. It’s known for whiteouts, stream crossings, monster blisters and generally being super hard. My partner, Lydia, and I (Brooks) have been training all winter in hopes of completing it in under 12 hours.  Yea, that sounds like a lot of time to be skiing, but with a challenging 40 mile course in the high alpine of Colorado, we think it’s a pretty lofty goal. IMG_8207   Both of us come from cycling, so we’re no strangers to spandex and endurance efforts. While we won’t be donning any stretchy-pants to race, we will be applying some of the training and nutrition tricks we’ve learned through years as bike racers. A quick disclaimer; we’re against training hard. We’ve collectively spent way too much time in the overtraining cave, and we know it’s dark and hungry in there. For this race, we’re focusing instead on having fun, staying healthy and challenging each other. Our team name, which we borrowed from some friends in Montana, reflects our attitude, and we have no idea whether it will work or not. (During the race, look online for the SPOT beacon labeled “Team Least Mode” to find out.) IMG_5072 In these last few weeks leading up to the Grand Traverse we’ll be sharing some of the stuff we’ve learned this winter, including which bars don’t freeze, how to keep your feet happy for eight hours in ski boots, and what you definitely shouldn’t eat immediately before training. (hint: it’s Christmas brunch.) We hope our stories will be informative or at least entertaining. Thanks for reading!