The Imperial Challenge has been THE GOAL event since I can remember. A lot of locals and visitors have made the Imperial Challenge their springtime motivation to get back in-shape for summer activities. They are drawn to the Imperial Challenge because it’s a well run event with great prizes and a super low key community vibe.  The camaraderie is thick after the race as racers are all happily exhausted and can rally around the fact that they triumphed in the challenge.    

Before triathlons or ski mountaineering became hip and cool, this event was considered a little offbeat.  It was a more silly-than-serious challenge that combined three disciplines.   A racer had to RIDE a bike of some sort and model to the bottom of Peak 8 while carrying the gear they planned to use to HIKE to the top of Peak 8.  A racer could choose the gear they wanted to use to get to the top; snowshoes, cross country skis, telemark skis, running shoes and then SKI to the bottom as fast as possible.  It was not surprising to see racers in cutoff jean shorts, Hawaiian print shirt, bikinis, a tutu, summer dresses and colorful wigs. (not a lot has changed)

Over time, the event has evolved. Racers are now allowed to drop off their HIKE gear at the bottom of Peak 8 before the race instead of carrying it with them in the BIKE portion. The Retro category honors the old-school carry-your-gear way of racing and there has been some chatter about bring it back full-time.  Most, but not all, racers are choosing to go with the new super light weight Skimo gear and now a few ultra-fit racers choose to RUN to the bottom of Peak 8.

The women took the spotlight this year. The famous phrase “The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat” comes to mind, but that is probably a little dramatic.  The podium was littered with ladies who were expecting and those who were un-expectingly shocked to hear they made the podium. One age-group winner even left and came back when she heard she had won.  A ski was lost at the top, boot buckles, poles and hearts were broken, but in the end, all of these ladies were light-hearted, smiling and determined to take the Imperial Challenge again next year.

View over 380 photos from the 2015 Imperial Challenge Photos HERE.

I am considering the challenge myself.  Ready, get set and take the 2016 Imperial Challenge!

Enjoy the Climb!