A-Basin Rise and Shine Rando series debuts with criterium on Nov. 29 | SummitDaily.com

A-Basin Rise and Shine Rando series debuts with criterium on Nov. 29

The Arapahoe Basin Ski Area Rise and Shine Rando series is back for its fifth season, and it debuts with a brand-new format organizers have never tried before: an uphill-downhill criterium (crit) on Nov. 29.

"This is just a different way of racing and training," said Adrienne Saia Isaac, communications manager with A-Basin.

It's also a creative way to make up for low snowfall. The usual top-to-bottom course isn't covered yet, and so organizers had to get creative. Here's how the rando crit works: competitors in the first race have an hour to complete as many laps as possible, beginning with a mass start at 7 a.m. The course takes folks up High Noon to the transition at Black Mountain Lodge, and then down Ramrod for 700 vertical feet over about one mile. After time's up, the top-3 men and women with the most uphill-downhill laps make the debut podium. It's like a time trial on steroids, and organizers hope it makes a stellar start to the four-part series.

"This is new territory for us, but we're hoping that the people who have been doing this for a few seasons will find something new to like," Saia Isaac said. "We like to keep it interesting."

Series continues

After the crit, the Rise and Shine series continues on Tuesday mornings in December and January. Cost is $25 per race or $80 for the entire series. That saves $20 if you make it to all four events. Buy online or at check-in, beginning at 6 a.m. on race days. And no, you don't need a lift ticket to race in the series — you just need one to ski at A-Basin after lifts start spinning.

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Will this be the season of the never-ending crits? Of course not. Organizers hope to return on Dec. 13 with the traditional full course, which takes racers 1,500-plus vertical feet and two or three miles on a route to the summit. For comparison, you need to make three laps on the crit course to equal the traditional opening course. (In other words: do at least three laps.)

Snow or no snow, the series is back with plenty of prizes and goodies for participants. All podium finishers take home a sponsor prize — think gear from Dynafit, Clif Bar, Wilderness Sports and A-Basin — and every race ends with a free clinic hosted by Joe Howdyshell of Summit Endurance Academy. Clinics begin around 8-8:30 a.m. and run throughout the series.

If you're new to uphill, Dynafit is bringing a limited number of demo skis, boots and bindings to every race. Show up early to get fitted before the setups are gone.

But what about uphill?

Don't want to race but still want to skin up the Basin? Uphill travel all day long is still closed as of Nov. 27. That includes early morning access before lifts start spinning and afternoon access after the lifts close. Again, it's a side effect of low snow — there's just too much heavy machinery on the slopes for skinning up the side.

Check the snow conditions page at arapahoebasin.com for up-to-date info. Once things get started, uphill travel is free (aka no lift ticket required) with a registered pass. Pick one up from the season pass office in the village area during operational hours.

Rise and Shine Rando No. 1

What: The first race in the four-part uphill-downhill race series, featuring a one-hour criterium on High Noon and Ramrod

When: Tuesday, Nov. 29, at 7 a.m.

Where: Arapahoe Basin base area

Cost: $25 per person

Fee includes entry and post-race freebies. Registration for the entire series is $80. The course covers 700 vertical feet over about one mile, and competitors complete as many laps as possible in one hour. To register or find out more, see arapahoebasin.com/events.

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Rise and Shine Rando Series

Check-in for events begins at 6 a.m. in the village rental shop. Racing begins at 7 a.m. For details on the courses, including distances and vertical feet, see arapahoebasin.com/events and click on the upcoming race.

Tuesday, Nov. 29 — Race 1, High Noon to Ramrod criterium

Tuesday, Dec. 13 — Race 2, TBA

Tuesday, Jan. 10 — Race 3, TBA

Tuesday, Jan. 24 — Race 4, TBA