Power of Four Rando Racing ‘Spectations — 2016

Post by WildSnow.com blogger | February 29, 2016      
2016 Power of Four winners John Gaston and Max Taam at the last transition, 'Gondeback' on Aspen Mountain.

2016 Power of Four winners John Gaston and Max Taam at the last transition, ‘Gondeback’ on Aspen Mountain.

We honestly do enjoy watching skimo races. The higher level the competition and the harder the course, the better. Don’t scoff until you try it. I mean watching, not skiing (though go for it if you dare, and we did do that on occasion over the years). But for your first time pick a race that asks much of the contestants. Powder Keg in Utah, any World Cup in Europe, and yes Power of Four out of Aspen. We were predicting a bit more of a battle for first place this year, what with world-class trail runners joining the fray and challenging consistent winners John Gaston and Max Taam to a duel. We are fans of Gaston and Taam, so seeing them break the course record in a diminutive 4:40 for about 25 miles and 11,600 vertical feet was nothing short of causing us to faint in admiration (just kidding John).

Scott Simmons and our super-local favorite (Cripple Creek employee) Paul Hamilton chased the leaders, finishing at 4:54:13. That was a surprising gap per our prediction of a battle, but perhaps to be expected as Gaston and Taam have deep experience with European racing as well as on their home course. More, they do practice more strategy than you would assume. Example being their using an extra set of “wide skins” for the steep icy climb up Aspen Highlands. Gaston told me that at one point they did have a battle with Simmons and Hamilton, and were gazing in astonishment at their data watches, showing an uphill pace on Highlands that was sure to blow someone up.

Second place, Paul Hamilton (foreground) and Scott Simmons at 'Gondeback.'

Second place, Paul Hamilton (foreground) and Scott Simmons at ‘Gondeback.’

Perhaps most interesting, the ultra runners were indeed in there. Rob Krar and Mike Foote came in for 3rd place at 22 minutes behind the leaders. I was actually surprised the spread was that wide. Yet the gap will narrow as the “ultra” guys get their strategy down. Perhaps next year we’ll see more of a battle at the front? Time to begin planning your ‘specatation for next year!

I asked Gaston where we should be watching the race. He suggested stationing on the downhills instead of the transitions. So, for next year, consider hanging out on Highland Bowl if you’re fit for an early morning climb, or go to the base of Congo Trail and hike up a ways to watch the fun. Or on Aspen Mountain, take a stand in the trees on the sunny side of Walsh’s Gulch then head down to the finish after the top 10 ten teams flash by.

Gaston-Taam and Simmons-Hamilton teams leaving Highlands base neck to neck.

Gaston-Taam and Simmons-Hamilton teams leaving Highlands base neck to neck. This is the second to last uphill of the contest, from what I gather, getting ahead here is crucial as the last uphill (Midnight Mine Road) is a brutal slog and cramps or bonking can easily change the finish order.

Paul and Scott earlier in the morning, during the run through Highlands Resort base area.

Paul and Scott earlier in the morning, during the run through Highlands Resort base area.

Jason Killgore and WildSnow guest blogger, Michael Arnold looking fresh as they head up the halfway point at Highlands.

Jason Killgore and WildSnow guest blogger, Michael Arnold, heading up the halfway point at Highlands.

Crossing the finish line in 4 hours 40 minutes, John Gaston and Max Taam.

Crossing the finish line in 4 hours 40 minutes, John Gaston and Max Taam.

Second place finishers, Paul Hamilton and Scott Simmons.

Second place finishers, Paul Hamilton and Scott Simmons, crossing the finish in 4 hours, 53 minutes. (Paul won the 50K Power of Four trail running race in 2015 in 5 hours 13 minutes.)

First place co-ed, Brian Tinder and Kristi Knecht.

First place co-ed, Brian Tinder and Kristi Knecht.

Top 3 women

Top women finishers, from left: 2nd place, Lyndsay Meyer, Sarah Kadlec; 1st place Stevie Kremer, Lindsay Plant; 3rd place, Elsa Lapeze, Joy Olson.

By the way, Aspen Skiing Company is embracing uphilling. Check out their web content regarding human powered skiing.


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4 Responses to “Power of Four Rando Racing ‘Spectations — 2016”

  1. Charlie Hagedorn February 29th, 2016 10:44 am

    :)! US racing is beginning to exceed the grasp of the informal amateur.

    Dual –> duel

    (Feel free to nuke / edit this comment )

  2. Lou Dawson 2 February 29th, 2016 11:02 am

    Thanks Charlie!

  3. Dano February 29th, 2016 9:20 pm

    Wow, those guys got some serious beer gut for being so fast! 😉

  4. Christian Nybø March 2nd, 2016 12:42 pm

    Michael Arnold, would you tell about your 16/17 PDG boots?
    Any lighter than current dark grey PDG?

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