Dayton glides to 60 |

Dayton glides to 60

BRECKENRIDGE – To say Gene Dayton has a lot of mileage under his belt will have even more meaning Sunday when he skis 60 kilometers to coincide with turning 60.

In the spirit of proving he can ski 1K for every year of his life and also to raise money for the Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center (BOEC), Dayton, who operates the Frisco and Breckenridge Nordic centers, will head up the first annual Breckebeiner 60K Sunday at the Breckenridge Nordic Center.

“I’ve never skied 60K in my life,” said Dayton, who skied 70K in an event in Austria about eight years ago and has participated in several other high-endurance European Nordic events over the years. He’s also competed in the American Birkebeiner Nordic marathon, which takes place in Wisconsin every February and is the Breckebeiner’s Midwestern counterpart.

The Breckebeiner will give individuals or teams the opportunity to race on classic or skate skis around a 6K loop and raise $1 for every kilometer they ski. All proceeds will benefit the BOEC, which Dayton founded 27 years ago. “Three years before (the inauguration of the BOEC in 1976), we started a program called Breckenridge Touring and Mountaineering School,” Dayton said. “We started working with developmentally disabled adults. We took mountaineering trips and were aware of the (disabled) program at Winter Park. The adaptive ski program didn’t begin until later.”

Since 1976, the BOEC has offered wilderness programs, leadership development and adaptive skiing and riding experiences for youth and adults with disabilities and special needs.

Nordic skiers of all abilities are encouraged to participate in the Breckebeiner. Members of the United States Nordic Combined team will participate in the event as will former team member and 2002 Olympian Matt Dayton. Event organizers hope the Breckebeiner will eventually develop a niche within the nationwide Nordic community.

“I don’t know if it will become as big as (the Birkebeiner) – that’s pretty much the largest of all cross country races in the nation,” said the BOEC’s Roch Horton, a Breckebeiner organizer. “We’re hoping this catches on. If it sticks, it would be a nice sort of annual event for everyone to look forward to.”

The Breckebeiner is virtually the last opportunity for Nordic skiers to compete this season, and organizers hope the recent snowfall, as well as the additional snow in the forecast for the weekend, will encourage participation.

“They say that Klister (a type of warm-weather Nordic wax) is German for bike season,” Horton said. “But, I don’t really know of any other Nordic race this season. I think this is it.”

“Everyone is kind of getting into their bikes this time of year,” agreed Dayton. “We’re expecting between 150 and 200 (participants). Typically, we have the best snow this time of year, so hopefully people don’t put their skis away too soon. And, all this new snow makes it even better. It’s a relatively short season for Nordic. We hope this helps keep enthusiasm up for the sport.”

Dayton figures it will take him about five hours to complete the 60K course on classic skis. The race begins at 8 a.m. Sunday, but he will get a head start at 6 a.m. Registration begins around 6:30 a.m. and is $60, or $1 per kilometer. Registration includes live music by the Kudzoos, Helmut Fricker and Those Austrian Guys, a gourmet barbecue featuring elk steak and salmon and birthday cake.

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