Breaking into the Boy's Club

Monday, March 28, 2011

The EMGT podium is an elite boy's club. A quick look at the results from the past ten years reveals many of the same names; Mike Kloser, Pat O'Neill, Jimmy Faust, Bryan Wickenhauser and Pierre Wille to name a few. I'm proud to say that this weekend not one, but two women's names will be added to that list.

I'll spare you the 40-mile race blow-by-blow but here's a quick recap. It snowed all day Friday before the midnight start in Crested Butte so fresh snow on the course was a major factor throughout the race. My partner Pete Gaston, a 24-year-old Aspen young gun who works as a guide for Aspen Expeditions, and I were with a group of about 20 teams in the lead pack for the first 15 miles until the Friends Hut. From there, the field quickly thinned out until we found ourselves climbing up to Taylor Pass with just Ethan Passant and Travis Scheefer, Teague Holmes and Brad LaRochelle.

For the next 15 miles, our group took turns breaking trail through some pretty deep snow and I took a bunch of long pulls out in front. On a few occasions I even had to guilt the boys to take their fair turns. When we left the Barnard Hut as a group of six, I knew that the next coed team of Stevie Kremer and Marshall Thompson were only a few minutes back. Despite being pretty worked, I continued to push the pace in hopes of holding them off. With only few miles left to skin before the final descent down Aspen Mountain, one of my skins kept falling off. As I dug in my pack for a fresh skin, Stevie and Marshall passed me. We gave it everything we had left but Pete and I could not close the gap. We finished 50 seconds behind Stevie and Marshall and two and a half minutes behind Ethan and Travis as the third place overall team and the second place coed team.

I can't help but wonder if I hadn't broken trail for so long if I would have been a little stronger at the finish, but no matter what I'm pleased with my performance and I'm proud that both Stevie and I broke the gender barrier at the EGMT.

The Aspen Times wrote a nice recap of the race here.

A quick note about my gear...there's probably no greater test of backcountry gear than the EMGT. Overall, my set-up performed beautifully, but there were a couple of standouts. First of all, I wore an awesome new jacket from Patagonia called the Knifeblade. It's a minimalistic, anorak-style jacket made from Polartec Power Shield Pro - essentially a lightweight pullover softshell. While I watched almost everyone in the race shed layers on the climbs and then layer up for the descents, I never took the Knifeblade off. It kept me warm and completely dry while it snowed for the first few hours of the race, but breathed well enough so I didn't overheat once the sun finally came out. Full disclosure - I'm on the Polartec Athlete Advisory Board - but this truly was the best aerobic outerlayer I've ever tried.

Another truly impressive bit of gear for this race were my gloves. My friend Doug Heinrich, the glove product director at Black Diamond, sent me a pair of Impulse gloves to try and they were awesome. I wore them the entire race and my hands never got too hot nor cold.

Last but not least, my boots and skis from La Sportiva continued to kick ass. Over 38 miles of racing for 9+ hours and I only had one little blister on my pinky toe.

Here are some more photos from the race (a couple borrowed graciously from Mike Trecker - thanks for cheering us on up there, Mike). Thanks for reading!

Travis Scheefer & Ethan Passant congratulate each other on their win

Marshall towing Stevie a mile or so before they passed us

The best way to finish a race is with Ian and the kids at the finish line


Here's my GPS data from the course (I couldn't get Garmin Connect to work so I had to use Ian's Strava account).

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