Are you an endurance athlete who lives in a snowy climate? Or are you just looking for your next gnarly adventure? Here are a dozen rugged snow-themed endurance events to challenge your mettle this winter or next. Most of them include running and a whole lot more!
Aria Athletic Club & Spa Winter Triathlon, Jan. 23, 2016, Leadville, Colo.
Held in mid-January in Leadville, Colo., the Aria Athletic Club & Spa Winter Triathlon includes a 5K snowshoe run, a 10K mountain bike ride on snowy roads and a 8K skate ski—all above 10,200 feet above sea level. Info: pedalpowerbike.com; Photo: Aria Athletic Club & Spa Winter Triathlon
Power of Four Ski Mountaineering Race, Feb. 26, 2016, Aspen, Colo.
Aspen, Colo., might be known as a glitzy ski town, but this 25-mile ski mountaineering race is as gritty and rugged as can be. Competitors start at Snowmass ski area and ski, hike and skin their way to three other ski areas—Buttermilk, Aspen Highlands and Aspen Mountain—by way of backcountry passage that includes 12,000 feet of vertical gain—before finishing 4 to 8 hours later in that poshly appointed ski town. (There's also a 15-mile recreational race with 8,000 feet of vertical gain, but it's not a walk in the park, either.) Info: aspensnowmass.com; Photo: Jeremy Swanson/Aspen-Snowmass
Mt. Taylor Winter Quadrathlon, Feb. 13, 2016, Grants, N.M.
Held in mid-February, the Mt. Taylor Winter Quadrathlon in Grants, N.M., is a 44-mile multisport race for individuals, pairs and teams that includes 13 miles of cycling, 5 miles of running, 2 miles of cross country skiing and 1 mile of snowshoeing to the top of 11,301 Mt. Taylor, followed by the same distances and disciplines in reverse order back to the start. The race celebrated its 32nd annual event in 2015 with Logan Ott of Mancos, Colo., winning the men's divison and Michelle Hummel of Albuquerque, N.M., taking the women's title. Info: mttaylorquad.org; Photo: Mt. Taylor Winter Quadrathlon
American Birkebeiner Ski Race, Feb. 20, 2016, Cable to Hayward, Wis.
The American Birkebeiner, aka "The Birkie", is the largest and one of the longest cross country ski races in North America. Every year more than 10,000 skiers race on Nordic skis more than 30 miles (officially 50K freestyle and 54K classical) between Cable and Hayward, Wis. The Birkie, started by Wisconsin ski area owner Tony Wise in 1973, was named after the Norwegian Birkebeinerrennet, a race that commemorates a battle in the year 1206 in which Birkebeiner soldiers fought for Sverre Sigurdsson and his descendants in the Norwegian civil war. Info: birkie.com; Photo: American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation
Chena River to Ridge Race, Feb. 27, 2016, Chena Hot Springs, Alaska
With both 25- and 45-mile options, the Chena River to Ridge Race takes runners, bikers and skiers around maintained snowmachine trails in the Chena River Recreation Area about 30 miles east of Fairbanks, Alaska. Info:cr2r.endurancenorth.org; Photo: J Homer/Chena River 2 Ridge
U.S. Ski Mountaineering National Championships, Feb. 12-14, Crested Butte, Colo.
Although very popular in Europe, ski mountaineering is just starting to take off in the U.S. There are about a dozen races in the West, including the Gore-Tex U.S. Ski Mountaineering Championships, held this year on Feb. 12-14 in Crested Butte, Colo. Ski mountaineering sends skiers skinning and hiking up and skiing down mountains on a course ranging from 5K to 50K. Info: ElkMountainEvents.com; Photo: Kevin Krill/Crested Butte Photography
Beaver Creek Snowshoe Running Series, Jan. 31/Feb. 28, Beaver Creek Resort, Avon, Colo.
The Beaver Creek Snowshoe Running Series in Avon, Colo., includes three of the largest and most competitive snowshoe races in the U.S. Plus, the races are at or above 10,000 feet above sea level, where the air is thin. The series finale is slated for Feb. 28. Info: beavercreek.com/events-and-activities/snowshoe-series.aspx; Photo: Beaver Creek Snowshoe Adventure Series
U.S. National Snowshoe Championships, Feb. 26-28, Ogden, Utah
Now in 15th year, the Dion Snowshoes U.S. National Snowshoe Championships is the culmination of more than 30 regional qualifying races throughout the U.S. Pictured here is Mountain View Calif., resident, Nick Scalfone, a qualifier for this year's championships which will be held Feb. 26-Feb. 28 in Ogden, Utah. Info: snowshoeracing.com; Photo: Steve Sanders
Iditarod Trail Invitational, Feb. 28, 2016, Knik Lake, Alaska
With distances of 130, 350 and 1,000 miles, the Iditarod Trail Invitational serves up the world's longest winter races for cyclists, skiers and runners. The snowy course follows the historic Iditarod Trail from Knik, Alaska, over the Alaska Range to the small settlement of McGrath, and, for those who endeavor to complete the entire route, all the way to Nome. Info: iditarodtrailinvitational.com; Photo: Iditarod Trail Invitational
Steamboat Pentathlon, March 5, 2016, Steamboat Springs, Colo.
This unique, 24-mile multisport race for individuals and teams in Steamboat Springs, Colo., starts with competitors charging 400 vertical feet up a ski slope, then strapping into skis or a snowboard to slide back down to the bottom of the hill. From there, competitors tackle 2.5 miles of snowshoeing, 4 miles of cross country skiing, 12 miles of mountain biking and 5 miles running. This year's 23rd annual race will be held on March 8. Info: steamboatpentathlon.com; Photo: Steamboat Pentathlon
Pole, Pedal, Paddle, March 26, Jackson, Wyo.
The Pole Pedal Paddle is a tradition in Jackson Hole, held this year on the 2nd to last Saturday of skiing at the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. The four-event race, where contestants compete either individually or in teams, consists of an alpine ski leg, a cross-country ski leg, a bicycle leg, and a boating leg. The Pole Pedal Paddle is a fundraising event for the Jackson Hole Ski & Snowboard Club, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing affordable. Photo: Pole, Pedal, Paddle Facebook
Ski to Sea Race, May 29, 2016, Mt. Baker to Bellingham, Wash.
OK, this isn't a winter event, but it does involve snow. Held in late May, the historic Ski to Sea Race is a seven-sport relay race that covers 90 miles from Mt. Baker to Bellingham, Wash. Events include cross country skiing, downhill skiing or snowboarding, running, cycling, canoeing mountain biking and kayaking. The event dates back to 1973 but also draws inspiration from the Mt. Baker Marathon from the early 20th century. Info: skitoski.com; Photo: Sea to Ski Race