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July 19, 2023 3 min read

Here in the Gunnison Valley, it’s only a matter of weeks between epic races, trail runs, and celebrations that are just for the fun of it. (Chainless World Championships or the Ally Loop, anyone?)

These events draw visitors from all around the world, but few are as physically challenging or have quite the same reputation as the  Grand Traverse. Originally established in the 1990s as a point-to-point skimo race connecting Crested Butte and Aspen, it is now a twice-annual event with a trail runand mountain bike option on consecutive days in late summer.

The course depends on the sport. Runners are routed from Crested Butte to Aspen, and mountain bikers the opposite way the following day; meaning a handful of athletes elect to tackle both. Either way, athletes will travel 40 miles and climb between 6,000 and 8,000 feet over the top of the Elk Mountains, ultimately dropping into a mountain town finish line amidst a plethora of cheering fans.  

We caught up with the Grand Traverse race director, Becky Nation of  Crested Butte Nordic, to find out more about the event’s history and future—including the best way to participate in the fun this year and beyond. 

 Photo by Xavi Fane


The Grand Traverse is best known as a winter ski event. Can you tell us a little bit about its history—and future?

The Grand Traverse Mountain Run & Bike was created in 2014. In 2015 the Dual Sport and Triple Crown titles were created to encourage athletes to test their multisport capabilities. The Summer GT usually sells out in the spring and has an extensive waitlist. It's growing in popularity as endurance races grow, especially in the mountains. We're excited to continue to make this event the best it can be! 


The GT is notorious for taking some of the top athletes by surprise. What makes this race so challenging (and therefore rewarding)?

The altitude and weather conditions catch a lot of athletes by surprise. In longer races, you never know how you're going to feel, and those two elements add to the fun.

 Photo by Petar Dopchev


Hikers have long been making the journey from Aspen to Crested Butte via the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness. What do you think is so alluring about this collaborative mountain town race format?

There is no other race like this in the US. It is the ultimate test of the backcountry athlete. It's fun to truly be in the backcountry all the way from the start to the finish. There's also so much history behind the race. The summer formats make the race a little more accessible for people who haven't crossed over into winter endurance sports.  


What are your top recommendations for athletes to do once they arrive in Crested Butte? 

Hydrate with electrolytes! Most participants do not live at altitude. The dry air and high elevation deplete their electrolyte stores even before the start of the race, causing lots of bonks.

 Photo by Petar Dopchev

What would you tell someone who is considering the race for next year?

Practice with shorter trail races before attempting the GT. Make sure you have a solid nutrition plan, and hydrate! And, of course, enjoy the journey.


And for those who would rather kick back with a beer and cheer on the athletes, is it possible to spectate?

The start and finish lines are always the best places to spectate. Bring the party! Due to the backcountry nature of these races, the course is inaccessible; we discourage spectators from driving to sections of the course.

Inspired to test your mettle next year? Learn more about the Grand Traverse and how to register  here, or follow along with the fun on Crested Butte Nordic’s  Instagram account. We would love to see you in the shop before or after the race!