We’ve got snow! And what better way make life in the white stuff more interesting than to throw down a finish line in the fluff? 

The North American Vasa Festival of Races is back this year Feb. 8-9, 2020, when 750 skiers, bikers and snowshoers will converge on our area’s much-loved VASA Trail.

There are races for all kinds of outdoor nuts – ski, fat bike, snowshoe—and all kinds of skill levels. Freestyle ski or classic ski. Long (50k) or short (6k) races, with every length in between. Individual, team and junior races. Plus categories for kids or adults; pros or newbies.

Oh, and The Triple Threat.

More on that later.

All in all, it’s the perfect set-up for a perfect weekend of all ages and skill levels in Traverse City’s winter charm.

Here’s what’s new in 2020 for the Vasa races:

The Vasasaurus Stomp

Sunday at the Vasa just went up a notch. Up 6-8km to be exact. The snowshoe race, craftily named the "Vasasaurus Stomp," will cross mostly ungroomed snow, and without a doubt, be family friendly and fun. The nice thing about snowshoeing is that the falls are slow-mo! (The bad thing about snowshoeing is that sometimes everything is slow-mo!)

Fat Bike Fun

The King Vasa Fatbike Races will feature a 42km race (Short’s Grand Fat) and an 13km race (Short’s-N-Fat). These races are part of the Short's Brewing Fat Bike Series. For 2020, the course will be a new, improved version of last year, with the 13km racers having its own separate course. Get out the fatties and enjoy!

Winter bike race

Combo Races

The Michigan Cup Challenge races will now include the 25km freestyle ski race on Saturday (instead of the 50km race), and the 17km classic ski race on Sunday.

The SkiFatalon will be a team event this year. One does the 25km freestyle ski race, and the other tackles the 42km Grand Fat bike race. And, yes, you can be your own team if you choose not to enlist a co-conspirator.

And… that triple threat we were telling you about.

Everyone blames Dan Novak for this one. Novak, a local sports (over)enthusiast, challenged himself to do all three marathons of the North American Vasa in 2017: the 50km freestyle ski marathon, the 42km Grand Fat Bike race, and the 35km classic ski race. And he did it! In 2018, it became an official race category. And after three successful Triple Threats, Dan promises to be back for a 4th this year. He’s hoping for some competition this time. Could you be the one?

Finally… the end game and the perfect spot for spectators and spent athletes to rejoice in winter. 

The Celebration Zone

Timber Ridge Resort will be home to the cozy “Event Tent,” where all the outdoor gurus can enjoy a selection of craft beers from Shorts Brewing Company, goodies from Cherry Republic and Great Lakes Potato Chips, along with hearty, hot soups from Blue Tractor, North Peak and Jolly Pumpkin.

This kind of finish line is a win-win for everyone.

VASA Festival of Races

P.S. Here’s a little LOL from the long, storied history of the race:

The event didn’t always take place at the Vasa Trail and it didn’t always end! In 1984, the ski race was scheduled to finish in downtown Traverse City, but only 828 of the 1300 skiers were able to finish. The rest were halted just short of the finish when a thaw left Boardman Lake uncrossable. This ended the downtown finish idea once and for all. The 1984 race became known as the “Slush Bowl of ’84.”

Learn more and register here.

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