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Epic Race: Episode 5, The Finale

For some it was a whim. For others it was a long-awaited chance to ski or ride in Europe. For cancer survivor Joe Jensen, it was a homecoming to the place he learned to ski. For Jess and Dave Schnoll, it was the honeymoon they'd delayed. For Krista Alvarez, the finale of the Epic Race proved to be a new beginning as her boyfriend, Kela Pinto, got down on one knee.

For all 200-plus skiers, the Epic Race was the reason, the excuse, the fill-in-the-blank, to attempt to ski (or ride) 26 resorts in four countries and to capture their memories with photos and videos at each stop along the way.

It all came down to December 20 in the French Alps. It was a misty, almost eerie morning as the skiers and snowboarders readied themselves for the finale scavenger hunt and waited in anticipation of instructions to be emailed from Vail Resorts. The email arrived filled with riddles, puzzles, and clues which set the racers in motion. (Check out the details at epicrace.epicpass.com.) Their brains spinning as quickly as their feet, the competitors dashed up gondolas and through the winding streets of Brides-les-Bains and Les Allues to the town library, skate park, and church in search of the carefully placed Epic Race insignia.

Less than an hour later, the leaders had posted their photos and videos: Sweaty smiles, whoops of joy, and hurried videos showed the distinctive locations marked by the deep blue Epic Race stickers. Later in the day, the racers gathered to celebrate the finale of their Epic Race, while across the pond, in Colorado's Rocky Mountains, at Minnesota's Afton Alps, and on the slopes overlooking Lake Tahoe, other skiers and riders were just beginning their Epic Race.

From charity work and love stories to birthday celebrations and personal accomplishment, the stories of these racers have touched us and others. And through chance meetings at the airport, shared chairlift rides, and joint dinners around a merry table halfway across the world, many of the racers have become more than just kindred skiers and snowboarders. They've become lifelong friends.

That is the spirit of the Epic Race.

Epic Racer Kela Pinto with the most epic finale for his girlfriend, Krista.

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