Summit athletes put endurance on display at GoPro Mountain Games in Vail
If you noticed less endurance athletes out training in Summit County last week, that is likely because a good amount of them were participating in the GoPro Mountain Games in Vail from Tuesday, June 7, through Sunday, June 12.
The Mountain Games are put on by the Vail Valley Foundation, which strives to provide an enhanced quality of life in the Vail Valley through arts, athletics and education.
The GoPro Mountain Games occur every year, culminating in a gathering of thousands of pro and amateur athletes from across the country.
The athletes compete in 11 disciplines and more than 30 competitions including kayaking, running, slacklining, trail running, mountain biking, road cycling, climbing, photography, dog competitions and more.
In the Adidas Terrex 20-kilometer Anniversary Run, competitors put their limits to the test as they embarked on a hilly trail at 9,000 feet in elevation.
Helen Cospolich, 45, of Breckenridge placed 10th overall in a time of 2 hours, 21 minutes and 25.4 seconds. She split 1:08:41.6 during her first 10-kilometers and ran slightly over that time on her second 10-kilometer leg of the run in order to fight off falling from the top 10. Katherine Gueldemeister of Breckenridge and Frisco’s Megan Wood also competed in the women’s open race. Both athletes crossed the finish line at the same time, but Gueldemeister was awarded 23rd place while Wood placed 24th. Both athletes finished in a time of 2:58:05.7.
In Pepi’s Face-off, athletes were tasked with running laps up and down Pepi’s Face on Vail Mountain. Competitors ran laps for 30 minutes, and the athlete who completed the most amount of laps in that time was awarded first place.
Frisco’s Zachary Russell, fresh off competing in the Frisco Roundup mountain bike race, competed in the steep endurance race where he gained about 250 feet of elevation per lap.
Russell was able to overcome the challenging course to complete five total laps, which was enough for him to place 11th overall in the men’s race.
“I thought it was good. I was one second off from being able to do a sixth lap, and last year I think I was 40 seconds from a sixth lap,” Russell said. “It’s a fun event, and I think what I like most is that everyone is standing along the fence and cheering. With me being a local, a lot of people know my name, so it’s fun to hear all that.”
Following Russell was another Frisco-based endurance athlete, Arthur Whitehead. Whitehead also completed five laps but finished his last lap behind Russell in order to place 12th overall.
Breckenridge’s Joshua Ernst notched a top-20 finish by placing 18th after completing five laps, while 56-year-old Silverthorne resident, Reid Storch placed 29th after finishing four laps.
Enrique and Ezekiel Morris of Silverthorne rounded out the Summit County talent in the men’s race. Enrique placed 42nd, and 9-year-old Ezekiel finished three full laps to hit the finish line in 54th place.
The women’s race of Pepi’s Face-off featured only one Summit-based athlete — Lizeth Morris, 38, who placed in 19th place after finishing three laps.
The Apres 5-kilometer race was dominated by talent from Breckenridge and Silverthorne. In the boys 13-14-year-old age division Breckenridge resident, Kye Gosnell placed third overall in a time of 36:44.6.
Filip Kawka from Silverthorne placed ninth overall in the men’s 19-29 age division with a time of 25:56.5, while Tyler Connery of Breckenridge placed 18th in 32:54.8.
Storch, who raced in Pepi’s Face-off, was able to place third in the Apres 5-kilometer race in a time of 26:40.2.
Kyle Gosnell placed 14th in the 50-59-years-old division in a time of 38:32.14.
In the GoPro Dual Slalom pro division mountain bike race, the competition started with 28 competitors and was narrowed down to 16 participants after the first round of runs. The crowd was then dwindled down to four by the final round.
Jack Pederson from Silverthorne made the top-16 cutoff after his first run but was not able to make the quarter final cutoff. He finished in 16th place in a time of 55.170 seconds.
In the GoPro Dual Slalom open division mountain bike race, Chris Cawley finished fourth in the 50-years-old and older age bracket. Merrick Neerhof matched Cawley’s fourth place finish in the women’s 15- to 18-year-old age division, placing fourth overall.
The open division Oakley cross-country mountain bike race featured Alyssa Ringo from Silverthorne. Ringo placed third after navigating a challenging 5.5 mile, three-loop course for a total of 16.5 miles. Ringo finished in a time of 1:55:26, which was 6:45 behind Alexis Skarda from Grand Junction who placed first.
Kevin Minard of Dillon placed 15th in the 35-year-old and older age division while racing the amateur portion of the cross-country mountain bike race. Breckenridge’s Molly Edwards finished seventh in the beginner women’s race in a time of 1:00:39.7.
Erin McGinnis earned a gold medal in the women’s 55-year-old and older road bike time trial race. The Breckenridge resident finished the course in 36:27.22 which was enough to beat second place by close to eight minutes.
Kyle Alsup placed 27th overall in the men’s open road bike time trial race, crossing the finish line in a time of 39:13.69.
The Vail Valley Foundation also hosts the Winter Mountain Games in Vail which usually occur each year around February. A date for the 2023 winter games has not yet been announced.
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