XTERRA triathlon returns to Snow Mountain Ranch
With world-class mountain bike competitions, grueling foot races through rugged terrain and a swim race across Grand Lake, Grand County has all of the amenities to keep a competitive athlete busy through the summer.
But there’s still only one event in the county that combines those three cornerstone sports into one exhaustive test of endurance.
The 2nd Annual XTERRA Snow Mountain Ranch Triathlon will once again test the mettle of participants on a scenic but challenging course on Saturday morning, Aug. 8, said Race Director Paul Karlsson.
Racers will complete two 500-meter laps in Gaylord Reservoir before hitting the trails for a 14-mile bike ride, Karlsson said. Racers will then continue on foot for four miles, the last mile of which is almost entirely uphill.
The loop utilizes a multitude of trail systems in various states of wear, Karlsson said.
“The scenery is unbelievable, and it’s a good mix of single track, double track and no track,” he said.
Some parts of the racecourse are fairly overgrown, and signage will be imperative to helping racers stay on track. It adds a bit of primitiveness to the race that’s appealing to Karlsson.
“Most XTERRA courses are pretty established trails, and here it’s almost like getting back to the roots of mountain biking when they made their own trails,” Karlsson said.
Karlsson, of Golden, brought the race to Snow Mountain Ranch from Eldora Mountain Resort, where it was held from 2008 to 2013.
A ski instructor with the National Sports Center for the Disabled for 15 years, Karlsson has deep roots in Grand County. He’s owned land in the area around Sheriff’s Creek since the 1960s, he said.
Karlsson started the Middle Park Half Marathon in 2011 before donating it to the Shining Stars Foundation in 2012, and he helped design the course for the Winter Park Half Marathon, he said.
Grand County residents will receive a $15 discount on the triathlon’s entry free.
An athlete himself, Karlsson has finished 10 Ironman Triathlons and organizes races through his company Dig Deep Sports LLC.
The Snow Mountain Ranch course isn’t as long as an Ironman race but still offers a challenge, Karlsson said. The loop includes around 2,000 feet of climbing.
“The response last year was, ‘I loved the course that was a lot harder than I thought it was going to be,” he said.
So far, 75 people have signed up for the race, Karlsson said.
Entry fees are $75 for individuals and $120 for relay teams until Aug. 5. After that, fees will increase to $90 for individuals and $130 for relay teams.
The race begins at 10 a.m. on Saturday.
The event is still seeking volunteers, Karlsson said.
The race will donate $25 per volunteer to organizations that elect to provide them.
Volunteers are need for the transition and finish line set-up at 6 p.m. on Aug. 7, and the race itself starting at 6:30 a.m. on Aug. 8.
The event will provide food and drinks from Elevation Pizza and Hideaway Park, Karlsson said.
Prizes for top finishers will include Rudy Project sunglasses and clothing from Darn Tough.
To register or volunteer, visit digdeepsports.com or contact Karlsson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Due to current public health guidance, there will not be an in-person wilderness campsite lottery for Rocky Mountain National Park this year.