Choose Your Weapon returns to Tsalteshi Trails

On Earth Day, April 20, 2013, Mike Crawford had a vision.


Sunday, almost a full five years later, that vision finally became reality.

The vision came as Crawford organized the Earth, Wind and FATTIRE Bike Race on that Earth Day at Tsalteshi Trails.

During the race, which had 10 participants, Crawford saw the Boonstras, an area ski family of note, taking laps on what was left of the snow.

“I thought, ‘We should do this again with running and skiing,’” Crawford said Sunday.

But fate intervened.

Crawford organized a Choose Your Weapon race in mid-April for runners, bikers and skiers in both 2014 and 2015, but in both years there was not enough snow to get skiers on the course.

After organizing over 100 events in his four years on the Tsalteshi Trails Association, Crawford termed out and there was no Choose Your Weapon in 2016 and 2017.

But Sunday, the event finally returned. And this time it had snow.

Mark Beeson, president of the trails association, but a new twist on the event by making it two legs of five kilometers each.

Competitors could choose running, biking or skiing with each leg and earn time deductions for choosing a slower method of travel.

Runners got six minutes off of each lap. Skiers got three minutes off of each lap. And those who transitioned between disciplines after 5K got to take an additional two minutes off.

Crawford, who biked the first lap and ran the second, took the men’s and overall title at 28 minutes, 29 seconds. Tony Eskelin, who skied and biked, was second at 29:32, while Tyle Owens, who biked both legs, took third at 30:05.

For the women, Morgan Aldridge notched victory with a ski and a bike at 39:33. Jen Showalter stayed on the bike for the duration and finished second at 41:17, while Lauren Grippo biked and ran, and finished third at 54:49.

For Aldridge, the day was bittersweet. On one hand, she was thrilled to have all three modes of transportation available for her first Choose Your Weapon.

“I couldn’t decide what to do,” Aldridge said. “When I signed up on the internet, I checked all the boxes.”

As good as it was to have skiing available Sunday, a course broken up by mud and sloshy, ankle-deep puddles quickly made it apparent the ski season had come to an end.

“If the race had been held tomorrow, it would not have been possible to ski,” Crawford said.

Even Sunday was iffy.

“I would not ski out here again this season,” Aldridge said. “I’m going to go home, get some Clorox and wipe down my skis.”

While the event marked the end to skiing, it also served as a beginning.

“It’s a great start to triathlon training,” Crawford said.

The event also heralded the start of summer activities like biking and running on the trails, though those won’t be possible for a few weeks as the trails muddily transition from snow to firm ground.

During this time, Beeson asked trail users to not leave huge ruts, particularly in the singletrack, because those can only be repaired by hand.

Proceeds from the event went to equipment that will be used to groom the singletrack in the winter.

“I’ve come out here in snowshoes and traipsed around for six or seven hours to get it packed down,” Crawford said. “Then it snows another foot and it’s just awful.”

Machine grooming would take just over an hour.

Crawford added that it is great members of the trails association are bringing events from Tsalteshi’s past back to life, notably Choose Your Weapon and February’s Tour of Tsalteshi.

Full results were not available as the Clarion went to press.

They will be available in Tuesday’s edition.



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