The citizen race season is upon us, albeit with less opportunities due to the pandemic.
Cranmore’s Mountain Meisters, the Friday Night Lights uphill series at Black and Great Glen’s Nordic Meister series are on.
King Pine’s Pioneer Series and both the Fireball and Ted Gilbert Memorial Saloon Series at Bretton Woods are not.
Safety protocols are in place for the ongoing beer league series. Safety was generally the reason given for the series that are not.
Cranmore’s Mountain Meisters’ 10-week 50th anniversary season starts Jan. 13 with upwards of 300 racers expected on 20-plus teams.
Mountain Meisters Coordinator Kevin Hamlin is confident they can do the series in a safe way to adhere to state guidelines given the pandemic. Expected is physical distancing, booting up in the car and face masks. Zip’s Pub is open but won’t have the Meisters’ traditional apres-ski offerings.
“We have however come up with some fun and creative ways to continue to engage with our racers, like weekly virtual raffles that will (be) done through the Meister Facebook page,” he said in a release.
Cranmore (cranmore.com) Marketing Director Becca Deschenes said they’re expecting to have the same turnout as years prior.
Ski the White’s (skithewhites.com) Friday Night Lights uphill series at Black Mountain started its fourth season last week and runs through March 26. It now includes monthly Saturday nights.
“We realize that many participants work on Fridays and the timeline to make it to the event is tight as it is,” said organizer Andrew Drummond. “Saturdays are a fun way to switch things up and make the events more inclusive.”
For safety, waivers and registration are being done digitally. Face masks are mandatory and there’s no indoor congregation.
He says they know that they can host outdoor events responsibly and within the state guidelines.
“The beauty of Friday Night Lights is that everything can be held without the use of the base lodge and participants can distance themselves appropriately, he said. “There’s a need for these community events and we’re happy to get creative and provide the space for everyone to recreate.”
He expects a larger turnout with people working at home having flexible schedules.
“There also aren’t many other events happening and the turnouts have been increasing each year,” he said.
For those needing alpine touring rentals from his shop, Drummond recommends reaching out well in advance.
After a successful summer mountain bike and fall running series without incidents, Tuesday Nordic Meisters (greatglentrails.com) started Jan. 5 at Great Glen Trails and runs through March 9 (excluding Feb. 16 and March 2) for cross-country skiers, snowshoers and fat bikers.
Race against the clock in the time trial with staggered starts suited for social distancing. Safety protocols include racers bringing their own assigned bib each week instead of putting them in bins. One-time racers use paper bibs. Masks are required inside the base lodge. Once racers are registered and have their bibs or bike plates, they no longer need to come into the building, thus limited indoor contact. Prizes will be awarded each week instead of a potluck party.
According to Events Director Lisa McCoy, they may have a higher turnout because of lack of opportunities for racing, people working at home have flexible schedules and college race teams have a limited or non-existent race schedule.
She says the series is mostly about fostering a healthy lifestyle.
“Once you go for a couple of weeks, you realize how good you feel after being out on course,” she says. “It’s also fun to challenge yourself to put in a bit more effort week to week.”
Brettton Woods extinguished both of its competitions, the Fireball and Ted Gilbert Memorial Saloon Series.
“This just wasn’t the year for it,” said Marketing Director Craig Clemmer. “We’re doing this out of an abundance of caution. We didn’t want to have a bunch of non-household folks getting together in relatively tight quarters.”
King Pine’s marketing director Thomas Prindle says the ski area remains positive and looks forward to bringing back the Pioneer Race Series in 2021-’22.
“This season, for obvious reasons related to recommendations to reduce the spread of the coronavirus, we’re not scheduling events that may encourage the public (and our staff) to gather in larger groups,” he emailed. “This includes the Pioneer Race Series or other usual larger events this season we might host that would be counter intuitive to our, and the greater state and communities, efforts to minimize the spread of COVID-19.”