The Mt. Taylor Winter Quadrathlon is truly a one-of-a-kind event. 2012 marked it’s 29th year which must put it near the top of the list for a winter multi-sport event. The races staying power must be due to the enthusiasm of the race organizers and the volunteers. I have never done such a well-supported race.
The Quad is a 43 mile race to the top and back down the 11,300 ft. high Mt. Taylor, just outside of Grants, New Mexico. Mt. Taylor is 11,301 ft. high. The race constists of 4 parts; road bikes, running, cross country skiing, and snow shoeing. Bike: Racers begin at an elevation of 6,500 ft. with a 13 mile road race through the streets of Grants and then begin the 1,700 foot climb from desert cactus to ponderosa pine. Run: At the end of the paved road, bikes are parked and racers must run the next five miles on gravel roads. This year, the road started out dry but turned to snow pack about half way. This part of the course will climb 1,250 feet in elevation. Cross County Ski: Runners then turn to cross-country skis to challenge the next 1,200 foot climb of the mountaineering ski course that covers two miles. Snowshoe: The remaining one mile climb on snowshoes gains 600 feet to reach the 11,301 foot summit of Mt. Taylor where a person can see for over one hundred miles on a clear day. and then… The race is only half over. You must reverse the four events and race the 22 miles back to the Start/Finish line.
I was determined to post a good time this year, but first I had to outlast Eric Sullivan who is biking very strong and is very tough in the snow events. His crazy light ski mountaineering gear was far superior to my skate skis and skins, but I managed ok on the ups and downs, with only one spill on the downhill ski (next year no falls). My advantage was in the run and I posted some good splits based on some of my past years and was able to open up a comfortable gap. However, Eric nearly ate up my lead on the downhill bike with his energy saving time trial bike and a big motor. My choice to ride a basic road bike with no aerobars may have to be reevaluated for next year.
The race is an epic journey with every leg presenting its own challenges. The fact that you summit a massive mountain on sacred Navajo land adds to the mystique. The duration is similar to a half ironman for most people so it can be a good endurance challenge for that time of year. It will count as my single longest workout of the winter.
As challenging as the race was, the solo drive down and back was also tough on my body considering it was the end of a tough block of both training and racing. I may have dug a hole that was a little deeper than I needed to, so time will tell if it was the overload I needed or too big of a bite to chew.