Uphill race yields familiar results
Becoming a season-ending tradition for cross country enthusiasts in the Tahoe Basin, the 11th annual Billy Dutton Uphill race returned to Squaw Valley on Sunday.
The recurring event featured 114 athletes, the competition’s biggest start to date, who raced to ascend 3.2 miles up 2,000 vertical feet from the base of KT-22 to High Camp.
When the event first started in 1989, LeVon Rassuchine, one of the event’s organizers, said that a majority of the competitors wore skis, but Sunday’s race featured about a 50/50 mix of snowshoers and cross-country skiers.
The reigning champion who, in all his three years competing in the race has never lost, was United States Olympic Nordic Ski Team member Marcus Nash, who finished with a time of 32.05, four minutes faster than his time last year.
“This race is an end of the season finale kind of thing for me,” Nash said. “My season ended at the end of March. I come and do this race and then I get a month off before I start training again. I do it because it’s fun. It’s a one-of-a-kind kind of race.”
Nash completed the race a little less than four minutes ahead of second-place finisher Tav Streit.
Peter Fain claimed his second straight win in the snow shoe division by logging a time of 37.41, bettering last year’s winning time by more than nine minutes.
“There was a guy in corduroy pants and tennis shoes and he was my main motivation,” Fain said. “I couldn’t let him beat me. I’ll tell you, though, he worked me the whole way.”
Like Bryan Hadley, the corduroy clad racer who finished second in the snowshoe division with a time of 39.41, there were a number of people who took advantage of the uncommonly shallow snow-base and hard conditions by wearing nothing more than tennis shows.
David Naughton, one of the late Billy Dutton’s nephews who competes in the event as part of a family tradition, ran with only tennis shoes and logged his fastest time ever.
“I beat my mom finally,” Naughton said, having logged a time of 47:09. “I beat a lot adults. I think it’s a little bit easier.”
The race was a fundraiser to help get cross country skiers from the area to the Junior Olympics. Rassuchine said that the event raised about $3,000 for the cause.
“It’s the last race of the season, it’s a fun race, it’s a social race and it’s a fun venue,” Rassuchine said. “Overall, it’s just a good race.”
“I think it was a wonderful race,” Betty Dutton, another event organizer and mother of Billy Dutton, said. “We had beautiful weather, a bigger and better turnout and a great bunch of people helping out. This was one of the best races.”
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For decades the snap of a baseball into a leather glove has signaled a return to warmer weather and the onset of spring in Truckee.