The town of Crested Butte, sitting three miles from the mountain resort that shares its name, is a quaint village with a vibrant history.

Once called "the town that wouldn't die," Crested Butte has survived many booms and busts since its founding in the late 19th century as a silver mining town. A lot of that hardscrabble mining and timber vibe still exists in the streets of Crested Butte.

The town has lovingly preserved many of the buildings and homes that date back to the late-1800s and early-1900s, and exploring the lanes and alleys that crisscross and parallel Elk Avenue, the town's main thoroughfare and heart of the historic business district, is a great diversion after a day of skiing or snowboarding.

But perhaps the best way to get a really up-close-and-personal view of the town of Crested Butte is to enter the annual Alley Loop Nordic Marathon, which this season takes place Jan. 31.

The race has a couple of "serious" elements - it's a qualifier for the American Bierkebeiner and part of the Colorado Cup series - but mostly it's a great goof and the town's largest costume party.

The unique event, which loops in and around town, has several categories and distances - from 1.5 kilometers to 42K - is open to one and all who have a predilection for cross-country skiing and a good time. Entry forms and information can be found online.