24 Hours of Sunlight canceled | SteamboatToday.com

24 Hours of Sunlight canceled

Glenwood resort severs ties with endurance event organizer

John Stroud/Glenwood Springs Post Independent

— Sunlight Mountain Resort is going it alone to organize a replacement 12-hour endurance ski race this winter, after breaking ties with the organizer of the popular 24 Hours of Sunlight in a dispute about nonpayment of a use fee for last February’s event.

Meanwhile, the 24-hour endurance race has been officially canceled for this winter because of the lack of a host venue and the economy, race founder and director Mary Kenyon said.

“The bottom line is they hadn’t paid us yet,” Sunlight General Manager Tom Jankovsky said Monday, adding that the resort decided about a month ago to organize its own event for this ski season.

“We did hear from the local community that people wanted to see an event continued, so we went with a 12-hour race,” Jankovsky said.

The event in which most participants skin up and ski down a set course on the mountain multiple times, either solo or as part of a relay team, will take place Feb. 28 beginning at 8 a.m. and continuing until 8 that night.

Jankovsky said Sunlight charges a $4,000 vendor fee for outside events to use the ski mountain, located 10 miles southwest of Glenwood Springs.

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“We have been sending bills (to the 24 Hours organizer) since the day of the race; we typically expect payment within 30 days,” he said.

But Kenyon, the owner of Aspen-based Real Time Marketing who, along with sponsor Granny Gear, founded the unique event four years ago, said she was operating on the belief that payment would be made upon receipt of preregistration money for February’s event.

“They have sent their typical nasty e-mails, knowing that we have always paid with the early registration monies from the next year’s race because they fall within the same fiscal year,” she said.

Kenyon said she had the same arrangement with Granny Gear, which set up the electronic timing system and compiled results for the race.

“This year wouldn’t have been any different,” she said. “So, now we are scrambling to raise that money elsewhere.”

Furthermore, Kenyon said Sunlight is “too difficult to work with” and “not good hosts for this event.”

She said she was even verbally “assaulted” by a Sunlight employee near the conclusion of last winter’s event about something that had been part of the plan all along and which the employee should have known about.

“We had been working on the race all year, meeting with mountain personnel for months and this staff member – who I have never seen before – comes out and started attacking me in front of the racers,” she said.

Jankovsky said the dispute was about the serving of free beer to the participants, which can cause conflicts with Sunlight’s liquor license.

Kenyon said Sunlight e-mailed her a month ago indicating they were hosting their own event on the date reserved for 24 Hours. That was the first she’d heard that Sunlight would not be hosting her event this year.

She said she made the final decision late last week to cancel her event for this winter.

About 250 racers participated in last year’s 24 Hours race from throughout the region and North America. The event also garnered international press, she noted.

“I feel sorry for the racers that have looked forward to doing this every year,” Kenyon said. “Many of them have contacted me and understand the situation with Sunlight.”

As for future 24 Hours races on the Western Slope, she said there is interest in it. “We will just have to wait and see.”

Some supporters of the event have suggested moving it onto public lands, which may be an option, Kenyon said.

“Some of the sponsors have also suggested other ski resorts where this would be embraced,” she said. “We do hope to keep it on the Western Slope because that’s where a lot of our participants come from. It’s a great tourism event.”

“We would have liked to work it out,” she added. “But we were constantly swimming upstream with Sunlight, and there was no way to pull it off for this year.”

Jankovsky said Sunlight’s replacement event was scaled back to 12 hours because of a lack of available overnight lodging on the weekend of the full moon in February, which is a key aspect of the race to allow for safer nighttime skiing. Participants still will be able to ski in the moonlight hours during the final couple of hours of the race, he said.