It’s ‘go, go, go’ at Arapahoe Enduro
ARAPAHOE BASIN – Organizers of Arapahoe Basin’s Enduro insist it’s not a race, but they admit participants usually lose some sleep the night before.
The 15th annual Enduro kicks off at 7 a.m. today at the Basin, where at least 25 teams of two will make as many runs as they can for 10 straight hours down the double-black-diamond terrain off the Pallavicini lift.
“Hyped up and sleepless is definitely the call,” said Enduro organizer Kaileen Higney, who along with teammate Jody Thompson, holds the women’s record of 63 runs, set in 2000.
“It’s an end-of-the-year bash for locals,” Higney said. “It’s a very friendly, social day. But, it’s one of the hardest things you’ll ever do.”
As Higney puts it, “the reigning queens are not doing it this year.”
She and Thompson are opting out of the event, which didn’t happen last year due to poor snow conditions.
Although morning snow conditions anywhere this time of year are notoriously challenging, there was forecasted to be a fresh layer of snow at the Basin this morning. Officials say the ski area will probably stay open at least through June.
“I know we’ll get through June,” said Doug Vincent of the A-Basin ski school. Vincent competed in the inaugural Enduro in 1988 when the event ran from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. “The big concern was, things are really icy and hard in the morning. But we’ll have some fresh snow. People can straighten out their lines a little bit. There’s all kinds of strategies. It is a serious test of your endurance. You need to figure out a way to pace yourself and still be competitive.”
Such strategy might include not stopping for anything, not even to pee. When Thompson and Higney broke the women’s record in 2000, two men’s teams – Rex Wehrman and Chris Carson and Mike Christensen and Todd Olsen – nabbed the record with 68 runs each. Higney and Thompson averaged laps of a minute-and-a-half and didn’t stop for anything at all.
“The last time I did it I was really dying,” Thompson said. “It’s a different type of skiing. You don’t ski aggressively. You use as little power as you need to use. You want to pace yourself, but still go fast.”
There are 20 different lines for teams to take from Standard to the West Alley, and after they go through the 20, they start all over again. Carson will be back in the lineup this year with teammate Drew Gibson, and a man known only as Grateful Ed from Crested Butte, will make the commute as he’s done for every Enduro since the event’s inauguration. Team names include Liquid Yoda, Two planks and a Knuckler Dragger, and Dick Danger and the Throbbing Member.
One thing is certain in the Enduro: Nobody goes through the day without suffering.
“The best part of the whole day is at 5 p.m. when it’s over,” Higney said. “To ski non-stop for 10 hours … people look at me like, “How many runs in how many hours?’ Even watching, I get so hoarse the next day. You’re screaming, “Go! Go! Go!’ all day long.”
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