Masses again up for Cody’s Challenge | SteamboatToday.com
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Masses again up for Cody’s Challenge

2015 Cody's Challenge results

Men

  1. Max Taam, 1:34:57
  2. Duke Barlow, 1:43:00
  3. Barkley Robinson, 1:44:39

Women

  1. Stevie Kremer, 1:49:18
  2. Jari Kirkland, 1:53:45
  3. Amy Lawton, 1:54:21

Men's short course

  1. PJ Wharton, 1:46:26
  2. Ryan Overstake, 1:56:48
  3. Bridger Carlton, 2:01:59
  4. Will Carlton, 2:01:59

Women's short course

  1. Joan Donham, 1:53:45
  2. Erin Nemec, 1:55:32
  3. Brooke Brenneman, 2:00:56

Rapid growth

Cody's Challenge has grown rapidly through the years, since it started in 2009.

2015 — 172 finishers

2014 — 157

2013 — 76

2012 — 65

2011 — 59

2010 — 56

2009 — NA

— Nothing says serious quite like spandex.

Well, maybe that’s not such a good rule for life, but it’s definitely a rule for races, and Saturday morning spandex alone helped define the seventh-annual Cody’s Challenge randonee race at Steamboat Ski Area as a big deal.

Dozens of racers in skin-tight suits slid their skis to the starting line atop Thunderhead Peak, some of the nation’s very best ski mountaineering racers. But, Cody’s Challenge has always been about more than winning, and for every mountaineering master there was a randonee rookie, and that, too, factored into the day.



A record crowd of 180 skiers and snowboarders gathered to race Saturday, fast and slow, serious and otherwise, and they couldn’t have finished happier.

Rapid growth

Cody’s Challenge has grown rapidly through the years, since it started in 2009.



2015 — 172 finishers

2014 — 157

2013 — 76

2012 — 65

2011 — 59

2010 — 56

2009 — NA

“We always thought this would be a little, local ski patrol event, and it wouldn’t be much of anything,” event organizer Corinne St. John said. “It really grabs you at the heart. This is that atmosphere we were hoping to create.

“We want this to be a signature event in Steamboat.”

Max Taam won the men’s event, finishing in 1 hour, 34 minutes and 57 seconds. It was his fourth victory in the race’s seven years and his third consecutive.

Duke Barlow was second in 1:43:00, and Steamboat Springs skier Barkley Robinson, racing the event for the first time, was third in 1:44:39.

Stevie Kremer won the women’s race in 1:49:18. Jari Kirkland was second in 1:53:45, and Steamboat’s Amy Lawton finished third in 1:54:21.

At this point, there are a series of engines that runs Cody’s Challenge and drives it to new heights of participation every spring.

There’s the spandex set, those ski racers who travel the region and get as much joy from going up on their skis as they do from going down. The race is in the Cosmic Ski Mountaineering Race series, and that’s part of the allure for those elite skiers.

Then, there’s Graham Muir and the Manic Training tribe. Muir, and those who work out in his Steamboat Spring gym, began taking on Cody’s Challenge last year, and they were back in force Saturday, providing 88 racers, nearly half of the day’s entrants.

Why?

“Because Graham says, ‘We’re all going to do this race,’” Robinson said. “Everyone listens. He’s got that kind of influence on people.”

Finally, there’s the ski patrollers, the heart and soul of Cody’s Challenge since it started, a year after its namesake, Cody St. John, died from complications following a car accident.

The race raises funds for scholarships for patrollers seeking an education in a medical field.

St. John was a patroller in Steamboat Springs, and his race was the brainchild of his sister, Corinne St. John, and Kyle Lawton, who’d raced a similar memorial event in France while participating in a ski patroller exchange program.

There’s plenty of overlap, of course.

Taam, definitely among the elite spandex group, is a patroller in Aspen, and Barlow, who finished second, patrols at Breckenridge. Lawton, meanwhile, works the hill at Steamboat Ski Area.

“It’s a good cause, and I have friends who work here,” said Bryce Hayes, a patroller from Beaver Creek who rescheduled a backcountry hut trip to make it to Steamboat. “It was a great course, a good band and a good atmosphere.”

Especially when it comes to the participation of those patrollers, Cody’s Challenge is much as it was seven years ago, when it was a new event.

Saturday, the racers and their friends and families enjoyed a barbecue in front of Slopeside Grill at the base of Steamboat Ski Area. A band played and beer flowed.

Some talked about Cody and many talked about the race.

There were high fives and congratulations passed around.

That felt old, like it always has.

Plenty was different, too.

Seven years ago, the scholarships were a plan. Now they’re a reality, and Steamboat Springs patroller Jeremy Hockley was one of six recipients this season.

There were far more people there Saturday, more than three times as many racers as in 2009, more burgers, more music, more beer and more celebration.

And, there was a lot more spandex.

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253, email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @JReich9


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