Gold Rush: Organizers say it’s a stone cold rush |

Gold Rush: Organizers say it’s a stone cold rush

One of the top cross-country races in the nation returns to the area Sunday, March 21, when Royal Gorge hosts the 19th California Gold Rush.

The event is composed of four races of varying levels – the 15K Bronze Rush, the 4K Junior Rush, the 30K Silver Rush and the 50K Gold Rush.

“The Gold Rush (50K) is the ultimate in terms of pain and suffering,” said Mark Nadell of Far West, an organization whose junior program is a major beneficiary of the races.

On the other hand, Nadell said the races provide enough variety to draw even the most timid, novice skiers.

The races are freestyle, with skate and diagonal stride being allowed, but not for the first 100 meters of the mass start.

Last year, $10,000 in funds from the event went to Far West Nordic programs, which seek to improve the training for young cross-country skiers in the area.

“What Far West is about is helping juniors enter and excel at the sport,” Nadell said. “Old guys like us masters can take care of ourselves.”

The Gold Rush, expected to draw as many as 500 racers, typically attracts skiers from across the nation and the world.

“A lot of times, the Gold Rush is considered the 50K national championship race,” he said.

The first race, in 1979, drew a little more than 100 skiers.

As large as it has become, the Gold Rush almost met an untimely end several years ago when it was canceled due to conflicts with the Great Ski Race.

The Far West came in and saved it, turning it into a fund-raiser for its youth programs.

In addition to the four Sunday races, on Saturday there will be an obstacle course race called the “Gold Nuggets Race” for children 4-12 at 10:30 a.m.

At 11:30 a.m., the racing will wind down with a Fischer SuperCross, described as a “spectator-friendly race filled with jumps, bumps and other obstacles.”

This race is open to participants 4-17.

Last year, U.S. Ski Team member Justin Wadsworth took top honors in the Gold Rush.

Registration costs $25 if paid by March 15, $30 if by March 19. Junior Rush entries cost $2 anytime prior to raceday. Starting Tuesday, March 16, five-day training passes are available for $50, a discount off the normal $21.50 daily trail pass rate.

Teams of four to six racers can choose members to race in any of the four events.

Points are based on age class standing of the best four finishers.

After the races, there will be a barbecue with live music from noon to 4 p.m. at Auburn Ski Club, with awards at 2:30 p.m.

This is one of the best parts of the day, Nadell said, a tribute to Tahoe and Truckee’s excellent spring skiing conditions.

“Gold Rush offers the potential for you to finish and then take off your shirt and enjoy the sunshine,” he said. “Our spring skiing is unparalleled. That’s a lot of the reason people come out here.”

The start time is 8 a.m.

Call (530) 426-3871 for information.

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