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61 Runs Down Arapahoe — In 1 Day

Last week — as many Westporters headed to warm climates, and the ones who were here welcomed spring — Jim Goodrich headed west to ski country. He was there to watch the amazing, incredible — well, let Jim tell the story.

Arapahoe Basin (aka “A Basin”) is one of the oldest and highest ski areas in Colorado. It is also a place that is glitz-free, geared to hard-core skiing.

Since 1989, A Basin has run a unique charity ski race that is tough, inspirational, heartfelt and has room for humor.  “The Enduro” lasts for 10 straight hours, beginning at 7 a.m. and ending at 5 p.m.  This year’s race was run last Wednesday (April 17) during Colorado’s biggest snowfall of the season. Temperatures were in the single digits.

33 teams of 2 each line up parallel to the chair lift, with their equipment 20 yards in front. On a signal they run to their skis or snow boards in a “Le Mans” start, then dash to get on the lift.

The start of Le Mans — er, Enduro.

Team members had to ride the lift together after each “lap” — up and down the mountain — and at the end of the race had to check in with officials before the clock ran out.

My wife (Luisa Francoeur) and I were there to watch her son and my stepson, Andrew McWilliams (Staples Class of 2002, and now the accounting auditor at A Basin) compete with a teammate. We were Andrew’s “pit crew,” getting food and water to them as they blasted back to the lift to begin each lap.

Andrew and Kyle finished 61 laps. With a total vertical of more than 70,000 feet (that’s twice from the summit of Mt. Everest down to sea level), they had a good day. Not quite as good as 2 professionals on the ski racing circuit or Andrew’s housemate who is on ski patrol, but something to be happy about.

Jim Goodrich and Andrew McWilliams.

Even the teams that were “in it for fun” did well. 2 nurses from Denver  laughed the whole time, and were distinguished by skiwear that included tutus.

At the celebratory dinner and silent auction, the money raised was announced and gratefully accepted by the recipient: a young mother who recently had a cancerous tumor removed from her brain.

The fun of the day stood in stark contrast to the anguish in Boston.  But it made sense, as people came together to help a young family through difficult times.

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