Hundreds strap in for the 5th Annual Stagecoach Classic (video) |

Hundreds strap in for the 5th Annual Stagecoach Classic (video)

Racers lineup moments before the 30k race at Devil's Thumb Ranch on Jan. 20, 2018.
Sawyer D’Argonne/Sky-Hi News

Nearly 400 people gathered at Devil’s Thumb Ranch on Saturday to participate in the fifth Annual Stagecoach Classic Race & Tour. The race takes participants from the ranch in Tabernash 15 kilometers to where they finish at Hideaway Park in Downtown Winter Park.

“I’ve done every addition of the race,” said Dan Weinberger from Boulder. “I get to race against my college teammates, it’s a beautiful course and it’s nice to have the opportunity to race point-to-point as well. They have a lot of rolling terrain, and when you get on the trails to go to Winter Park it’s a pretty unique experience to have a single track through the woods. It’s more like old school racing.”

The event began five years ago out of a desire to create a more unique, rural race.

“It was supposed to capture the rustic feel of skiing here back in the days before we had these big resorts and stuff,” said Grady Vigneau, assistant manager at the Devil’s Thumb activity center. “The course is so unique, it’s really blown up in popularity.”

The event features two races of 30 and 15k, along with a 15k tour that allows less competitive participants to ski or snowshoe at their leisure. The 30k race is the most competitive, looping around Devil’s Thumb Ranch for 15k before proceeding toward Winter Park. The course connects a series of trails through forest service land, along with private land, and is only open one day a year.

“I haven’t ever done this race,” said Josh Smullin, a ski coach from Steamboat Springs. “So I decided to make it this year and give it a try. I like what it’s all about, a point-to-point race through the woods rather than skiing little loops.”

The course ends at Hideaway Park where there is an after party featuring a DJ, raffle, prizes for the winners and a free beer from Odell Brewing Company. Each year the event also raises money for a local charity. This year 20 percent of the proceeds from the race will go to Mountain Family Center, a Granby based organization dedicated to fighting huger and poverty.

“The course itself is pretty unique,” said Chris Michalowski of Granby, who participated for the fourth time this year. “You get in the trees with these funky single track sections. And ending at Winter Park is nice. There’s a big stage, lots of people and just good energy.”

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