Breckebeiner 60 raises thousands for BOEC |

Breckebeiner 60 raises thousands for BOEC

Summit Daily/Brad Odekirk Gene Dayton, founder of the Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center, celebrates the second annual Breckebeiner 60 Nordic race Sunday at the Breckenridge Nordic Center.

BRECKENRIDGE – When Gene Dayton finished his final lap of the Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center (BOEC) Breckebeiner 60 on Sunday, the spectators and participants gathered and did the same thing they did last year – they sang Dayton happy birthday.

Though only in its second year, the 60K endurance event coincides with the week of Dayton’s birthday, and was founded on his 60th birthday last year.

Dayton, who started the BOEC in 1976 with a mission to assist people with disabilities and outdoor recreation education, created the event to benefit the BOEC scholarship fund.

According to Dayton’s wife, Terese, Gene got the idea for the event after his close friend, Freda Langell Nieters, skied 70,000 vertical feet on her 70th birthday to raise money for a local charity. According to Terese, around $7,000 was raised by the end of the event Sunday.

More a fundraiser than a competition, the majority of the field was made up of local Nordic skiers, many of them friends of Dayton.

Except for a handful of participants, most people leisurely made their way through the 3.5K loop throughout the morning, doing laps only when it suited them and otherwise taking time to socialize with friends.

Only a few people completed the entire 60K, while a few of the participants were members of teams. Other people simply chose to go as far as they could, completing anywhere from 15K to 45K.

“Most people take this as a pledge event,” said Helen Cospolich, a BOEC spokesperson.

“They start and stop when they want to.”

BOEC executive director Rich Cook added, “It’s the only Nordic event you can join in anytime.”

Isaac Barnes was the first to complete the entire race.

With the informal nature of the event, he was also the first to start, setting off at 6:30 a.m.

“It was kind of nice to have snow,” Barnes said.

“A week ago we thought we might not even have the event.”

Barnes was part of the trail maintenance crew that kept the course skiable during last week’s unseasonably warm temperatures, when Frisco and Gold Run Nordic centers closed.

“We’ve been working all week,” Terese said.

“We found the best course possible and have been moving snow into place.”

When snowfalls in the Breckenridge area reached eight inches on Friday and Saturday, all the work paid off and participants were greeted with a firm course that wrapped through the heart of the Nordic center, giving views of Breckenridge Ski Resorts’ Peak 7.

Pledges will still be accepted after the Breckebeiner 60 was completed Sunday.

“Pledges tend to trickle in after the event,” Cospolich said.

“We can take any kind of donation, and it all goes in support of our programs.”

According to Terese, last year the event raised a total of $12,000 for the BOEC.

To make a donation, contact the BOEC at (970) 453-6422.

Richard Chittick can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 236 or at

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