Race to the Top
It’s a beast of a thing, to book it straight up the side of a mountain, with little to no variation in grade that might grant one a moment of reprieve. A total of 172 competitors determined to tackle Baldy by foot, and 24 by bike, for the 38th annual Baldy Hill Climb on Saturday.
Although there were no new course records set on Saturday, the fields were competitive across the board for the 1.86 mile, 3,140 foot climb. The SVSEF Cross Country Gold Team swept the podium in the men’s race division, which had a field of 59 competitors. Newcomer Jack Hegman hammered to the top of Baldy to take the win in a time of 35:31. He was 27 seconds off the record of 35:04, set by former SVSEF Gold Team cross country skier Miles Havlick in 2004. Teammate Rogan Brown was in second with a time of 35:55, and Matt Gelso rounded out the podium with a time of 36:05.
In the women’s field of 38 racers, SVSEF skier Mary Rose claimed the overall title with a time of 44:13. Rose is a repeat champ, having last won the race in 2014. Second-year Gold Team skier Deedra Irwin was the second woman to finish, with a time of 46:01. SVSEF Cross Country Comp Team coach, Kristen Monahan, took a break from her normal role to jump into the fray; Monahan had a strong showing with a third place finish in 46:46. Gold Team skiers Kelsey Phinney and Annie Pokorny finished fourth and fifth in 47:34 and 48:17, respectively.
The Cheeso Double had an impressive showing this year with 18 racers opting to hoof it to the top twice. Racers competed in the bike race first, which wound up the Cold Springs trail, took a momentary breath on the chairlift, and then ascended the mountain again on foot in the race category. Sawyer Kesselheim won the men’s Cheeso Double in a combined time of 1:44:49. Second was Eric Chizum (1:47:32), and Bill Nurge was third (1:51:48). Naty Nurge took the win in the women’s event with a combined time of 2:21:21; she was followed by Isabella Smith in second (2:33:19), and Muffy Ritz in third (2:35:55).
There were some repeats in bike podiums from the Cheeso Double; Eric Chizum won the men’s race (1:05:38) and Sawyer Kesselheim was second (1:05:43). SVSEF alum Reid Pletcher crossed the line in third (1:08:44). Naty Nurge won the women’s bike division (1:26:09), Muffy Ritz cruised to second (1:32:58), and Isabella Smith finished third (1:34:17).
A big thanks to our sponsors – Sun Valley Resort, Sturtevants, The Elephant’s Perch, Backwoods Mountain Sports, Sun Summit, Durance Cycleworks, Salomon, Perry’s Restaurant, Apple’s Bar & Grill, Johnny G’s Subshack and Lefty’s Bar & Grill, and to our volunteers; we couldn’t put on this event without your help and generosity.