Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Gore Mountain Leaf Cruncher 5K: 09/21/2014

Gore Mountain Leaf Cruncher trail 5k, Sunday 09/21/2014.

The Saratoga Skier and Hiker, first-hand accounts of adventures in the Adirondacks and beyond, and Gore Mountain ski blog.

Not too many leaves got crunched in Sunday’s Leaf Cruncher 5k trail race at Gore as there’s just a bit of color and so far all the leaves are still on the trees. And with temperatures in the low 70s, fall seemed pretty far away.

The course was altered this year to eliminate some of the more difficult trail segments, substituting a long lap through the parking lots past lift towers and other components staged for the new Adirondack Express II high speed quad chairlift. As a result of the easier course, I took more than two minutes off my time from last year.

More like late summer than fall

Race registration includes a scenic gondola ride

The first part of the course – through the parking lots and then down the Cedars connector trail – is flat to downhill. I knew the leaders went out fast, but when I went through the 1-mile mark at 6:45 and couldn’t even see the 3 guys ahead of me, I knew a top 3 finish for me was out of the question.

Like last year, only about 2 dozen runners competed. As luck would have it, the fastest runners were all in my “old guy” division (results here). So even though I came in 5th overall, I was 4 back in my division (the first place woman also came in ahead of me).

Beth coming out of the woods near the finish

Me on the "non-trail" part of the course

Also like last year, Gore provided a bunch of nice prizes. Beth came in first in her division and won a lift ticket for this winter. It’s too bad this race isn’t more popular – it’s fun, well supported, and the awards are great. I’d like to see the course return to a version similar to last year’s race (more trails, eliminate the parking lot lap), but I guess I can understand Gore wanting to show off the new chairlift.

As a skier, it seems odd - but fun - to ride the gondi when there's no snow

Gore's summit from the top of the gondi

Pete Gay Mountain from the Fairview trail

Everyone who ran the race received a pass for a scenic gondola ride, so of course we rode up to the top of Bear Mountain and walked around a bit to see what the summit looks like without snow. There’s a bit more color at the higher elevations, but peak foliage is probably 1 to 2 weeks away.

The AE2 top terminal, staged behind the lodge

AE2 tower components, staged in the parking lot

Chair frames for the new AE2

It was cool seeing the progress on the new Adirondack Express II high speed quad. The new lift will be faster and smoother than the 30+ year old old high speed triple chair that it is replacing. As of race day it appears most of the tower foundations are in place and the terminal foundations are being prepared. Lift towers will be flown into place later this fall, and the lift should debut sometime early in the 2014-15 winter season. I know one guy who’s gonna be fighting for first chair!

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