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5 The Start Meltdown
Vermont athletes take the front row in witnessing climate change.
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Pavel Cenkl ran 360 kilometers in the Arctic to promote climate resilience. And here's why he wants you to run with him.
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VERMONT’S ATHLETES TAKE THE FRONT ROW IN WITNESSING CLIMATE CHANGE. 2012 - 2017
In Scandinavia, Pavel Cenkl's Climate Change run was thwarted by rising waters.
n Sunday, January 7, 2018 Burlington set a record. For the first time in measured history, temperatures reached -20 degrees Fahrenheit on that day. For those of us who are used to sub-zero, that might not seem remarkable. What was shocking was that five days later, on Friday, January 12, it was 61 degrees. Think about it: If that five-day, 81-degree temperature swing happened at any other time of year—say temperatures went from 20 degrees to 101, or 40 degrees to 121—this seismic change might have made headlines. Instead, Vermonters hunkered down, bundled up and shrugged off both extremes. Hey, it’s January, right? Well, not all Vermonters. A group of endurance athletes, members of Andy Weinberg’s Endurance Society, had planned for January 6 to be the day to hike the Great Range. The trail is a one-day, 24-mile route across summits in the Adirondacks with an elevation gain of 10,000 feet. Backpacker Magazine has called the Great Range Trail “possibly the hardest classic dayhike in the East.” Weinberg helped found the Spartan Death Race, has done hundreds of ultra races, even a quintuple Ironman triathlon. And he is experienced in wilderness travel. He assembled a hand-picked elite group, including Lance Parker, 22, the 2017 winner of the 888-kilometer ultra race, Infinitus that the Endurance Society hosts in Goshen. The morning of the hike, temperatures were -15 degrees F. The forecast called for windchill temperatures to go as low as -60 degrees F. Some people challenge themselves by climbing Everest, others by paddling class V rapids, others by freeclimbing. All are dangerous, no matter your skill level. This was a test of different limits. Was the group smart to set out? Smarter to turn around? Both are questions we don't try to answer. We published this account because there are lessons here about both what to do (travel with a group, have safety plans, know your limits) and what not to do. This issue also has the story of another hike that was impacted by a changing climate. Sterling College professor Pavel
Photo courtesy Pavl Cenkl
Cenkl completed his second “Climate Change Run” last August, running and camping along The Arctic Trail in Scandinavia. He too encountered weather that was extreme for the season: unusually high rivers and flooding, caused by melting snowfields late in the season. More than just bizarre weather, these swings are symptoms of increasing climate instability. As Emma Cotton writes in “Running for Resilience,” her story about Cenkl’s run, Vermont’s climate is 1.3 degrees warmer than it was in 1960. Perhaps of greater import is the fact that winter temperatures are rising twice as fast as summer ones. At the current rate of climate change, scientists predict that in 50 years we will no longer see snow covering the ground for much of the winter. As athletes, these changes will continue to impact our lives, perhaps long before the rest of the population notices. The incidence of Lyme disease, carried by ticks once vulnerable to Vermont’s cold winters, is four times what it was ten years ago. Each decade sees 7 fewer days of frozen lakes. Cenkl hopes to inspire athletes and others to build a community of resilience around climate change. In Vermont, we are already trying to adapt. In the last few years, Killington Resort has built out a mountain bike trail network nearly as impressive as its ski trails. Mount Snow is close to its goal of snowmaking on 100 percent of its trails and other ski resorts are following suit. Work is being done to clean up Lake Champlain where warming temperatures have accelerated the blue green algae blooms that have begun choking the shallow bays. There are things we can do to help: commute by bike or carpool, use renewable power, turn down the theromstats, avoid using herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers on lawns. Most of us know these things, but as athletes who now watch the snow melt faster, the rivers run higher, and the temperatures swing faster and harder, we should be the first to sound the call to action. —Lisa Lynn, Editor
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GREAT OUTDOORS Vermont's Elaine Campbell sends it on the Skookumchuck wave in British Colombia. "The wave is just epic," she says. "I look forward to it every year." Photo courtesy Elaine Campbell
SPAWNING GROUNDS VERMONT’S SWOLLEN SPRING RIVERS HAVE GIVEN BIRTH TO SOME THE WORLD’S BEST KAYAKERS. HERE’S HOW YOU CAN GET AFTER IT, TOO. BY EMMA COTTON
s soon as the snow starts to melt, Elaine Campbell heads for the Deerfield River. Her home in Readsboro, Vt., is a fiveminute drive from the class IV and V rapids that she now knows like the back of her hand. “I know it can smack me down at any moment, but I just feel so comfortable when I’m running it,” she says of the Deerfield.
Campbell has loved whitewater ever since her family took trips from her home in Massachusetts to raft the Sacandaga River near Lake George, New York. For her 22nd birthday, her brother bought her a ticket to an outdoor workshop and asked her to choose between rock climbing and whitewater kayaking. "I was like, I wanna learn how to kayak!” she says. “That was it. I just kind
of fell in love with it. I met my husband the first weekend on the river, and it turned into this crazy thing.” Flash forward 16 years: Campbell now competes in freestyle kayaking, river running, stand-up paddleboarding, squirt boating, boater cross, slalom and rafting. She’s earned spots on the U.S. Freestyle Kayak Team four times, and in 2013, was on the U.S. Wild Water
Sprint Team and the freestyle team in the same year. Later this spring, she will load her dog, cat and husband into an RV and tour the continent to compete in national tournaments and find new playholes—often in places like California and British Columbia. But the Deerfield remains one of her favorite spots. Her preferred discipline is freestyle,
MARCH/APRIL 2018 | VTSPORTS.COM 7
River and the Mississquoi all boast class IV and V rapids in the spring as the water runs high. For intermediate whitewater, you’ve got the Mad River, the upper branch of the Lamoille, the Green River, and the White River. Really, if you’re paying attention and there’s some rain or snowmelt in the
forecast, you can find good whitewater in Vermont just about anywhere. “When people ask, ‘Where you been skiing?’ nine times out of ten, I’ll say, ‘Wherever I’m pointing my skis,’” McCall says. “People say, ‘Where do you go boating?’ And I say ‘Wherever there’s water in the river.’”
WHERE'S THE WHITEWATER? IF YOU WANT TO WATCH SOME OF THE NORTHEAST'S BEST PADDLERS IN ACTION—OR JUMP IN YOURSELF—HERE’S WHERE TO DO IT: Campbell has earned spots on national kayaking teams five times.
a kind of next-level whitewater kayaking that involves flips and twists that can make any new spectator whiteknuckled. Right now, she’s trying to master a stunt called the tricky-woo. “It’s a split-wheel, so you make the bow of your kayak vertical and then you do a 180-degree twist on your stern, and then you spin the boat on your stern another 180-degrees in the other direction, and then you slam the bow back down,” she says. “It’s a very technical trick. I always get glimpses of being able to do it, and then I don’t. Not many females can do it.” In the winter, Campbell works at Timber Creek Cross Country Center in West Dover, Vt., instructing and managing retail. But she gets out on the water whenever she can. By midFebruary this year, she had already been paddling twice. “When I’m home, I train freestyle on the West River,” she says. “In Dummerston, there’s a spot that we call Dummerchuck. It’s a really awesome playhole. I’ve learned a lot at that spot. It’s about 40 minutes from my house, and I go there whenever it’s running.” Campbell isn’t the only accomplished paddler from Vermont. Many worldclass kayakers got their start on Vermont’s narrow and technical rivers. Ryan McCall, organizer of the New Haven Ledges Race—which turns 10 years old this year—sees many of the best on the Ledges every season. “A lot of guys got their bananas together here,” he says. Among them, he mentions locals Calef Letorney, a freestyle kayaker who won the 2001 Junior Freestyle World Championships and now works as a paragliding instructor in Westford, Vt. There’s Justin Beckwith, a former Nordic coach for the Green Mountain Valley School in Waitsfield,
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Photo courtesy Elaine Campbell
who repeatedly wins the New Haven Ledges Race. And Montpelier’s Hugh Pritchard, also a regular champion at the Ledges Race, was on Great Britain’s junior canoe slalom team—and went to the Olympics for biathlon in 2002. Then there are the greats. The Kern Brothers, Willie, Johnnie and Chuck— some of the world’s best whitewater kayakers—grew up in Stowe. “They honed their skills here,” McCall says. “There are very few rivers in Vermont that weren’t paddled by the Kern brothers.” Willie and Johnnie, twins, are still at it and living out West, though Chuck Kern died while paddling with his brothers on the Gunnison River in Colorado in 1997. In 2004, Willie and Johnnie were part of an expedition that paddled the legendary first run down the Tsangpo in Tibet—known to be one of the most difficult rivers in the world— winning them international acclaim. So what is it about Vermont rivers that has made so many paddlers so good? Like the tree skiing in Vermont, the rivers are technical. “There’s nothing super dangerous or hard about tree-skiing in Vermont,” McCall says, “but the trees are stupid tight. It’s the same with boating. Our rivers are low-volume, and they’re relatively safe, kind of like the skiing around here. You’re not on a giant, several-thousand cfs (cubic feet per second) river. It’s different. It will challenge you, it will definitely catch you off-guard, but it’s like the skiing here— it’s really good.” Once you’ve graduated from the beginner rivers (of which there are many), there’s still plenty to do. The Big Branch River in Mt. Tabor, near Rutland, the Middlebury Gorge, the Gihon River, the New Haven, the Wells River, West
EVENTS New Haven Ledges Race | Bristol, April 14 Celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Ledges race, which began as an official way to earn bragging rights among friends. The classic run gives you 1.3 miles of boulder gardens, slides, waterfalls and class IV whitewater running alongside Lincoln Road. Kayakers navigate a 15-foot drop called “The Toaster,” then slap a nearby buoy to stop the clock. facebook.com/NewHavenRace Riverfest | Wells River, Newbury, April 19-22 Dartmouth College’s Ledyard Canoe Club hosts a weekend of events, including the Mascoma Slalom (the oldest consecutively run slalom event in the country) and the Wells River Rumble (a mass-start, one-mile, down-river race that includes a class IV rapid). ledyardcanoeclub.or Fiddlehead Slalom | Winooski River, Montpelier, May 13 Slalom through suspended gates on the Winooski River’s class II and higher rapids in this event, which is part of the New England Slalom Series. Get a feel for the course by helping to hang gates from wires above the river the day before the race. nessrace.com Onion River Race and Ramble | Winooski, Bolton, June 3 Canoe or kayak through the Greens in Vermont’s largest river race, starting at Bolton and heading down the Winooski River. winooskiriver.org BrattlePaddle Canoe & Kayak Races | Brattleboro, June 24 This race, which begins in Brattleboro, Vt., takes place in the West and Connecticut Rivers. Race 9 miles or take a 3.5-mile leisurely paddle on a canoe, kayak or SUP on a recreational route. neckra.org
RELEASES West River | Jamaica State Park, Jamaica, Vt. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers schedules regular controlled water releases from the Ball Mountain Dam. This year, there will be two releases: on May 5-6 and September 22-23, paddlers can enjoy class II-IV rapids on the West River. vtstateparks.com/jamaica Deerfield River | #5 Station Dam, Monroe, Mass. About a mile south of the Vermont-Mass border, the Deerfield flows between 900 cfs and 2,000 cfs. Releases are scheduled for May 26-27, June 10, 16-17, 24 and 29-30. zoaroutdoor.com Fife Brook | North Adams, Mass. The Deerfield's Fife Book section ranges from 700 cfs to 2000 cfs, at which point it becomes class III-IV. Scheduled releases are: March 25, Wednesdays through Saturdays in April; May 12-13, 18-20, 23-27, 30-31. Releases take place from 9:30 a.m.-12 p.m. zoaroutdoor.com
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The Great Range trail crosses the summits of some of the Adirondack's highest peaks, inclucing Gothics, Saddleback, Basin, Haystack, Mount Marcy (shown here) Photo by Carl Heilman II
Facing Extremes Fac
ON THE COLDEST WEEKEND OF THE WINTER, MEMBERS OF THE ENDURANCE SOCIETY SET OUT TO HIKE THE ADIRONDACK'S HIGH PEAKS. WAS IT EXTREME? OR JUST "EXTREMUS"? THREE PARTICIPANTS TELL THE STORY. BY LANCE PARKER TREK REPORT BY ANDY WEINBERG AND ERICA SIMISTER
n the winter, especially on days like January 6, 2018, those at the highest risk of exposure are those who are looking out for others. I had led the charge to treeline on Mount Marcy in the Adirondacks as eight members of our group, The Endurance Society, attempted the summit. Seven had already turned around to leave the mountains. With the winds gusting between 45 and 60 miles per hour, I pulled to the rear and kept my eyes on the slower members. It was approximately -25F ambient temperature on the summit. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the windchill factor brought temperatures as low as -69F. I began to worry for the four members in the back of our group of eight. They were clearly hypothermic and had splotches of frostnip on their faces. Frostbite could kick in on their noses and cheeks in a matter of minutes. I ran ahead to catch up with Andy Weinberg, our leader, to tell him I was
turning them around, screaming through the gust of wind that broke through the nylon in my hood. He agreed to meet me back at treeline. Fumbling in the wind as I lowered my face mask and raised my iced-over goggles, I yelled back through the icecold air to the group staggering below. Just seeing me turning away from the summit made a couple of them turn around, as if enlightening them that up is not the only direction. I’m a pretty simple guy; my girlfriend says that makes me complicated though. In the winter I like three things: moving in the woods, the cold days, and everything that combines those two things. This might be why I agreed to join the Extremus hike again this year, even after knowing what the forecasted temperatures would be. I knew that we might not see windchill temps higher than -30F with the wind breaking through the trees, even in the valley. I’ve been with the Extremus group
all three years and we’ve never finished the trek, but as Andy says, “the idea is to come for the community and the challenge, and not worry about winning or losing as there are no winners or losers. "Extremus" is the brainchild of Andy Weinberg, founder of the Endurance Society, which organizes events that test athletes' limits. Other events include things like Infinitus, an 888-kilometer running race. Andy, a professor at Castleton University, has competed in more than 100 ultra marathons, double and triple Ironmans and even a quintuple Ironman (that's a 12-mile swim, 560-mile bike, 131-mile run.) The first two Extremus events were group endurance hikes held in the dead of winter in Vermont. “The purpose of the trek might be debatable, but if you think it’s supposed to be easy, it’s not,” Andy says about Extremus. In 2016, Extremus aimed to take a group for 50 miles along the Long Trail. That year, it was unexpectedly warm. Rain and strong winds pummeled the group and two hypothermic hikers were
rescued after 25 miles. This year, the forecast went in the opposite direction: the forecasted high on Mount Marcy was going to be -55F with windchill. I signed up for a New Year’s Eve 5k three days before the race because the forecasted high was -25F with the windchill. I slept outside of the cabin the night before the event. Even my crazy friends think I’m crazy. The people who do Extremus aren’t your ordinary people. Among the 2018 Extremus group were Wilderness First Responders, a nurse, ultramarathon runners, people who have stood on Mount Rainier, Mount Aconcagua (the highest mountain in South America), and Mount Washington in 100-plus m.p.h. winter winds. I’m a licensed hiking guide through the New York Department of Environmental Conservation, and an endurance athlete. The night before we left, Andy, myself, and a few other Endurance Society members had a conversation
MARCH/APRIL 2018 | VTSPORTS.COM 11
THE TREK REPORT BY ANDY WEINBERG and ERICA SIMISTER
n Saturday, January 6, 2018, 14 of us set out to hike over nine summits. We would be covering about 24 miles on snowshoe in the Adirondacks in what we anticipated would be one long day. Our route would take us to the summits of Haystack, Basin, Saddleback, Gothics, Armstrong, Upper Wolfjaw, and Lower Wolfjaw. The behind-the scenes-work started almost a year in advance. The date was locked down and the course set. The closer we got, the more excited I got. The extended forecast looked perfect. Then, a deep, record-setting freeze descended on the East Coast.
When the group slowed down at a bottleneck at a narrow climbing section, the cold began to seep in.Photo by Bill Root
with two concerned park rangers. They left satisfied that we had a long contingency plan, a committed support crew, and a licensed hiking guide. Mount Marcy proved to be a manageable threat that day. That afternoon though, we would find ourselves in the middle of a more technical challenge: getting over the steep south face of Saddleback Mountain. Three members of our crew had already made it known that they didn’t want to be a part of the full journey and headed out. What we thought would be a simple climb up and over the mountain to the next trail junction turned into the climax of our day. It was just an eighth of a mile and 100 vertical feet, but it would take us an hour and a half to cross, all in full wind exposure. With three major cruxes in this section, we had three separate bottle-necks happen back-to-back-to-back as hikers slowed down in narrow sections of the trail. This type of slow moving in extreme conditions is what brings on danger. I led the group on all three spots and helped each member of our crew across. I had to stop after about 30 minutes to put on every piece of clothing I had. Shivering in the wind at the top of a ten foot rock and ice chimney, I had to take my mittens off, kneel in the snow
12 VTSPORTS.COM | MARCH/APRIL 2018
with my snowshoe crampons dug into a thin layer of ice, and one by one, pull up each member of the group, commanding them where to put their feet. By the time the last members of the group made it up, everyone was hypothermic. At this point, Andy was fumbling, and quiet. He grabbed the wrong backpack instead of his own. He had just stood still for almost 45 minutes at the bottom of this last traffic jam. I was worried about myself, so I took off cruising through the heavy snow pack, just to warm up. Regaining the feeling in my toes was my sign that I was alright. I told Andy that I couldn’t handle another stop-and-go section of trail, none of us could. We left the ridgeline, knowing that the climb up Gothics would surely bring too much exposure for the group. Frostbitten toes would be a small concern if we got stuck up there in the dark on the southern exposure of Gothics. We made the right call and because of that, we all got to walk out of the woods that night. The one casualty: Andy’s toes suffered serious frostbite. A successful adventure in the woods is one where everyone wants to come back. More than likely, the 15 members of our group won’t change much next year, when we make another attempt at the Great Range of the Adirondacks.
Jan. 4: Thursday morning: I arrived a day early to scout our exit trail and found 3- to 4-foot snowdrifts covering the trail. Hiking through those in the dark, late in the day on Saturday would be dangerous. I consulted a few local friends who know the Great Range and surrounding trails quite well. We discussed the weather. Forecasts called for a high of -6F and low of -24F, with wind chills as low as -60 F. There was no room for error of any kind; any issue or accident could turn life-threatening very quickly, especially above treeline. Jan. 4: Thursday afternoon. We would stick with the planned course, the Great Range, making two changes to the original plan: we’d skip Haystack due to the amount of time we would be above treeline, and the exit route was changed to avoid the trail with heavy snowdrifts. Emergency bailout points were documented and maps were updated. We were ready, and ready to turn back when we needed to. We talked about what-ifs… What if someone gets hurt miles from our support team? We would be carrying safety gear. Our group consisted of trekkers who were trained in medical and wilderness first-aid, and we would begin to self-rescue in the event of an issue. If someone needed to bail, multiple participants would hike out to our support team.
Jan. 5: Friday evening. We had a great dinner in Keene, NY, catching up with each other, reviewing the safety plan, the route, and the bailout points. Everyone was nervous due to the weather and we had a few people cancel earlier in the week due to the forecast. I was nervous for myself, and for everyone involved. We are risk takers, but we like calculated risks. Winter hiking is our passion and this was going to be a great test. Jan 6: Saturday morning. I woke up at 2:45 a.m. and we arrived at the trailhead around 4:15 a.m.. The parking lot was empty—rare this time of the year, but given the weather, not a surprise. We put our snowshoes on, said goodbye to our support crew, and hit the trail in the dark. Even in the dark, the trail was gorgeous. It was -15 to -20F but once we started to climb we warmed up quickly. Bringing up the rear, I was able to watch the line of headlights shining in the dark. It was an amazing feeling. A bit into the first climb, we stopped to check in with each other. A few people decided that they would be turning back after the first summit, about 7 miles in. This was a planned bailout point, as we had a support team member hiking with us in anticipation of trekkers turning back. Jan. 6: Saturday, dawn. Dawn came as we were just a bit below treeline. The trail and snow were amazing. People who don’t hike in winter are frequently in awe of the beauty when they see photos of the snow-covered peaks. Six trekkers assesd their comfort level—mental and physical—with the conditions, and chose to not continue on above treeline. They hiked back, along with our support team member. The rest of the team—eight of us, including Lance Parker—headed to our first summit. Jan. 6: Summit 1: Mount Marcy. Lance stationed himself below the first summit, checking in with each trekker. Winds were gusting between 45 and 60 miles per hour, and it was a challenge to communicate with each other. A portion of the group
remained at treeline, rather than face the wind on the summit. The remainder of the group quickly summited and we regrouped at the trail junction. Each of us was prepared to hike out at this point. After a quick assessment to check for hypothermia, nutrition, hydration, and condition, everyone was ready to continue on with the trek. Jan. 6: Summit of Little Haystack. The trek towards Little Haystack was uneventful. At the summit, we admired the views and reflected on our course change: we had opted to skip the trek over to Haystack. There was no doubt that we made the right decision. We pushed on towards our next summit. Jan. 6: Summit of Basin. We were deep in the woods on unbroken trail as we headed towards Basin. Lance and another personwere breaking trail. At the base, we decided to climb at a steady pace as a group, push over the summit, and descend right away. I knew this would be fun because it’s a great little climb and really gets people excited, especially those who are seeing it for the first time. We worked our way up; the snow was gorgeous but quite fine, which made the climb a challenge. We worked together and shared lots of smiles and laughs along the way. The views at the top were incredible. Jan. 6: Summit of Saddleback. We descended Basin and began the climb to Saddleback. The view from Saddleback is one of my favorites and I couldn’t wait for everyone to experience it. Everyone was in a great mood and we were constantly checking in on each other. Three trekkers decided that they were going to hike out via a bailout trail after Saddleback and meet our support crew for pickup. Once we reached the Saddleback wall, our final ascent was underway, with four technical sections between us and the summit. Lance climbed the first section and was helping each trekker navigate the section; taking packs and tossing them up to solid ground, directing trekkers on the safest footholds, helping them up the wall of rock and ice. I stayed at the end of the line guiding trekkers up towards Lance. To keep the group moving, Andy V. took over Lance’s spot, helping trekkers through this section, and Lance moved on to the second section, moving trekkers forward. This second
section was short and we strategically positioned ourselves so each trekker could move across this section. The next two sections proved a challenge. We went one at a time, and with some trial and error and a lot of team work, we pushed through them. These sections took us much longer than planned to work through. Once through the technical sections, we summited Saddleback and quickly dipped back into the woods for the descent—a challenge as well due to an unbroken trail. But the group was in good spirits. Jan. 6: Summit of Gothics. We had a four mile trek to our next summit. After discussing what we had worked through and what lay ahead, we agreed it was not safe to continue. The weather and the conditions weren’t in our favor. Normally, I would say bailing was a hard decision but because we all had each other’s safety as the priority it was a surprisingly easy decision. Jan. 6: Bailout to the Garden. We began the trek towards the Garden parking lot. This is a long hike and we had hours to go. We had to keep our spirits up, take care of ourselves, and keep moving. As we dug for our headlamps and bundled up for the final push, we again discussed safety. We would hike on and stop at the warming hut around three miles away before the final push to the parking lot. There was little conversation at this point, but I was happy with our effort and thrilled that we had such a great adventure with everyone safe. We made it to the warming hut and were greeted by a dozen guys from New Jersey. They listened to stories of our adventure and fed us. They were so nice and so welcoming, it was hard to leave. But back into the cold we went; our support team was waiting for us about an hour away in the parking lot, with three warm vehicles and food. Once we reached the parking lot, our support team contacted law enforcement and park rangers to let them know we were out, per our safety plan. Jan. 6: Keene trek headquarters The first group of trekkers welcomed us, helped pull off frozen gear and gave us warm food and drinks. Everyone was together again, sharing stories about their experiences and enjoying each other’s company. It seemed odd
Bundled and climbing though deep snow, the Extremus group made their way to four ADK summits in the Great Range (top). Photos, top by Carl Heilmann II; bottom, by Bill Root.
that we were celebrating, but half the fun was the nature of the event and participants. While we failed to finish Extremus for the third year in a row, everyone was satisfied with the adventure. I was so excited to get my boots off and just hang out and talk about our day. Saturday night was celebratory, reminiscent of Friday night, but without the underlying nervousness. We were unsuccessful in our attempt, but met our two goals (a winter adventure and nobody was injured). Well, almost no injuries… I went into one of the bedrooms, changed into warm clothes and grabbed a pair of dry wool socks. I walked into the living room in bare feet and grabbed a spot on the couch. Someone immediately noticed my toes and all of a sudden that was the focus. My toes were cold but I didn’t think much of it as they have been this cold before. Little did I know, I had frostbite. I must have lost feeling at some point so I didn’t realize that I
was in danger. Luckily, we had a doctor, an ER nurse, and Wilderness First Responders in the cabin. We thawed my feet in lukewarm water for a while, and then went to an emergency room where the diagnosis was confirmed. Reflection: I venture into the woods daily and for extended trips on weekends. I’ve been winter camping for 20-plus years, and have explored the mountains on skis and snowshoes every winter since I moved to Vermont ten years ago. I’ve never had frostbite. Because of the immediate treatment and a follow up with my doctor the next day I was able to heal. It’s been challenging, to say the least, but a great learning experience. Of course, 2019 Extremus planning is already underway. An important part of any challenge is looking at what went well and where there were weaknesses. We’ll reflect on Extremus 2018’s challenges as we plan, train and prepare for our next trek. And then we wait… for the weather.
MARCH/APRIL 2018 | VTSPORTS.COM 13
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AO Trauma Fellowship: John Hunter Hospital, Newcastle, Australia Foot and Ankle Fellowship: University of Washington and Harborview Medical Center in Seattle Residency, Orthopedic Surgery: University of Vermont Medical Center Medical Degree: University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio School of Medicine Bachelor of Arts: Williams College in Massachusetts Conditions treated: arthritis, bunions, fracture fixation, foot reconstruction, ankle instability, and sports related injuries of the foot and ankle. He is also trained in total ankle replacements.
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14 VTSPORTS.COM | MARCH/APRIL 2018
THE NEW WINTER GAMES
THIS MARCH, PICO PLAYS HOST TO A DIFFERENT WINTER GAMES, AS SPECIAL OLYMPICS CELEBRATES 50 YEARS AND A NEW APPROACH.
health exams and information to athletes at no charge, and the Young Athletes program, which focuses on children of all abilities from ages two to seven. The organization has also relocated its
accommodate for fast-moving growth— from Suicide Six, the event’s host for ten years, to Pico Mountain. Pico is also the home of Special Olympics partner Vermont Adaptive, an organization that also strives to empower athletes of all abilities. Reed says the move made sense, and they simply needed more space. “The
amazing. They really embraced us,” Minter says. “But our athlete numbers just outgrew the space that they have there.” Part of that growth, she says, comes from the school-based Unified Champions Program, in which athletes of all abilities play on teams together. There are 72 participating schools in Vermont. Of those, 16 are endorsed by the Board of Public Education, which allows athletes to join a Unified team, in the same way that they would join a varsity or JV team. “It’s a really cool way of bringing people together and creating a sense of inclusion, and giving all people opportunities to
Sean Fahey, fourth from left, a Special Olympics athlete from Addison County, poses with his winning snowshoe team during last year's Winter Games.
compete in sports,” Reed said. “They get
Photo courtesy Shawn Fahey
uniforms, they get gym time, and they get referees, and they’re treated the same way
ean Fahey was 16 years old when
complete with podiums, medals, and a
she spearheaded the first large-scale
he first tried snowshoeing. He had
dinner/dance at the Killington Grand Hotel
athletic event for people with intellectual
just moved to Middlebury Vt. from
with coaches and staff. The experience
disabilities, held on July 2, 1968, in
Baltimore, Md., and his new high school
impacts everyone—the coaches, athletes
friends suggested that he join Special
and volunteers become, as Fahey says, a
“All of my friends recommended it,”
Now, 50 years later, Special Olympics has gone international with 4.9 million
“I think one of the principles that Olympics
athletes worldwide. And in Vermont, it’s growing faster than ever.
he said. “It took a little while, but later
on I realized that we treat each other like
sportsmanship,” says Liza Reed, marketing
“We started out as a sports organization
director at Special Olympics Vermont. “You
for people with intellectual disabilities,”
Fahey, now 25, is part of Addison
see a lot of great sportsmanship out on the
Reed says. “Now it’s really a movement
County’s Special Olympic chapter. With
field that you might not see at a traditional
for inclusion, and we have a huge focus on
the Winter Games approaching on March
sports setting. It’s really a family. The day
Unified Sports—teams where people of all
18, he’s spent a lot of time training on
after the dance ends, we’ll have people
intellectual abilities play together.”
snowshoes at Rikert Nordic Center in
asking, ‘What’s the dance theme for the
Ripton. There’s a lot at stake: His relay
Winter Games dance next year?’ People
participating athletes. In October, 2017,
team has won gold five years in a row, and
really get hooked.”
Minter took over as CEO and Executive
“If you really want to see the Addison
anniversary for Special Olympics, and the
Director. With twelve years of executive
County crew go for it, just wait ‘til Winter
47th year of Special Olympics Vermont.
and legislative experience, thirteen years
Games, and wait until the relay race
In June of 1962, Eunice Kennedy Shriver,
of coaching youth sports, and a lifetime of
starts,” he said.
John F. Kennedy’s sister, turned her
participating in competitive athletics, her
Maryland backyard into a summer camp
ideas suited the Special Olympics mission:
for children with intellectual disabilities.
to change the world through sport.
this year, he plans to make it six.
The Games are comprised of two full days of competition, beginning, just like
the Olympic Games, with an opening
She was bothered by the way the
Chiefly, Minter plans to grow year-
ceremony. Athletes race in alpine and
public treated the children and concerned
round participation in the organization’s
cross-country skiing, snowboarding and
that they didn’t have a safe and inclusive
13 sports, but she’s also committed to
snowshoeing events. The weekend is
place to play. Through the next four years,
building the health program, which offers
as the varsity and JV teams would be.” When athletes graduate from high school, they often join Unified teams in their communities. SOV saw 450 Unified partners (people who play on Unified teams, but don’t have an intellectual disability) participate in 2017. For those looking for other ways to get involved, the organization needs volunteers to help out at the Winter Games. Shifts range from several hours to an all-day affair, during which volunteers get to be on their skis or snowboards, on the mountain and meeting athletes. “When you’re from part of a population that’s been marginalized, or you spend a lot of your life on the sidelines feeling like you can’t do things and people are always talking about your disability, sports are great way to show your ability,” Reed says. “To say, 'regardless whatever challenges I may be experiencing, I can still be a successful alpine skier, I can be a really successful competitor, I can set goals, I can still be strong and successful.” To
find a Unified team near you, visit specialolympicsvermont.com. —Emma Cotton
AUGUST 2017 MARCH/APRIL 2018 | VTSPORTS.COM 15
FAKE NEWS EVERY YEAR, IT SEEMS, THERE’S A NEW MAGIC BULLET IN SPORTS NUTRITION. HERE, WE DEBUNK 6 OF THE BIGGEST MYTHS.
BY JAMIE SHEAHAN, M.S. R.D.
hen it comes to nutrition, everyone is an expert. Magazine articles, blogs, and daytime TV hosts are all quick to offer up sage advice—and the public eats it up (pun intended). The field of sports nutrition is no exception as, more and more, athletes look to their diets to give them an edge on the competition. Unfortunately, not all of the advice is correct and pervasive myths mislead even the savviest. Check out the facts behind these sports nutrition myths so that you won’t be yet another victim of “fake news.”
COCONUT OIL IS A SUPERFOOD FOR ATHLETES.
Just as Bill Cosby went from national treasure to controversial pariah, coconut oil is no longer America’s sweetheart. In fact, few foods have experienced such widespread love and devotion only to be followed by an equally rapid fall from grace. In the 1950s, coconut oil was used regularly in frying and baking. What served as a staple item in many kitchens was phased out, however, when research linked saturated fats to heart disease. As medical professionals began warning consumers to avoid foods high in saturated fat, butter, high-fat meats and coconut oil quickly became taboo. Instead, dietary guidelines urged us to opt for vegetable oils, all but removing coconut oil from most household kitchens. Coconut oil remained on the out until recent years when it took top spot as the latest and greatest “superfood.” Claims about coconut oil ranged from it being a weight loss magic bullet to a possible cure for Alzheimer’s. All of a sudden, coconut oil was being added to smoothies, energy bars and even coffee. Health bloggers and foodies alike touted using coconut oil in
16 VTSPORTS.COM | MARCH/APRIL 2018
place of other fats for a health and flavor boost. Why the sudden shift? In 2003, a study delved into the impact of different types of saturated fats on health. Yes, you read that correctly; not all saturated fats behave the same way in the body and thus their impact differs. Medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) are saturated fats that have shorter chains and, as a result, are digested and absorbed
differently. Their shorter length allows them to travel directly to the liver after being absorbed from the digestive tract, where they can be burned immediately for energy. This differs from long-chain triglycerides (LCTs), which are ultimately transported in the blood to fat cells where they are deposited for storage. The study found that individuals with a diet containing higher levels of MCTs lost more weight than those consuming a diet high in LCTs. Follow up studies compared a diet high in MCTs to a diet high in olive oil and, once again, MCTs provided more weight loss. In addition, MCTs did not raise cholesterol as other saturated fats did. As you may have surmised, it just so happens that the saturated fats in coconut oil are largely MCTs. With that, coconut oil came out of obscurity and into seemingly every pantry in America. In fact, since that study came out, coconut oil has been widely incorporated into processed goods and has found a place alongside butter and even olive oil for use in cooking and baking. The proposed mechanism of MCT absorption and transport in the body piqued the interest of athletes as well. In addition to its purported health benefits, athletes jumped at the idea that coconut oil could deliver a rapid source of energy that could supplement or even replace carbohydrates
during exercise. However, coconut oil’s reign was not meant to last. Recently the American Heart Association once again blacklisted coconut oil, citing studies that showed coconut oil is the health equivalent of other foods high in saturated fat like butter and palm oil. In fact, coconut oil boasts an even higher saturated fat content than lard. Just two tablespoons packs in 20 grams of saturated fat; the maximum daily amount recommended for females. What’s worse, the claims associated with MCT’s didn’t actually bear out. Upon closer examination, we now know that studies cited to support the use of coconut oil did not actually use coconut oil, but instead relied on the use of MCT oil. Of the fat contained in MCT oil, 95-percent can be rapidly burned for energy. However, the MCTs in coconut oil are slightly longer and, as a result, are processed differently, with only 25- to 30-percent being transported to the liver for quick conversion to energy. Translation: while the claims of health benefits from MCTs are well-founded, they can’t be extrapolated and applied to the fats in coconut oil. Bottom line: For athletes, this means that alleged rapid energy source isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. In fact, consumption of coconut oil prior to exercise can negatively
impact performance. If you are still looking for the benefit of an easy-to-access energy source other than carbohydrates, MCT oil is an option. However, athletes should be aware that studies on MCT oil use prior to exercise have not shown any improvement in performance. There are also potential negative side effects like gastrointestinal distress.
ELIMINATING GLUTEN IS GOOD FOR HEALTH AND PERFORMANCE.
With approximately one-third of Americans avoiding gluten—the protein found in wheat, barley, rye and some other grains— going gluten-free has grown from a health fad to an all-out movement in the United States. Those who shun gluten claim that our body is not adapted to consuming the protein and doing so can lead to everything from digestive distress to weight gain and fatigue. Athletes are no exception and many, even at elite levels, now subscribe to a gluten-free diet or try to avoid it as much as possible. Though some athletes may claim that eliminating gluten-containing grains has given them a boost in performance and reduced their digestive issues, research suggests otherwise. For example, one recent study compared the cycling performance of athletes following a gluten-free diet versus highgluten diet. The results showed absolutely no difference in performance, inflammatory markers or digestive issues. Bottom line: If going gluten free doesn’t necessarily help, is there any real harm? The concern is that many gluten-free alternatives are more highly processed and are lower in nutrients than their gluten-containing counterparts. This is not to suggest, however, that a gluten-free diet holds no merit. For those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, gluten should be eliminated altogether. The best solution is to eat whole grains that are naturally gluten-free, such as quinoa, corn or rice.
HONEY AND MAPLE SYRUP ARE BETTER THAN SUGAR.
We all know full well that our sugar intake should be kept as low as possible. However,
what constitutes sugar has proven to be a divisive issue. Most would agree that if you add a tablespoon of sugar to your coffee or oatmeal you might as well eat a bowl of Frosted Flakes. But add a tablespoon of honey or maple syrup, and many people feel downright wholesome. Unfortunately, the health halo that seems to surround honey and maple syrup is misleading. There’s no question that white sugar provides nothing more than calories, but maple syrup and honey aren’t exactly nutritional all-stars. While honey and maple syrup do provide some nutrients, such as traces of B vitamins, the amounts of these vitamins are small, and both honey and maple syrup pack a lot of sugar and calories. Bottom line: Metabolically, the body doesn’t care whether your added sugar intake comes from refined white sugar or pure maple syrup. In the end, excess calories, particularly from sugar, lead to weight gain. This issue comes up for athletes when selecting fueling products like gels and sports drinks that consist primarily of simple sugars. The push back against sugar has created a niche market for “natural” fueling products that use honey or maple syrup to provide power for the long haul. If this is your preference and you find these products work for you, then by all means, go for it. But if you are choosing to forego your favorite gel because you are trying to avoid all of that “bad” processed sugar, you can rest (or run) assured: it doesn’t matter either way. Stick with what you feel and perform best with.
MUSCLE CRAMPS ARE CAUSED BY DEHYDRATION OR AN ELECTROLYTE IMBALANCE.
Nearly every endurance athlete has a harrowing story to tell of a race in which he or she succumbed to the pain of a muscle
cramp. Experiencing this once is usually enough for athletes to seek out a solution so they never have to see a PR slip away again, thanks to a seized-up calf or hamstring. It is widely believed that muscle cramps are caused by dehydration or an electrolyte imbalance. Therefore, the seemingly obvious solution is to consume more sports beverages throughout the race or use electrolyte replacements. While this can be a smart strategy for overall performance, unfortunately, it will do nothing for those cramps. The theories on dehydration and electrolyte imbalance are based on dated and poorly-designed studies that have since been discredited. Bottom line: Muscle cramps are actually caused by neuromuscular fatigue. Essentially, the muscle cramps because it is being exerted above and beyond normal levels. Think about it: How often do muscle cramps occur when you are just out for a casual run versus a competitive race? If you have been plagued by muscle cramps in the past, then the solution is to examine your training and ensure that your intensity when racing is reflective of your training.
YOU CAN’T DRINK TOO MUCH WATER.
Most athletes have it drilled into them from an early age that dehydration is a common problem that can negatively impact performance. The obvious solution: drink a lot and drink often, especially when exercising in the heat. While it is true that dehydration can have adverse performance and even health consequences, you can have too much of a good thing. That’s right, you can overdo it on water, and the potential consequences can land you in the hospital or, even worse, result in death. Hyponatremia is a condition in which the level of sodium in the blood is abnormally low. By consuming too much water, sodium in the blood becomes diluted. This, in turn, causes cells in the body to swell, resulting in symptoms like nausea, vomiting, headache, confusion, fatigue, irritability and loss of consciousness. Experts speculate that overblown fears of dehydration have pushed
many recreational athletes to drink far more than is recommended or needed. In fact, a study of Boston Marathon finishers found that 13 percent were hyponatremic upon completing the race. Bottom line: To avoid the potential performance or health consequence of hyponatremia, the best thing athletes can do is to listen to their body by using thirst as their guide.
ATHLETES NEED TO TAKE A MULTIVITAMIN.
Surveys have shown that approximately 85 percent of elite athletes use at least one supplement, the most common of which is a multivitamin. That seems to make sense. Athletes sweat out a lot of vitamins and minerals. Plus they need extra antioxidants to deal with the stress exercise puts on their bodies, right? Wrong. An athlete’s vitamin and mineral needs are not drastically different from those of sedentary individuals with only a few minor exceptions. Barring any significant food restrictions, most athletes get adequate vitamins and minerals naturally from food. Scientists have found that the vitamin and mineral content of natural foods are in the ideal proportion to allow for optimal absorption. Of course, meeting one’s nutrient needs without supplementation hinges on one very important detail: the quality of your diet. Athletes have to consume a variety of nutrient-dense foods in order to meet their needs. Unfortunately, “nutrient-dense” isn’t exactly what jumps to mind with the standard American diet. Bottom line: Processed foods are often stripped of their naturally-occurring vitamins and minerals, increasing the likelihood of a vitamin or mineral deficiency among those who rely heavily on these foods; athlete or not. If you are concerned you may be missing out on key nutrients, meet with a registered dietitian to evaluate the quality of your diet and determine if a multivitamin or other supplement may help. Jamie Sheahan, M.S., R.D. is the Director of Nutrition at The Edge in Burlington where she works closely with athletes to develop custom fueling plans to optimize health and performance. Sheahan is also an adjunct professor of sports nutrition at University of Vermont and an avid runner.
MARCH/APRIL 2018 | VTSPORTS.COM 17
And the Winners Are...
WE ASKED, YOU VOTED. AND HERE ARE THE WINNERS OF THE 2018 BLACK DIAMOND AWARDS —HONORING THE BEST IN VERMONT AND THE PEOPLE WHO MAKE THIS STATE AWESOME.
ach year, Vermont Sports polls our readers on what you love best about Vermont's outdoor scene: the best people, places, shops and ski areas around the state. This year, we received responses from all corners of the state and some surprising new answers. One thing that didn't suprise us, though, was your passion level. Nearly 60 percent of you rated your love for being outdoors as a 4 or a 5 (out of 5) and 79 percent of you exercise outdoors three or more times a week. You also rave about your local shops (82 percent buy their gear in person, locally), live here full-time (90 percent of you own a primary home here). More than 60 percent have attended a race or event based on what you saw in this magazine and more than half have purchased something based on Vermont Sports. We’re grateful for your passion, and for sharing what you love most about this state.
SKIING BEST ALPINE SKI AREA There are more than 20 alpine ski areas in the state and choosing the best isn’t easy. Smuggler’s Notch and Magic Mountain turned up at the top of two national surveys this year. But for Vermont Sports readers, once again, Sugarbush topped the list. With every type of terrain, from the straight-line cruiser of Spring Fling, to the steeps and bumps of Stein’s, to the Castlerock area’s natural terrain to Slide Brook Basin’s long woods runs, Sugarbush has more than a little something for every skier and rider. And then there’s an option to book snowcat skiing on powder days. Add to that: skin-to dinners high on the mountain at the Allyn Lodge, the Rumble’s Kitchen and the legendary French café Chez Henri and there’s a variety of signature eateries that take on-mountain dining to the next level. Plus, come spring, tables get set up outside the Castlerock Pub where you can enjoy wood fired flatbread and beers in the sun. Most of all, it’s a sense of community that sets Sugarbush apart. Local owner Win Smith is on the mountain at 9 a.m. every morning and is one of the most enthusiastic participants in the annual pond skim. His attention to details on and off the mountain,
18 VTSPORTS.COM | MARCH/APRIL 2018
Sampling the sweet stuff at Sugarbush. Photo by John Atkinson
Trail traverse to the Trapp Family Lodge trails, or only as far as Nebraska Valley, could shuttle back. While runners-up Jay Peak and Smuggler’s Notch may access plenty of steep and deep terrain, Bolton won out for our readers. 1. Bolton Valley 2. Jay Peak 3. Smuggler’s Notch.
BEST BACKCOUNTRY Cruising by the revamped Craftsbury Outdoor Center. and care for the folks he shares it with, show. Cheers, Sugarbush. 1. Sugarbush, 2. Jay Peak, 2. Stowe (tie) 3. Mad River Glen.
BEST SIDECOUNTRY Sidecountry, once the hidden province of rope duckers and surreptitious gladers, has become some of the most vaunted terrain at ski areas. Vermont has plenty of it, be it the trails Mt. Mansfield’s early pioneers built, such as the Bruce, or the massive Slide Brook Basin area at Sugarbush. But in the past year, no resort has capitalized on its
Photo by John Lazenby
“out-of-bounds” terrain as much as Bolton Valley. With two backcountry huts (Bryant Cabin and Bolton Lodge) and miles of glades and backcountry on both sides of the mountain, Bolton Valley Ski Resort has become a powder trove for locals. Now, with the DesLauriers family once again owning the resort, backcountry plays a bigger role than ever. This year Bolton offered backcountry clinics, hosted rentals and held skimo races. It even ran a bus to Stowe so that those who wanted to do the Catamount
The Randolph/Rochester Sports Trails Alliance has been a literal trailblazer in backcountry skiing ever since it worked to help create the first sanctioned glades in the country on U.S. Forest Service land. The two key areas RASTA has developed, Brandon Gap on Route 53 and Braintree Mountain, near Randolph, have become icons for backcountry skiing, earning Vermont the nickname V-tah. In February, 2017, in one day 171 people carved down a total of 20,000 vertical feet through the RASTA glades. And there was still room for fresh tracks. 1. RASTA 2. Bolton Valley 3. Mt. Mansfield.
BEST NORDIC SKI AREA With more than 30 cross-country ski areas in Vermont there’s so much variety to choose from that this year, we asked people to vote for their favorites in three regions. In the north, Craftsbury Outdoor Center—the training ground for Olympic athletes Susan Dunklee, Emily Dreissigacker, Liz Stephen, Ida Sargent and many others–took top honors. With more than 100 kilometers of groomed ski trails, cabins to rent, farm-fresh meals and an indoor training facility that befits, well, Olympians, Craftsbury has become a worldwide destination for athletes and home to the elite Green Racing Project team. In 2018, Craftsbury also served as one of the seven stops on the FIS-sanctioned, U.S. Super Tour and on March 4-7, hosted the Ski Orienteering World Championship. Close behind though, was the first cross country ski area in America, Trapp Family Lodge Trails, followed by the Catamount Outdoor Center. In central Vermont, Rikert Nordic Center’s snowmaking and gorgeous trails through the Bread Loaf Wilderness, along with events such as the Bread Loaf Citizen’s Race (March 10, and you win a loaf of bread), earned it top honors. The Woodstock Inn’s cross-country trails came in a close second and the trails of Blueberry Hill Inn took third place. To the south, Wild Wings—the backyard trails that Olympian Sophie Caldwell calls home, was the most loved. Be it the low-key vibe, the loops through the woods or the fact that it doubles as a yoga center, Wild Wings has a devoted following that earned it top honors over Stratton and Prospect Mountain, near Bennington. North: 1. Craftsbury Outdoor Center 2. Trapp Family Lodge 3. Catamount Outdoor Center Central: 1. Rikert Nordic Center 2. Woodstock Inn 3. Blueberry Hill. | South: 1. Wild Wings, 2 Stratton, 3. Prospect Mountain.
SHOPS & GEAR BEST OUTDOORS SHOP Early on, Outdoor Gear Exchange might have earned a rep as a place to find lightly used camping gear at bargain prices, but it’s now one of the largest and most highly trafficked shops in the Northeast—and expanding. This year, in addiiton to being named overall Best Outdoors Shop, OGE was also a runner-up for Best Ski Shop, Best Bike Shop and Best Snowboard Shop. In January, the Burlington shop announced it would be taking over the space on Church Street formerly owned
In southern Vermont, The Mountain Goat, the Manchester shop that’s been locally-owned and managed by cyclists/ hikers and adventurers Anne and Ron Houser for 30 years, plays an equally key role in its community. Just five minutes from the Appalachian Trail, the shop specializes in everything you need for hiking, from custom footbeds to snowshoes. 1. Outdoor Gear Exchange 2. Umiak Outdoor Outfitters 3. The Mountain Goat
Outdoor Gear Exchange will be expanding and taking over neighbor Panera's space on Church Street. Photo courtesy OGE
BEST SKI SHOP You would expect that Skirack would live up to its name. And it does. But what you might not expect is the deep, deep level of knowledge and service that this shop offers—and the gear to go with it. Take bootfitter Doug Stewart. He’s not only a pro bootfitter who will give you honest advice on what you need or don’t need, he’s also a PSIA Examiner and on the Eastern Tech Team (meaning, he’s one of the people who teaches other ski instructors). Ryan Rubino has reviewed gear for Powder. There’s Allison Kozar and a posse of MasterFitcertified boot fitters. The cross-country department, sometimes an afterthought at other shops, is as important in the winter as the bike shop is in the summer and the Wintersteiger Race NC grind machine is the place many of the top local skiers go for ski tunes. Sure, many shops will carry the latest and greatest gear, but Skirack specializes in helping you figure out what’s best for you. 1. Skirack 2. Outdoor Gear Exchange 3. Alpine Shop
BEST SNOWBOARD SHOP
The Skirack team doing a little on-mountain research. Photo courtesy Skirack by Panera. That will allow it to grow by 20 percent, giving it even more space for bikes and skis and allowing OGE to display the new lines it recently took on from The North Face and Osprey. The shop always has something going on: hosting talks on backcountry skiing and riding, doing off-site demos on anything from mountain bikes to ice climbing and has become a leader in the outdoor community. Spurred by owner Marc Sherman’s advisory role in the Vermont Outdoor Recreation Economic
Collaborative (VOREC), in January the governor announced a partnership with OGE that will make loaner camping gear available at five state parks. OGE is not alone. Umiak Outdoor Outfitters spends as much time getting people to learn new sports, demo equipment and try new adventures (have you done an “adventure sledding tour"?) as it does simply selling kayaks, SUPs, clothing and outdoor gear at its Stowe and Richmond (summer only) retail shops.
You also might expect Burton to come in as the No. 1 snowboard shop in the state. After all, its giant headquarters features their latest gear and technology, sometimes before it’s available elsewhere. But it’s Darkside (the shop which carries everything from Burton, to Rome, to Yes Greats boards and a huge inventory of clothing and accessories) that earned this honor from our readers. Bill and Teeta Langlands opened the first Darkside in Killington in 1989. Darkside’s access road location now has a lit Dark Park behind it for snowboarding and, in summer, skateboarding events. The shop has since expanded with outlets on the access roads to Stowe and Okemo and is an official Burton retailer. 1. Darkside 2. Burton 3. Outdoor Gear Exchange
BEST BIKE SHOP This year Earl’s Cyclery and Fitness was voted the best bike shop in the state. Earl’s has been around for more than 60 years and while other shops have diversified, Earl’s has stayed true to its core sport: cycling in all its forms, from bikepacking and fatbiking to
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road racing and triathlons. With a practice mountain bike track out back, demos and a good spread of fitness machines (ranging from spin bikes and ellipticals), it’s the shop where anyone who’s serious about cycling stops in at some point. Each spring, the shop hosts a legendary bike swap (May 5-6) and Tuesday night rides run from May through September, led by shop’s own team of star riders. Last summer, it also introduced a new, free pick-up and drop-off service for those who don’t have time to bring their bike into the shop. New to the rankings, Green Mountain Bikes, in the tiny town of Rochester, earned third place in our reader rankings and has been instrumental in working with RASTA to help build out trails in the area. 1. Earl’s Cyclery and Fitness 2. Skirack 3. Green Mountain Bikes
BEST MOUNTAIN BIKE EVENT It’s hard to say which is more fun — the New England Mountain Bike Festival (NMBAFest) held each year at Kingdom Trails or the Vermont Mountain Biking Association Festival (VMBAFest) which has moved between Ascutney and Sugarbush in recent years and is back in Ascutney this year. Our readers rated them both tops in the state and with group rides, camping, bonfire, demos, a tent village of sponsors and product and, of course, mountain bike “Olympics,” they are just hands-down good times. And because of the timing, NMBA is June 22-24 and VMBA on July 27-29. There are good reasons to do both. For those who prefer a bit more suffering, the Vermont 50 came in second followed by Circumburke–both pointto-point challenging distance rides on a combination of trails. 1 (tie) NMBAFest and VMBAFest 2. Vermont 50 3. Circumburke.
BEST GRAVEL RIDE
BEST SKI AREA EVENT Can 34,000 people be wrong? If anyone wondered if Killington could outdo itself in its second year of hosting the best women ski racers in the world, the Beast World Cup answered that. With a course that competitors described as “perfect,” parades of ski clubs from around New England, a free concert by Dispatch and an on-mountain village of vendor booths, the Killington “Beast” World Cup has become the kick-off party for the ski season. 1. Killington World Cup 2. Pond Skimming 3. Tailgating
BEST NORDIC EVENT Since its first running in 1981, the competition at the Craftsbury Marathon has grown bigger and better. This past January, the event dovetailed with the U.S. Super Tour, bringing some of the continent’s top racers to compete in sprints while others went for the “Marathon’s” longer distances, 48K, 33K and 16K. To give a sense of who's racing: local champ Hannah Dreissigacker, a 2014 Olympic biathlete won the women’s 48K. Hannah’s sister Emily competed in PyeongChang and their parents, both Olympic rowers, own the Craftsbury Outdoor Center. But the race also attracts recreational skiers who come for the chance to pole up the rolling hills and fly down forest trails. Runners-up included the Stowe Derby, (cancelled this year, for the third year running due to weather) and a new contender: the Camel’s Hump Challenge, which sends skiers on a 13-mile backcountry loop to benefit The Alzheimers’ Association. 1. Craftsbury Marathon 2. Stowe Derby 3. Camel’s Hump Challenge.
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Events to remember: Top, Killington's "Beast World Cup" drew crowds of more than 30,000. The Kelly Brush Ride (above left), attracts top cyclists and handcyclists and VMBAFest brings out the kid in everyone. Photos courtesy Killington, Kelly Brush Ride and by Greg Maino (VMBAFest).
BEST RUNNING EVENT
BEST CENTURY RIDE
In terms of sheer numbers, the Vermont City Marathon is a perennial winner in this category. The largest running race in the state, it attracts nearly 3,000 runners to the streets and hills of Burlington, before finishing along the waterfront bike path with views of Lake Champlain and the Adirondacks. What many say is the best part of the race? The pre-race training runs, options to do a relay, taiko drummers, and the crowds that line Church Street. This year, the 30th anniversary, there’s an added bonus in the form of Meb Kelfizighi, an Olympic medalist, 2014 Boston Marathon champion and 2009 New York Marathon winner. But before you despair of winning this year, know this: he’ll only be running as part of a relay, along with four runners selected for their inspirational stories. Also scoring with our readers is the Race to the Top of Vermont, a running and mountain biking race (choose, or do both) up Mt. Mansfield’s Toll Road, and the Middlebury Maple Run Sweetest Half,a 13.1 K which features pancakes and maple syrup for finishers. 1. Vermont City Marathon 2. Race to the Top of Vermont 3. Middlebury Maple Run Sweetest Half.
In just 13 years, the Kelly Brush Ride has grown from a ride that gathered a few hundred Middlebury college students, alumns and ski racers into the most popular ride in the state, with more than 800 riders raising more than $500,000 to benefit those with spinal cord injuries and ski racing safety. The ride starts and finishes at Middlebury College, where Kelly Brush was on the ski team before a fall left her with a spinal cord injury. Both Kelly Brush Davisson and Chris Waddell, a former extreme skier, are regulars in the hand bike division and ski teams from around the state come to ride the rural farmland roads that snake through Addison County. It’s not a race but with talent like this, it can feel like it. Runner-up is the Long Trail Century Ride, based at Long Trail’s riverside brewery in Bridgewater, followed by the Harpoon Point to Point ride, this year starting at Ascutney Trails and passing through the hills and backroads of the Connecticut River valley. If you think cycling and beer go hand and hand, you're right. 1. Kelly Brush Ride 2. Long Trail Century Ride 3. Harpoon Point to Point.
With gravel grinding growing (say that three times fast), we have a new category this year. Rasputitsa, the spring sufferfest that takes riders on the dirt roads (and sometimes snow-covered dirt roads) of the Northeast Kingdom in chilly April (April 21, this year) has been the undeniable king of these events. “It’s not about racing, it’s about challenging the human spirit,” the website states. That challenge often involves mud, sleet and even snow so thick you have to hike your bike for miles through it. And then there’s Cyberia, a 1.5mile stretch of rutted hilly road that often has even top cyclists, such as Tim Johnson or Ansel Dickie, crying for mercy. In four years, race founders Heidi Myers (of Louis Garneau) and Anthony Moccia have grown this to attract nearly 750 riders in 2017 and the event often closes out. It’s also spawned others, such as the Waterbury Area Trail Alliance Gravel Ride and the Overland Grand Prix, which has even drawn mountain bike legend Ned Overend from Colorado to compete. 1. Rasputitsa 2. WATA Gravel Ride 3. Overland Grand Prix.
TOUGEST EVENT Once again, readers voted Joe De Sena’s Spartan Race, held in Killington each year, the toughest event in Vermont. The Ultra division sends teams and individuals out on a 30-mile course, attacking more than 60 obstacles with a winning finishing time of seven hours. Those “obstacles” can include anything from hauling a bucket of gravel up the mountain to shimmying up a rope, in the mud, to hitting a target with a bow and arrow. The mother of all obstacle races, Spartan has become a worldwide phenomenon. Runners-up are the Race to the Top of Vermont (the race up Mt.
Mansfield) and the Vermont 100, an ultramarathon held in West Windsor that is one of the four events in the Grand Slam of ultra-running. 1. Spartan Ultra 2. Race to the Top of Vermont 3. Vermont 100.
was also a favorite as were the cabins and farm-fresh meals at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center. 1. Trapp Family Lodge 2. Hotel VT 3. Craftsbury Outdoor Center
The Matterhorn wins just about every “best après-ski bar” contest out there, be it from national magazines, USA Today or local papers. And it deserves it. The vibe owners Charlie and Louise Shaffer have built there has been going on strong for decades and the fresh sushi roles and wood fired pizza make this far more than just a great place to drink. But in Stowe, newcomer, Doc Pond’s has become a contender for best watering hole, thanks to the ever-changing eclectic beer menu and owner Eric Warnstedt’s (of Hen of the Woods fame) passion for good simple food and vinyl you can rock out to. Waterbury’s Prohibition Pig is also nearly as famous among the sports set and a must-stop for anyone headed north or south on I-89 who wants a great burger or smoked meats and a cold beer brewed on premises. 1. Matterhorn, Stowe 2. Doc Ponds, Stowe.3. Prohibition Pig, Waterbury
BEST APRES BAR
We love this category because we learn about events like the Sleepy Hollow Funny Twunny, a 20-mile-ish race where you can deduct time by telling a funny joke. The Twunny didn’t win this year but perennial favorites did: Pond skimming, the annual Santa Run (how can hundreds of runners dressed as Santa Claus not be fun?) and the Polar Plunge to benefit Special Olympics Vermont. 1. Pond skimming 2. Santa Claus Race 3. Polar Plunge
PLACES WE LOVE BEST SPORTS TOWN Sure, Burlington is the largest city in Vermont and you’d expect it to win by sheer size. But if you consider what’s going on in the Queen City, it’s hard to argue that it’s not one of the best sports towns, anywhere. In the last few years we’ve seen the bike path rebuilt, connecting downtown to the Champlain Islands just a short ride away. The A-Dog Skate Park was completed and now, next door, the architecturally stunning new Community Sailing Center opens this spring. A new marina is in the works and the owners of Wind N Waves purchased the waterfront Blodgett building and plan to make that a watersports center for SUPs, kiteboarding and much more. Then, last month, PetraCliffs announced it was buying the space next to City Market and putting in an expanded climbing gym. BTV just keeps getting better. Runner-ups are pretty cool too: Stowe, with its growing mountain bike network, miles of crosscountry trails and, of course the alpine skiing and riding was second and East Burke/Burke, home of Kingdom Trails and Burke Mountain, third. 1. Burlington 2. Stowe 3. East Burke
BEST GYM With five locations in the Burlington area (Essex, Williston and South Burlington) The Edge Sports & Fitness won best gym. More than just a place to work out, the Edge has classes and experts who can help with every aspect of fitness ranging from physical therapy to nutrition, OCR training to Zumba. And with indoor tracks, tennis and squash courts, pools, and spin studios it’s hard to imagine a sport you wouldn’t do there —although The Swimming Hole’s pool and PetraCliffs’ climbing wall are
Pro skater Sean Malto at the A-Dog Williams Memorial skate park in Burlington. Photo courtesy of Mountian Dew Sidewinder and Tap ‘n Die. But top honors in the “Best Trail” category went to Florence, the super-flowy trail in Stowe’s Cady Hill system. Cady Hill trails also took second overall (despite the devastating wind storm that closed them early last fall) with Ascutney Trails was third. 1. Kingdom Trails, East Burke 2. Cady Hill, Stowe 3. Ascutney Trails, West Windsor
BEST STATE PARK
Grading on a curve at Kingdom Trails. Photo Ryan Thibault
pretty hard to beat. 1. The Sports & Fitness Edge 2. The Swimming Hole 3. PetraCliffs.
BEST MOUNTAIN BIKING No question, Kingdom Trails’ 100-plus miles of trails are among the best in the country. And this mountain biking mecca is getting better. Trail manager CJ Scott works with more than 10 people, a staffing budget of $150,000, and many more volunteers to build and maintain trails each summer. Last summer, a new 2.3-mile trail, Ware’s Davis, expanded into a new area between Burke Hollow Road and Darling Hill Road ,and work was done to clear out a new swimming hole. Executive director Abigail Long (formerly Executive Director of the Leadville Trail 100 Legacy) was chosen from more than 100 applicants this past fall. And WinterBike keeps going strong (March 3, 2018) and growing the winter cycling season. KT was also the site of two of our readers’ favorite mountain bike trails,
With new mountain biking trails, SUP and kayak rentals readily available, cabins, remote campsites and nary a house to be seen from the water, Little River State Park won for best state park, once again. However, remote and quiet Green River Reservoir was close behind, followed by Burton Island. There’s a theme here: waterfront camping can’t be beat. 1. Little River State Park, Waterbury 2. Green River Reservoir, Morrisville 3. Burton Island, St. Albans.
BEST HOTEL OR LODGE If you’re not planning on pitching a tent, the best place to check is the Trapp Family Lodge. With an increasing number of events right there (this summer, watch for the return of the Catamount Ultra plus some new ultra-running races), 65 kilometers of running and Nordic ski trails, backcountry skiing, summer concerts and a private network of mountain bike trails, Trapp Family Lodge is hard to beat. And then there’s the von Trapp beer and bierhall. Check in, run yourself silly on the trails, down a Helles then tuck in beneath a fluffy white duvet with views across the moonlit Worcester Range. Burlington’s Hotel VT (which has cruiser bikes guests can borrow)
BEST BREWERY Vermont is home to some of the toprated beers in the world and tiny Hill Farmstead, in Greensboro, produces many of them, so no wonder Hill Farmstead won Best Brewery. But not far behind is the emerging von Trapp Brewing, which is turning out award-winning Austrian-style lagers and serving up seasonal specials in its giant bierhall–conveniently located at the bottom of the mountain bike and crosscountry trail systems. Classic Long Trail Brewing earns third with its increasingly sports-appropriate brews such as Sick Day (logo features a snowboarder) and Flyin’ Ryan, named in memory of extreme skier Ryan Hawks. 1. Hill Farmstead 2. Von Trapp 3. Long Trail
BEST PIZZA When Ed Rovetto moved to Stowe in 2000, he brought with him family recipes for handtossed New York-style pizzas. The Rovetto family already owned 10 pizzerias up and down the East Coast and Stowe seemed like a good place to start another one. Flash forward and Piecasso has become a “destination” pizzeria. People come for specialty pies, such as the Portabello (made with mushrooms, Vermont chevre, mozzarella, spinach and fresh basil) or the Piecasso (mozzarella, ricotta, broccoli). But they also come because there’s always something going on, whether it’s a trivia contest (Wednesdays) or ski and snowboard movies (Thursdays). Not far behind is
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local favorite American Flatbread, with venues in Warren, Burlington and Middlebury and Folino’s in Shelburne. 1. Piecasso 2. American Flatbread 3. Folino’s
PEOPLE WHO MADE A DIFFERENCE MOST INSPIRING MALE ATHLETE Ryan Cochran-Siegle overcame multiple knee injuries to make the 2018 Olympic team. Then, in PyeongChang, the kid from Cochran’s turned in the best performance of the men on the U.S. Alpine Team two events: 11th in giant slalom and 14th in Super G. But it was his cousin, Robby Kelley, who won over Vermont Sports readers. Perhaps it was the fact that Kelley turned down a spot on the U.S. Ski Team, citing the fact that it would cost him more to train with the team than it would on his own. Perhaps it was the videos of him waking at the crack of dawn in May to ski gates in icy, rutted old snow, after camping out on Mt. Mansfield. Perhaps it was the scrappy, hilarious way he rallied a group of ski racers to form the Redneck Racing Team. Whatever it was, Kelley captured our hearts with his efforts, epitomizing the spirit which propelled his mother, Lindy Cochran Kelley, aunt Barabara Ann Cochran and nearly every other aunt, uncle and cousin in his family to the top of ski racing.
MOST INSPIRING FEMALE ATHLETE If we went simply by tallying votes, Mikaela Shiffrin would win this category. The Burke Mountain Academy grad proved she could do almost anything this year, not only dominating in slalom, where she’s been the overall World Cup champion, but winning the Olympic gold in giant slalom and earning podiums in World Cup downhills. But when we went to add up all the nominations for cross-country skiers such as Liz Stephen, Sophie Caldwell and Ida Sargent a larger story emerged. This year, our Most Inspiring Female Athlete goes to all the Vermont-born, -bred and -trained women on the U.S. Olympic cross-country ski team. Kikkan Randall and Vermont transplant Jessie Diggins may have been the ones in the spotlight for capturing the U.S.’ first Olympic cross-country gold in history, but it was the strength and camaraderie of the team that made this the strongest overall women’s cross-country team in U.S. history.
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Robby Kelley (left) with his mom, Lindy Cochran Kelley and cousin, Ryan Cochran-Siegle. Photo courtesy Cochran's
Vermont's Olympic dream team: Ida Sargent, Liz Stephen and Sophie Caldwell. Since November, Peru’s Sophie Caldwell has been on a World Cup podium four times, including winning gold on January 28 in the sprint freestyle in Seefeld, Austria and, with Newport, VT’s Ida Sargent, a bronze in the team sprint in Dresden, Germany two weeks earlier. Montpelier’s Liz Stephen has been a perennial backbone of the team and Sverre Caldwell, Sophie’s father, has overseen the Stratton Mountain Elite Team, which attracted not only the Vermont women but brought Diggins and up-andcoming racer Annie Hart from Minnesota to Stratton to train with them. And beyond that A team are a host of up-and-comers, including Elmore’s Kaitlin Miller. “It’s the strongest women’s team we’ve ever had,” said U.S. Ski and Snowboard’s Tom Kelly. As Peggy Shinn, author of World Class: The Making of the U.S. Women’s Cross-Country Team wrote in the January/February 2017 issue of Vermont Sports: It’s a sport where they really could view the glass as half empty—having had to overcome funding issues and injuries and
Photo by Reese Brown/USSA
illnesses in a brutally hard sport in which it takes decades to develop, and to compete against countries where doping has been rampant. But these women perpetually see the glass as half full. Through many ups and downs, they have had one goal in mind—to win an Olympic medal, especially in the team relay.
GREATEST CONTRIBUTION TO THE OUTDOORS How did one of the smallest states in the country, a place where snow, ice or mud cover trails for nearly half the year, a state with fewer than 620,000 people become the home of the largest state-wide mountain biking organization in the country? Over the years, the Vermont Mountain Biking Association has quietly grown. But in 2017, under the leadership of executive director Tom Stuessy, VMBA exploded. Membership went through the roof. Total numbers grew from 278 in 2016 to more than 950 in 2017, adding $30,000 to local chapters and creating a total base of
5,500 members. Out of state membership has also increased from 18 to 21 percent, and the association connected with groups in Canada to help expand the Northeast Regional Mountain Bike Alliance. VMBA funneled the surplus of new memberships into support for local chapters, which will collectively have more money to build and maintain trails this year. VMBA’s pool of grant money is set at $50,000—more than twice what is was in 2015. And its 2017 trail grant will support more than 13 new trails project. Perhaps the most exciting and largest trial project yet is The Velomont Trail. VMBA is working with The Rochester Area Sports Trail Alliance, the Catamount Trail, Vermont Huts Association and others to create a trail system that will connect Killington to Stowe. The best part? The trail will be 70 percent singletrack. Velomont marks VMBA’s first long-term trail project. The list keeps going: VMBA expanded the Vermont Mountain Bike Retailer Alliance to include 24 shops that will now offer an annual VMBA membership free to buyers of the first 25 bikes, valued at $1000 or more, sold in 2018. The association also expanded its relationship with VT Tourism & Marketing, and this year, it’s planning to embark on a long-range expansion plan with the state. The organization is even planning to spruce up and relaunch their website, with the support of Vermont company Cabot Creamery. If that weren’t enough, Vermont Mountain Bike Association executive director Tom Stuessy has been working on yet another project: VOICe. He’s gathered a network of Vermont businesses that have a stake in the success of Vermont’s outdoor recreation infrastructure. Together, they’ve been establishing a culture that supports the efforts of the nonprofits that contribute to the state’s outdoor recreation. VOICe includes successful businesses like Outdoor Gear Exchange, Cabot Creamery and FUSE Marketing and Vermont Sports. Then, of course, there’s VMBAFest– which tied with New England Mountain Bike Festival for best mountain bike event. With rides, mountain bike Olympics, bonfires and camping, it’s one big party. And this year, there’s a lot celebrate. Be there, at Mt. Ascutney, July 27-29.
OUTDOORS PERSON OF THE YEAR If you’ve ever hiked even a mile on the Long Trail, there’s one person whom you should take a moment to thank: Dave Hardy. Dave passed away at the age of 59 in November of 2017 after a year-long battle with cancer, but he left behind an epic legacy that’s centered along the spine of the Green Mountains and stretches far beyond.
One of VMBA's gung-ho chapters, the Mad River Riders, rallying at VMBAFest. Photo courtesy John Atkinson
Dave Hardy on the Long Trail. Photo courtesy GMC
Hardy became the Green Mountain Club’s Director of Trail Programs in 1999. In addition to maintaining relationships with landowners, state officials, and the Green Mountain National Forest to help expand the trail, Hardy made it his mission to carry out a project that had been talked about for more than 100 years: a footbridge across the Winooski River. Thanks to Dave’s vision and
really in that category—a legend.” Born into a hiking family, Dave had summited New Hampshire’s 48 high peaks by age 16, and through-hiked the Long Trail by 21. Soon after college, he left an engineering job behind to make a career out of hiking. At the Green Mountain Club, Hardy worked his way up from a summer field
energy, that bridge opened in June of 2015, saving Long Trail hikers from a dangerous 3-mile walk down U.S. 2 in Bolton. “In the annals of the club, there’s a handful of outsized figures—there’s James P. Taylor, who started the club, and professor Roy Buchanan, who basically did Dave’s job in the ‘40s and ‘50s,” said Richard Windish, former GMC president. “Dave is
assistant to the director of trail programs. There, he was responsible for all of the trails maintained by the GMC. “He had been in that job for so long that he was the job,” says former GMC President Richard Windish. “He had so much knowledge that died with him. He knew the trail so well. Nobody else knew it as well as he did, and probably no one ever will.” In early January of 2016, hundreds packed Waterbury’s Zen Barn to celebrate the life of Dave Hardy. A notification of Dave’s passing, posted on the GMC website by current president Mike DeBonis, is followed by a never-ending list of comments full of stories about Dave. Many include sharing a post-hike beer from the growlers of home brew Dave often brought along in the back of his car. “It is hard to think of anyone whose identity is more interwoven with the Long Trail and the community of trail stewards throughout New England than Dave’s,” the post reads. “Every mile of tread, shelter, bridge, privy, and waterbar on the 500-mile trail system is imprinted with his vision and unwavering passion.” —Emma Cotton, Lisa Lynn
Dandelion Run May 19, 2018
13.1, 6.2, 4, 2, and 1 Mile Run or Walk
Saturday, May 19, 2018
Derby Beach House 220 4 H Road, Derby, VT
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RESILIENCE LAST AUGUST, PAVEL CENKL RAN 360 KILOMETERS ABOVE THE ARCTIC CIRCLE. THIS SUMMER, HE’LL BIKE AND RUN THE LENGTH OF VERMONT. AND YOU CAN JOIN HIM. BY EMMA COTTON
In 2015, while running through Iceland, Cenkl created his own route, which was comprised of gravel roads, ancient Viking paths, and an open tundra landscape. Photo by Jill Fineis
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Resilience: /rə'zilyəns/ n. 1. The capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness. 2. The ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity —Merriam Webster
n the first day of August, 2017, Pavel Cenkl ran steadily up a mountainside in Abisko, Sweden, in the pouring rain. Behind him, snowcapped mountains towered over Torneträsk Lake. He had just bid farewell to his wife, Jen, and son, Orion. Ahead, lay 800 miles of The Arctic Trail—and he planned to run 500 of them over the next 12 days. Cenkl, a professor of environmental humanities at Sterling College in Craftsbury, Vt., had set out on his second long-distance run above the Arctic Circle. The first run, in the summer of 2015, was a 150-mile trek along western Iceland. These endeavors, part of an ongoing project he calls the Climate Run, were a chance for him to witness first-hand how climate change is impacting this delicate part of the earth. In Scandinavia, summer conditions are usually mild. Temperatures typically range from the mid-50s to the high 70s. Government-sponsored travel sites suggest that hikers prepare for rain and wind. But Cenkl encountered something different. Within the first five kilometers of his trek, he ran through vast snowfields. Rivers ran high with snowmelt.
When he came to the first river crossing, he realized that the trip he had so carefully planned was going to be tougher, and wetter, than he anticipated. “I was looking for a bridge,” he says, “But there was no bridge. There was just a snowfield that ended in a river. So I rolled up my running pants and stepped right in the water. Those are not August conditions.” On the third day of his run, Cenkl got lost. Having camped in Sweden the night before, he crossed over into Norway, and was 25 kilometers deep into a section of overgrown trail. The flooding waters had submerged bog bridges and bridges over rivers. No one had recently cleared the path, and birch and alder slapped Cenkl as he ran through it. Finally, he reached a big, open plateau where he could see the Swedish-Norwegian border. Before the trip, he had scoured what seemed like every inch of the trail by satellite, but with a malfunctioning GPS, he missed a trail junction and ran several kilometers in the wrong direction. Sensing his mistake, he dug into his pack and pulled out three different maps, trying to triangulate his location. “I came across 100 yards of trackless bog, but on the other side of it, I thought I could see this faint little bit of trail,” he says. “So I traipsed through the bog, got to the other side, and there was a rock sticking up that had a hand-painted, abbreviated name of the hut that the trail was supposed to lead to. I’m like, ‘yes!’ That was the first trail sign I’d seen in 20 kilometers. So I knew I was on the way.”
It might have been relief, or adrenaline, but something about that moment that made Cenkl take pause. The shadows grew longer in the late-afternoon sun, and the air was silent. A line of cairns guided his way along a ridgeline. “Somewhere online I published a photo of me waving, and you can see my shadow in the distance,” he says. “I even took a short video. I just needed to stop and somehow document this experience—I was fully connecting with this place. That was the highlight of the run, for sure.” A few dozen kilometers later, Cenkl came to a larger river. He had done many river crossings that day, but when he examined the water from the river’s edge, he discovered that it might be impassible: a class II rapid. The river wasn’t supposed to be this high, but with all of the unseasonable snowmelt, he guessed it would be chest-deep. It was getting late—Scandinavia was in a period of 24-hour sunlight—and he often ran until 10:30 p.m. His previous navigational blunder, along with the 55 kilometers he had already run that day, had made him reasonably exhausted. Unproductive thoughts circled his head. I can’t do this, he thought. I’m going to have to turn back. Pacing up and down the side of the river, he started to panic. He swore at it, like some do, out in the middle of nowhere. He wondered why someone hadn’t built a bridge—there was a constriction, they could have. Eventually, he took a breath. I’ve got to calm down,
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he thought. I’ve got to eat dinner. I’ve got to get some sleep. In the tent, he searched his map. To avoid the river, he would have had to turn around and go back the 55 kilometers, down into a fjord, find the village, and take a boat that only goes there a couple of times a week. All of that—or he could cross this river, whose other side sat 50 yards away. Cenkl fell asleep. He woke up at 5 a.m. and immediately noticed a difference: the river sounded quieter. He threw everything in his backpack and ran toward the river’s edge. It looked lower. I just have to do this, he thought. He stepped into the now-waist-deep water, still a class II rapid. Though he felt completely at the mercy of the river, he began to move forward. Falling wasn’t an option: there was a bigger rapid downstream. Placing his poles strategically, he took careful steps and slowly worked his way to the other side. “I was so exhausted and relieved,” he says. “All I could think was, everything is going to work out. I did this.” And then he had breakfast.
BECOMING RESILIENT In his teaching, Cenkl often talks about climate ‘resilience.’ He focuses on the idea that humans, and all life on Earth, must determine how to adapt in the face of challenge. Athletics, he says, helps him practice this concept. “For me, endurance gets me to the place where everything else is stripped away. You so immerse yourself in the natural world that you are obviously a part of it,” he says. “Endurance athletics allows me to do that. You realize that the boundary you perceive between yourself and the world really isn’t there.” Cenkl grew up in the White Mountains,
Rivers ran unseasonably high with snowmelt during Cenkl's 2017 run in Scandiniavia.
where his parents put him on skis when he was three years old. His first long-distance running stint was a 52-mile ultra run through the Whites, when he was in college. He was working for the Appalachian Mountain Club at the time, and it was then that he first started to feel a deep connection to wilderness and a desire to preserve it. Now, endurance racing is a regular thing for Cenkl. One of his favorite races is the Leadville Trail 100, a 100-mile race across the Colorado Rockies. He’s also a regular participant in the Green Mountain Skimo Race Series, and runs with his students in the Tarc Winter Ultra, a 40-miler just north of Boston, every year. As Cenkl’s athletic resume grew to include cross-country, backcountry skiing and ultra-running, so did the link between endurance sports and climate resilience.
Jen Schoen, Cenkl's wife, helps a very tired Cenkl keep the pace at the end of a 50-mile day in Iceland. Photo by Jill Fineis
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Photo courtesy Pavel
Recreating outdoors allowed him to experience the remaining wild, to see the world as it might have existed before the Industrial Revolution set off a chain of atmospheric contamination, or before seven billion people reshaped the surface of the earth. Athletes are dependent on the patterns of the natural world: snow in the winter, warm air in the summer, April rivers bustling with freshly melted snow. As Cenkl sees it, the natural world is dependent on athletes, and non-athletes, to preserve a world they so love. “Once, we recognize that the system is so complex, how can we, with good conscience, continue the way that we’re going, in terms of affecting the climate in a negative way?” he asks. The Arctic is warming twice as fast as
the rest of the world. Temperatures there have increased by as much as 7.2 degrees in the last 50 years, according to the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment. Chunks of sea ice equivalent to the size of Norway have melted away. Cenkl visited Norway and Sweden in August, when he expected snow to be absent. Instead, he found giant snowfields that were melting, causing rivers to overflow. As a result, many sections of the trail were difficult to navigate. While the unusually cold temperatures probably weren’t a symptom of climate change, Cenkl thinks the unusual size of the snowfields might point to the extra 25 percent of precipitation the Arctic has experienced in the last century. “The seasonality was all askew,” he says. “They were five weeks behind their regular snowmelt. The trail was much more difficult as a result of that. I think that that puts a fine point on, ‘it’s not global warming, it’s climate change.’”
TIME TO RUN The Climate Run idea was born during Cenkl’s early years at Sterling, where he’s also director of the school’s athletics program and the coach of the trail running team. At the small college, home to just 700 students, Cenkl has found an intellectual sweet-spot where he can discuss climate resilience issues with students while they run together through the college’s 390 acres of forest. Soon, he wondered if he could engage with the public on a similar level. A plan began to form: he would embark on an adventure in a region of the world that was particularly affected by climate change. By doing so, he could spark discussions with students, scientists and the public in the process. What better place than the Arctic?
With that, he set the plotting in motion. He made his own route for the 2015 run through Iceland, charting out the 150 miles on Viking trails, dirt roads, and open tundra. In Scandinavia, he discovered the Arctic Trail, which made things a bit simpler. The trail winds for 800 kilometers down the border of Norway and Sweden. It passes through four national parks: the Øvre Dividal National Park, Reisa National Park, Abisko National Park and Padjelanta National Park. With huts along the way, Cenkl decided it was possible to run 500 miles of the trail, starting at its northernmost point in Abisko, Sweden, and ending in Sulitjelma, Norway. The entire run took place above the Arctic Circle. Once the plans were set, he started to train. In Scandinavia, he planned to run 50 kilometers per day for 12 days. At home, he prepared by slowly increasing the number of miles he ran until he hit 80 miles per week. “I would do longer runs over the weekend, or back-to-back longer runs,” he says. “They might be 15 miles one day, 25 the next.” He sprinkled the regimen with ultra marathons, 50-kilometer runs and 50-milers. With light traveling in mind, he bought an Aarn pack and filled it with only the essentials—several days’ worth of dehydrated meals, GPS and communication supplies, lightweight clothing, a one-pound tent—and tested it out on a 20-mile outand-back Monroe Skyline section of the Long Trail. Fully loaded, the pack weighed 23 pounds. Finally, Cenkl connected with scientists in Scandinavia. When the run was complete, he wanted to relay their research on his blog and in presentations to folks back home. He reached out to Alexandra Messerli, a glaciologist with the Norwegian
Cenkl's titles at Sterling college include director of athletics, professor of environmental humanities, and associate dean of academics. Photo by Emma Cotton
Polar Institute in Tromsø, and Mads Forchhammer, a biologist at the University Center in Svalbard, Norway, who studies reindeer. He had thought these connections would help him learn about climate change in the Arctic. Instead, he gained most of his knowledge about the far north’s changing conditions first-hand.
LOOKING FOR A SOLUTION Cenkl didn’t finish the run. He checked out on day eight, at the 360-kilometer mark. The snow and flooding combined with a stress fracture on his left shin had become too much. “I just thought, 'this is not going to be useful or fun,” he says. “If I have to wince in pain every time I have to take a step, and I’m not going as fast as I want to or covering the distance, then I’ll come back another time.'” When he came home, Cenkl gave
presentations around Vermont, and around the country, about his time in Scandinavia. At the end, he would open the floor for questions. A few popped up over and over. He was most commonly asked: “What was your favorite part?” “The first time I was asked that, I stopped and said, ‘Actually, having this conversation right here,’” he says. “The more I think about that, the more that is actually my favorite, and perhaps the most important part of what I do—having the opportunity to share the stories and maybe inspire people to go do similar things.” But there’s a much harder question asked by both adults and kids: “What’s the solution?” When Cenkl first started thinking about the Climate Run, he wanted to focus his discussion on athletic endeavors. How could athletes recreate in a way that reduces their carbon footprint? How can the athletic
community keep climate change in mind when carving trails, buying equipment and traveling around the world? “It’s hard to reconcile,” he says. “I got a bit of criticism, as you might expect. People said, ‘You’re flying to Iceland to bring attention to—climate resilience?’ And I thought, well, that’s true, however, none of us can really bear up to that sort of scrutiny. Simply by living where we live, by being Americans in the twenty-first century, our ecological footprint is so vast. I asked myself, ‘Is it worth an air flight if I’m going to be able to talk to a thousand middle and high school students about building climate resilience? How is that going to inform my teaching, and how many people will actually be affected by those stories? I started thinking, it’s not really about the individual choices. Those are important, too, but it’s much more about making change on a much broader, systemic level.” While he admits those thoughts are still on his mind, and still an important part of the conversation, the discussion has become broader. “And so my answer is that it’s really about building community,” he says. “I think that’s a little eye-opening for people who thought they could just recycle and it would make things all better. You need to have a get-together with your neighbors and talk about how you’re going to live together in this world that’s changing.”
CLIMATE CHANGE AT HOME Cenkl’s runs might have focused on the Arctic, but in his own backyard, the climate is changing fast. Vermont is warming at almost twice the speed of the rest of the country, and winters are affected the most. “I think it’s obvious when we look outside the window now,” Cenkl said on a snowless day this January, “winters are a whole lot
MARCH/APRIL 2018 | VTSPORTS.COM 27
shorter.” During the winter of 2015-16, the warmest winter in all 121 years of record keeping for the United States, Vermont received half its normal snowfall. On the whole, the state continues to see snow, but that doesn’t surprise climate scientists, who say Vermont may see even more snow than usual in the next 25 years, due to the 5.9 additional inches of precipitation, on average, that Vermont has gained since the 1940s. Don’t be fooled: temperatures are still warming. Eric Kelsey, the research director at the Mount Washington Observatory, has been studying the trends. “If it warms by 4 degrees here, which it has over the last 40 years or so, it’s still cold enough for snow,” he says. Compared to a human lifetime, the warming is slow.” According to a 2011 study by the state of Vermont’s Agency of Natural Resources, titled Potential Impacts of Climate Change on Recreation in Vermont, "By the end of the century, the average number of reliable snow-covered days in the Northeast is expected to decrease to as few as 13-25 days." “From a recreation perspective,” Kelsey says, “what really stinks is that we’re getting more warm spells. I call it the Swiss-cheese-ification of winter. If winter is the cheese, we’re getting holes punched in it by warm weather.” The ski industry has felt the warmth: many Vermont resorts have invested millions in snow-making systems so they can recover from melting events in a matter of hours. But if global emissions aren’t curbed, Vermont’s temperature could rise between 3.6 and 9.7 degrees more by 2050. Winter would be cut short. Without snowfall during the holiday season, for example, ski resorts could lose as much as a third of their revenue. The warming trends bring on a host of other ecological consequences. For wildlife, the possibilities are endless: invasive species are more likely to overtake native plants, pests will migrate north, and the temperatures would likely create an uninhabitable ecosystem for some native plants, like sugar maples. To an extent, these consequences have already taken hold: Moose are dying from an onslaught of winter ticks. Their carcasses are often found with tens of thousands of the parasites covering their bodies. Deer ticks have prevailed where there once were few: In 2006, 105 cases of Lyme’s Disease were reported in Vermont. In 2016, 488 cases were reported. Cenkl says it’s too late to resist these changes. “You can’t just say, ‘the sea levels are going to rise, so let’s build a wall around Manhattan so that we can continue as we are,’” he says. “You have to accept the fact that things are going to change. How do we then change our economy, our systems, our
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WHAT’S IN HIS PACK? Total: 23 pounds
Marmot Modi down jacket
Aarn Marathon Magic 33-liter pack
Gore Running Wear Gore-Tex pants and jacket
15- and 20-oz. water bottles
Marmot microfleece hoodie
50-oz water bladder 3 Good To-Go dehydrated meals, 6 packets instant oatmeal, assorted bars, gels, and snack foods
Sawyer mini water filter
JetBoil Zip Cooking System and Fuel
Enlightened Equipment Revelation sleeping bag 30º/ 950 fill
Go Pro Hero Session 5
Therm-A-Rest Neo Air Xlite sleeping pad
Big Agnes Fly Creek Ultra single tent and ground cloth
Garmin/Delorme InReach Goal Zero Nomad 7 Plus Solar Panel & Goal Zero Venture 30
Cenkl packed light for his eight-day trip through Scandinavia. Photo courtesy Pavel Cenkl
education, to meet this changing world?” But resilience takes work. It requires entire populations to come together and look the impending change straight in the eye. Then comes the muscle power: sizing up the changes and developing an intelligent, comprehensive understanding of how they can best be addressed. That’s why, this summer, Cenkl is hoping to bring the Climate Run to Vermont. In June, he plans to complete the Vermont 100-200: bike Route 100 from the Canadian to the Massachusetts border. Then, he’ll run the 273 miles of the Long Trail. Until now, he’s run alone, but this time, he’s inviting people from around the state to join him and engage in a conversation about climate resilience. “Who are the people, and what are the organizations in Vermont, along the spine of the Green Mountains, that are participating in building a climate resilient community?” he says. (Check vtsports.com for updates about the run.) On the run, he hopes to check the boxes of all of his collective missions: bringing together a community, discussing climate resilience, and most of all, pushing himself on the very trails he’s looking to preserve.
VERMONT’S CLIMATE CHANGE, BY THE NUMBERS 1.3 —degrees Fahrenheit warmer Vermont is, on average, since 1960. 2X —Vermont winter temperatures are rising twice as fast as summer temperatures. 5.9 — Inches, on average, annual precipitation in Vermont has increased since 1960. 48 — Percent, how much of that annual precipitation in Vermont has increased has occurred since 1990. 7 — The number of fewer days Vermont rivers and lakes are frozen, by decade. 105 —The average number of cases of Lyme disease reported in 2006. 488— The number of cases of Lyme disease reported in 2016. 50 — The number of snowy years Vermont has left, if the current temperature trends continue. In mountainous areas, snowfall may increase in the next 25 years with the increase of precipitation, but as temperatures warm, snow will transition to rain.
50 — The state government has committed to curbing greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent by 2028.
90 — The percent of energy the state strives to have coming from renewables by 2050 1 billion — Dollars generated by winter recreation in Vermont
Sources: Vermont's Agency of Natural Resources, the 2014 Vermont Climate Assessment, and the EPA's 2016 report titled "What Climate Change Means For Vermont"
KI & RIDE SHOPS AROUND VERMONT
1184 Williston Rd. South Burlington, VT 802-862-2714 • AlpineShopVT.com Hours: Mon.–Fri. 10am-7pm; Sat. 9am–7pm; Sun. 9am–5pm (Hours change seasonally)
Vermont’s favorite Outdoor Gear & Clothing Store since 1963. Alpine Shop is conveniently located off Rte. 89 Exit 14E, with ample parking and riding space. Alpine Shop has over 18,000 square feet of outdoor gear, stylish outerwear & casual clothing for men & women and is home to Vermont’s largest ski and snowboard seasonal leasing inventory starting at $99/season.
2 85 Main St. Burlington, VT 802-658-3313 • skirack.com Hours: Mon.–Sat. 10am–7pm, Sun. 11am–5pm Service & Rentals Mon - Sat, 8am Skirack is located at the corner of Main and Pine streets in downtown Burlington. Since 1969, Skirack has been Vermont’s locally owned source for downhill and cross country skis, snowboards, bikes and running shoes. Plus full service tuning including infrared waxing and high performance base grinding. Daily ski and snowboard rentals and youth season leasing.
5 2886 Killington Rd, Killington, VT
(802) 422-3234 • basinski.com Hours: Mon.- Thurs. 8:15am-6pm; Fri. 8am–12am; Sat.-Sun. 7:15am– 7pm Basin Sports is one of Killington’s oldest businesses. Located right at the base of the access road to Killington Ski Resort, Basin is home to men’s and women’s alpine skis, snowboards, fashionable and technical outerwear, and the best gear from around the world. Reserve your ski and snowboard rentals/demos from Basin online and receive a special discount.
518-523-3764 • highpeakscyclery.com Hours: Mon.–Fri. 9am–6pm, Sun. 9am–5pm Lake Placid’s premier bike and ski shop with professional Nordic and Alpine ski services including stone-grinding, boot-fitting and much more. We also offer a full selection of Atomic, Fischer, Alpina, Rossignol and Swix products. Check out our inventory of climbing and camping gear or spend an afternoon climbing in our indoor rock gym. If that isn’t enough, you can hire one of our licensed guides to take you into the backcountry for a day of Adirondack adventures. New! Basecamp lodges.
7 37 Church St. Burlington, VT
Village Sport Shop, in Lyndonville, Vermont, was “born out of a love of the outdoors.” For 35 years, the Village Sport Shop has been a destination for sports enthusiasts of all ages and abilities to find quality, competitively priced sporting goods. The store provides sales of a carefully selected collection of outdoor gear, equipment and clothing. They also provide rental equipment as well as repairs and service on equipment.
The Outdoor Gear Exchange located on Church Street in beautiful Burlington, strives to offer a wide spectrum of prices, from consignment items to last-year’s closeouts to manufacturers’ newest designs. Staying true to their name, the OGE’s storefront is piled with gear on sale for all things outdoors. They also have an excellent service staff sure to help you with a missing bolt or loose piece of equipment.
4 40 Main Street Montgomery Center, VT
802-326-3073 • firsttraxvt.com Hours: Sun.–Thurs. 9am-5pm, Fri.-Sat. 9am-6pm
At First Trax, we pride ourselves on customer service and are rider-owned and operated. We want to pass on our expert advice to help with your next purchase of ski, board, mountain bike or road bike and gear. First Trax has always been known as the best ski, board and bike tuning service in the Jay Peak, Vermont area.
802-860-0190 • gearx.com Hours: Mon.–Thurs. 10am–8pm; Fri.–Sat. 10am–9pm, Sun. 10am–6pm
LOCAL SKI LOCAL. SHOP LOCAL. ADVERTISE LOCAL.
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2733 Main St. Lake Placid, NY
511 Broad St, Lyndonville, VT
802-626-8448 • villagesportshop.com Hours: Mon-Fri 8:30am-6pm; Sat & Sun 8am-5:30pm
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8 1726 Sugarbush Access Rd. Warren, VT 1-888-888-9131 • alpineoptions.com Hours: Mon.-Thurs. 8:30am-6pm, Fri. 8:30am-10pm, Sat. 7:30–6pm, Sun. 8am–6pm
Over the past 20 years Alpine Options has evolved into one of the premiere ski shops in New England. We are conveniently located on the Sugarbush Access Road in Warren, one mile from Sugarbush Resort and six miles from Mad River Glen. Alpine Options offers a complete selection of alpine ski equipment, backcountry specialty gear, technical ski apparel and accessories. We also offer alpine, backcountry, snowboard rentals and full season equipment leasing for children. Our expert team is here to make your ski experience the best.
9 2012 Depot St., Manchester Ctr., VT
(802) 367-3118 • bradlysproski.com Hours: Mon.-Wed. 8am–6pm, Thurs.-Sat. 8am–8pm, Sun. 8am–5pm. Bradley’s Pro Shop is owned and operated by John Bradley — a former professional ski racer who has skied and raced all over the world. His passion and expertise is reflected in Bradley’s Pro Shop. John comes from a family of several professional athletes. Other Bradley’s include World Golf Hall Of Famer Pat Bradley, and PGA Tour star Keegan Bradley. Come visit us for ski tuning, rentals and service. Bradley’s Pro Shop also has an extensive inventory of outerwear clothing. At Bradley’s their mission is your skiing enjoyment.
MARCH/APRIL 2018 | VTSPORTS.COM 29
When Katie Brooks first started skiing uphill, there weren't many women involved with the sport. Now, she's teaching young girls how to skin. Photo courtesy Katie Brooks
THE RANDO RACER Name: Katie Brooks Age: 60 Lives in: Dorset Occupation: Owner, Vermont Wood Pellet Company Family: Husband, Chris; Sons, Austen and Oliver Primary sports: Skiing, uphill endurance racing.
atie Brooks admits she often gets lapped in the Northeast Rando Race Series, but she doesn’t let that bother her. A former press secretary at the White House and an owner of Vermont Pellet Company, she gets a runner’s high from skinning to the top of the mountain and a reminder of her racing past as she skis down. Brooks hopes to pass on her love of VS: How did you get into randonnee racing? KB: I belong to the Dorset Hiking Club and we go out hiking every Sunday. I used to get frustrated in the winter when I was on snowshoes. I could get to the top as fast as the people on skins and skis, but they would speed past me on the way down. John and Marilyn Hand introduced me to the gear ten years ago. I’ve been doing all the races in the Northeast Rando Race Series ever since, though two years ago I broke a rib when my dog decided to jump in front of me and last year I broke three ribs when I tripped during my turn to bring beer to ski patrol. VS: What do you love about it? KB: I think it’s the same feeling that people who run get. You just get in a pace that is really hard for the first ten minutes but once you get going it’s fun and it feels so good to get to the summit. Most of my competitors are runners and they can beat me on the uphill, but they have really skinny skis so I can generally outski them. I’m not in it for speed, but for the exercise and the thrill I get from racing. There is also a great sense of camaraderie. When the other racers pass me they say, “good job, good job.”
30 VTSPORTS.COM | MARCH/APRIL 2018
VS: Is there any special training? KB: For me, training means hiking peaks all summer and fall. Ascending alone is magical. The woods are alive and always changing as I pass by the big stands, the low brush, the forest beds, always changing color and form. I can hear the wind and the birds and the sounds I make gliding with skis or stepping with boots on rock, ice, and fresh snow. I make note of the smells and the coolness as I get close to the top. The balsam and pine smells are especially welcoming. VS: Have you seen the sport grow? KB: Over the past three years I’ll look at the roster of the U.S. Ski Mountaineering Association and there are so many more people. I used to win first place for women in all the races because there were no other women, but now there are women moving to New England from out West and they do things like allnight mountaineering races and they’re really fast. I’ve learned a lot from them. VS: How do you keep from overheating in a rando race? KB: Just about everyone wears Lycra suits but I stick to wool layers and a wind jacket for the way down. Wool wicks really well. I carry an extra pair of glove liners because the wind can be so cold that sometimes you need to put on dry gloves midway up the mountain. I wear down mittens for the downhill, but the runs aren’t that long. By the time the cold gets to you, it’s already time to skin up. VS: Do you have any favorite places to skin and ski? KB: I skin Bromley every day because
I’m a volunteer patroller there. Bromley is one of the few mountains left with no restrictions on skinning, but even without that, I think it’s the best mountain around. I grew up skiing at Magic and I still enjoy going there. I run a glades clinic there every year on the St. Patrick’s Day weekend and I love the trails there. VS: Tell us about She Jumps and how you got involved. KB: It’s a 10-year-old program that started in the West by extreme skier Lynsey Dyer and a group of elite women skiers. They wanted to form a non-profit to help girls reach their potential. I was invited to a night ski event at Berkshire East and I helped some girls learn to skin uphill. It was a really fun night and they asked me to be an ambassador. Since then, we’ve added ambassadors in Sugarbush and Burlington, as well as in New Hampshire, New York, and Massachusetts. Each of us is responsible for four annual events which raise money for a Northeast Wild Skills weekend for girls 8 to 18. The weekends involve multiple sports like rock climbing and mountain biking, as well as compass skills. All the girls get a T-shirt and a tutu. Two of the events I’ve led are a hike up Equinox Mountain and a snowshoe to the top of Bromley Mountain for chocolate decadence. This year we had a ski day at Stowe on December 9 and one at Sugarbush on January 20 which was co-sponsored by K2 and coincided with International Women’s Ski Day.
VS: How are you involved with the Green Mountain Club? KB: I do a lot of hiking on the Long Trail but I’m also on the Guide Committee and I lead a number of hikes with the Manchester section and get to tell people about the observation tower we want to build at Bromley. I just got certified with Mountain Travel and Rescue One. We did a 48-hour camping trip on Mt. Greylock and Ragged Mountain, learning GPS and compass skills and how to conduct a search. Our group can be called by towns or police and fire departments to help them in cases of a lost child, a wandering person with Alzheimer’s or even a mass casualty situation. VS: You’ve had a pretty interesting work history. Can you tell us about that? KB: I started out at CBS Radio Network News in New York City, in sales. When I moved to Vermont I handed out MTV swag at WEQX and was hired there full time. My worst job was press secretary for Barbara Bush in 1979 in Washington. I got fired for insisting that she choose an issue to be passionate about and for failing to get her needlepoint work published in women’s magazines. My best job was getting promoted by her husband to be his director of audio services for his first Presidential campaign. In 1993 I bought a Rutland radio station that was off the air. I made a lowball offer and became the first female radio station owner in the northeast. In 2008, when oil prices were so high, the sales for wood pellets rose 600 percent and there was a scarcity so I thought that would be a good line of work. My husband, Chris, and I started our own mill in the Rutland Airport Industrial Park. It was a really huge effort, and after three years, the Vermont Wood Pellet Company became profitable. We’re now building another plant in Gilman. When I see an opportunity, I go for it. And I retired two years ago. VS: Do you have any advice for older athletes? KB: Don’t overdo it. Take two days off a week at least to let your body rest. Too many runners destroy their knees because they can’t stop running. I learned the hard way and got arthritis in my thumbs from pulling the poles going uphill. —Phyl Newbeck
RACE & EVENT GUIDE
LISTING YOUR EVENT IN THIS CALENDAR IS FREE AND EASY. VISIT VTSPORTS.COM/ SUBMIT-AN-EVENT OR E-MAIL EDITOR@ VTSPORTS.COM. ALL AREA CODES ARE 802. ALL LOCATIONS ARE IN VERMONT, UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED. FEATURED EVENTS, IN YELLOW, PAY A NOMINAL FEE.
NORDIC SKIING/SKIMO MARCH 3 | Skimo Challenge, Jay Peak Jay Peak hosts a 9-mile skimo race with 5,250 feet of climbing. The course includes a steep boot pack, many transitions and off-piste descents. Part of SkimoEast’s race series. skimoeast.com 3 | Relay For Life Nordic Style, Jay Peak Teams and individuals camp out on the snow while taking turns for eight hours skiing or snowshoeing around the ski trails at Jay Peak’s Nordic Center. Live entertainment and food are available all night long. main.acsevents.org/ 3 | Frigid Infliction & Test Your Nettle, Bolton Valley With your team of 2 or 3, navigate through the backcountry of Bolton Valley (8 hours), or, if that's too much time in the cold, Test Your Nettle for 3-5 hours. Registration includes a post-event dinner and raffle entry. gmara.org/frigid 4 | Pico Skimo, Mendon Ski mountaineering comes to Pico with a new race organized by the Endurance Society, with three laps, gaining 2,000 feet up the mountain. endurancesociety.org 5 | Strafford Nordic Relays, Strafford A sprint relay race for teams of two. Skate race in the morning followed by classic races in the afternoon. Free Strafford Organic Creamery ice cream for all participants. straffordnordicskiing.com
8 | 32nd Lake Placid Loppet Cross Country Ski Races, Lake Placid, N.Y. The Mt. Hovenberg trails are the site of classic and freestyle races, 25K and 50K races, and a dinner and raffle after the race. lakeplacid.com
11 | 44th Mt. Washington Cup, Bretton Woods, N.H. Bretton Woods Nordic Center hosts a 10K freestyle race through their expansive, 100K trail network. nensa.net 11 | Bread Loaf Citizens Race, Rikert, Ripton The Rikert Nordic Center hosts their umpteenth running of the 5K cross country race with the traditional loaf of bread for the winner, plus a lollipop race for the kids. Costumes and spandex are highly encouraged. rikertnordic.com 17 | NE Rando Race Series "The Sun,"Bromley, Peru Bromley hosts a randonnee race with 4,600 vertical feet of climb. The course will feature a bootpack for the first time this year. nerandorace.blogspot.com 20 | Winter Wild Uphill Race, Ascutney Skin to Ascutney’s summit before skiing back down to the finish line. winterwild.com
ALPINE SKIING/RIDING MARCH 2 | Triple Crown Vertical Challenge, Mad River Glen, Fayston The second leg of the Triple Crown Competition Series sees how many vertical feet competitors can ski in a day. madriverglen.com 3 | Smugglers’ Notch Extreme Skiing Challenge, Jeffersonville Take on Smugglers’ most challenging lift-accessed terrain in this freeskiing competition, now in its fifth year. You're judged on line, control, technique, and style. snscvt.com
3-4 | Slash and Berm Banked Challenge, Killington Snowboarders race a technical slalom course with curves, knolls and drops on Bear Mountain. killington.com 4 | Jack Jump World Championships, Mount Snow Complete with speed, racing action and great crashes, the Jack Jump World Championships return to Mount Snow’s racecourse. mountsnow.com 4 | 7th Annual High Fives Fat Ski-A-Thon, Sugarbush, Warren Lap the Summit Quad on your widest planks. Each lap completed on “fat” skis of 70 millimeters or more raises money for the High Fives Foundation. sugarbush.com 9-10 | Carinthia Freeski Open, Mount Snow, West Dover Some of the best pros flock to this annual slopestyle competition, hosted by Mount Snow’s Carinthia Parks, with a $7,000 cash purse. An amateur competition gives out gear for the winners. The course promises to be spectator-worthy. mountsnow.com 9-11 | Vermont Open, Stratton At the mountain where snowboarding got its start, Stratton pays homage to the pioneers and welcomes new generations of riders in this annual event. Pros and amateurs compete for a $20,000 cash purse in rail jam, slopestyle, halfpipe and banked slalom stratton.com 10 | Triple Crown Mogul Challenge, Mad River Glen, Fayston In the third leg of Mad River Glen’s Triple Crown Competition Series, skiers are challenged with moguls on the Chute trail in front of a Single Chair audience. madriverglen.com 10 | Castlerock Extreme Challenge, Sugarbush, Warren Advanced skiers tackle the terrain beneath Sugarbush’s renowned Castlerock chair to find the best skier on the mountain and claim a $1,000 cash prize. sugarbush.com
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POND SKIMMING Grab your best 80’s garb or cosutme and sail across the ponds in this classic rite of passage into spring. March 24 | Mount Snow Resort, Bromley Mountain, Burke Mountain Resort March 31 | Stratton Mountain Resort, Bolton Valley Resort April 7 | Sugarbush Resort, Okemo Mountain Resort Smugglers' Notch Resort April 14 | Killington Resort April 21 | Jay Peak Resort 11 | Mountain Dew Vertical Challenge Series, Bromley, Peru Bolton hosts one of the final events in this series of free casual ski and snowboard races and festival events held at various ski resorts throughout the Northeast. skiverticalchallenge.com 11 | Can Do Ski for MS, Killington Pico hosts Ski for MS, a national event series and fundraiser for Muscular Dystrophy. Join in for an amateur ski race, the Jimmie Heuga Memorial Ski Down, and an après ski party with a raffle. A discounted $59 lift ticket is available to everyone who pays the $25 registration fee. 17-18 | Ski the East Freeride Tour Championships, Jay Peak Skiers charge some of Jay Peak’s most difficult terrain in pursuit of the series championship. jaypeakresort.com 17-18 | 24 Hours of Stratton Skiers and riders take to Stratton Mountain from dawn until dusk in this annual fundraiser for the Stratton Foundation. Awards go to the most vertical feet skied and most money raised. stratton.com 18-20 | Special Olympics Winter Games, Pice Special Olympics Vermont's annual Winter Games with alpine skiing and riding, Nordic skiing and snowshoeing for people of all abilities and age groups. New this year: The Winter Games has moved to Pico Mountain to accommodate more athletes. specialolympicsvermont.org
100 VERMONT TEENS
WILL SPEND THEIR SUMMER AT KROKA
25 | Bud Light Duct Tape Derby, Mount Snow Competitors construct their crafts out of cardboard, zipties, ducttape and a creative paint job before a downhill slide and skim across the pond. Prizes will be awarded for the best designs and performances. mountsnow.com 31 | Special Olympics Vermont Penguin Plunge, Stratton Mountain Resort Take an icy dip to support athletes with intellectual disabilities. The Penguin Plunge is open to anyone brave enough to take the Plunge. stratton.com
APRIL 1 | Bud Light Glade-iator, Mount Snow Mount Snow’s springtime challenge is one not to be missed, as competitors take on the double black diamond Ripcord in hero snow. mountsnow.com 7 | Annual Sugar Slalom at Stowe, Stowe Originating in 1940 and one of the oldest ongoing races in the country, the Mount Mansfield Ski Club’s annual Sugar Slalom celebrates spring with serious racing, serious fun and sugar on snow. teammscc.org 7 | Mountain Dew Vertical Challenge Finals, Jay Peak For the third year, Jay Peak hosts the culminating event of a season-long series of free casual ski and snowboard races held at various ski resorts throughout the Northeast. skiverticalchallenge.com 8 | Dos Equis Bear Mountain Mogul Challenge, Killington Killington’s famous end-of-season bumps contest and party. Come see some of the best amateur bump skiers go head to head and stick around for the best party of the year. killington.com 21 | Stein’s Challenge, Sugarbush Competitors have four hours to compete as many laps on Stein’s Run as they can. sugarbush.com 28 | Killington Triathlon Killington holds the kind of triathlon it knows best: ski, bike and run all over the mountain in this spring event. killington.com
MAY 1 | May Day Slalom, Killington Killington hosts a final springtime slalom race on the Superstar trail. killington.com
RUNNING AND SNOWSHOEING MARCH 3 | Peak Snowshoe Devil Winter Race, Pittsfield Aptly-named, this race offers 10K, half marathon, marathon and a 100-mile ultra-marathon. Each with 1,200 feet of vertical. If you are signed up for the 100-miler, beware: most do not finish this race. peak.com 9 | Magic Hat “Mardi Gras” 1-Mile Fun Run, Burlington Revelers cheer on racers in this fast run through downtown Burlington during the March “Mardi Gras” celebrations. magichatbrewing.com 9-11 | Dion US National Snowshoe Championships, Woodford The championships return to Prospect Mountain with the classic 10K race (with 1,200 feet of climbing) and a 5K Citizen’s Race on Saturday, and marathon and half marathon races on Sunday. ussnowshoechampionships.com 25 | Kaynor’s Sap Run, Westford Runners from around Vermont gather for a certified 10K out-and-back on muddy, hilly, country roads through rural Westford. gmaa.net 31 | Funny Twunny, Huntington In this 20 mile-ish/20K-ish race, the funnier you are, the less you run. Your hilarity will be judged at each aid station. Prizes are given to the fastest finishers. No sense of humor? Answer a riddle instead. ultrasignup.com 31 | Spring Fling 5k/10k, Shelburne The 5K and 10K runs are set on a relatively flat out-andback course along Harbor Road and followed by a pancake breakfast at the Shelburne Field House Sports Bar featuring maple syrup from Palmer’s Sugarhouse. racevermont.com
APRIL 7 | Rabbit Run Half Marathon, Newfane Runners take on 13.1 miles of dirt roads and gently rolling hills along the West River, starting and ending at the Newbrook Elementary school. facebook.com/ rabbitrunhalfmarathon 14 | Half Marathon Unplugged, Colchester RunVermont hosts a half marathon from Colchester to Burlington on a flat and fast course with views of Lake Champlain and the Adirondacks. A relay option is new this year. runvermont.org 21 | Rolling Irish Half Marathon, Essex Junction The Green Mountain Athletic Association’s certified half marathon is on mostly dirt roads, starting and finishing at Memorial Hall in Essex Junction. gmaa.net
Where will you be???
Kroka Expeditions ~ www.kroka.org Facebook.com/KrokaExpeditions
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22 | 22nd Annual Mutt Strutt, Waterbury Run this 5K, in Little River State Park, with your pup! cvrunners.org
28 | 44th Annual Paul Mailman 10-Miler, Montpelier This 10-miler starts and ends on Montpelier High School’s track, on a flat to rolling out-and-back course over primarily dirt roads. A flat 5K option is also available. cvrunners.org
25 | Vermont Overland Maple Adventure Ride, West Windsor Ascutney Trails is start of this annual 24-mile, gravel grinder ride over class-four roads. Post-race food and beer is provided by La Pizza Lupo. vermontoverland.com
29 | Sap Run, St. Albans As part of the Vermont Maple Festival, runners complete an out-and-back 8.5-mile road race from Swanton to St. Albans. stalbansvt.myrec.com
29 | Sleepy Hollow Mountain Race, Huntington Sleepy Hollow’s hilly and muddy 10K race on single track and mowed trails. sleepyhollowmtnrace.com
MAY 4-5 | Peak Bloodroot Ultra, Pittsfield Recreational to elite-level runners will have the choice of running 10-, 30-, 50-, 100- or 500-mile distances on crosscountry trails. peak.com 6 | The Sweetest Half, Middlebury Middlebury hosts its signature springtime half marathon, starting and finishing at Porter Medical Center. Run as a two-person relay or try the new 3-mile fun. middleburymaplerun.com 12 | Spring Into Health 5K, Townshend Run or walk in this 5K fundraiser for Grace Cottage Hospital, starting and ending at the Townshend Common. gracecottage.org 12 | The Road to the Pogue, Woodstock The Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park hosts a 6.1-mile run on carriage trails to the 14-acre pond known as “The Pogue” and back. roadtothepogue.com 16 | GMAA Pump It Up 5-Miler, Jericho An out-and-back 5-mile race starting and ending at Jericho Elementary School. gmaa.net 19 | Dandelion Run, Derby Kingdom Games hosts its annual half marathon and 10K on dirt roads through the dandelion fields of Morgan, Holland and Derby. Fiddlers play live bluegrass and folk music along the run. dandelionrun.org 24 | Infinitus Rugged Trail Races, Goshen The Endurance Society hosts a series of races with distances including 8k, marathon, 88k, 100-mile, 250-mile, deca-marathon (ten marathons in ten days) and the 888k, Infinitus all starting from the Blueberry Hill Inn and Ski Center. endurancesociety.org 27 | Vermont City Marathon, Burlington RunVermont's annual marathon through downtown Burlington, finishes in Waterfront Park. This year, legend Meb Keflezighi, a past winner of the New York and Boston Marathons, will be running a relay with four other runners with inspirational stories. vermontcitymarathon.org
BIKING MARCH 3 | Winterbike, East Burke Kingdom Trails celebrates fatbike culture with group rides, demos, races, food and beverages. kingdomtrails.org
21 | Rasputitsa Gravel Road Race, East Burke Cyclists charge into spring with this 45-mile unsanctioned gravel ride through some of the Northeast Kingdom’s toughest terrain, starting at Burke Mountain Resort this year. rasputitsagravel.com
MAY 5-6 | Earl’s Bike Swap, South Burlington Hundreds of quality used road, mountain, hybrid and kids bikes will be available. earlsbikes.com 6 | 2018 Waterbury Gravel Grinder, Waterbury Starting in downtown Waterbury, this annual grinder has two options this year: The Traditional Grinder, 25 miles with lots of climbing, or the Big Grind, 40 miles with even more climbing. waterburytrails.com 26-28 | Killington Stage Race, Killington Cyclists tackle courses 11-, 110-, 128-, 146- and 160-miles long through the hills and roads around central Vermont in this USA Cycling-certified event. bikereg.com
MAY 18-20 | Adirondack Paddlefest, Old Forge, NY Test the newest canoes, kayaks and stand-up paddleboards at the country’s largest on-water sale. Attend water-sportrelated clinics, demos, lectures and classes, and enjoy food and fun for the whole family. mountainmanoutdoors.com 13 | Fiddlehead Slalom, Montpelier Paddlers race a slalom course in canoes on Class II rapids in the Winooski River. Practice runs will be held on Saturday, with finals on Sunday. nessrace.com/fiddleheadslalom/
3 | Friends of the Winooski Onion River Race and Ramble, Winooski Vermont’s largest river race will have you canoeing or kayaking through the Greens, starting at Bolton and heading down the Winooski River. winooskiriver.org 24 | BrattlePaddle Canoe & Kayak Races, Brattleboro This race, which begins in Brattleboro, Vt., takes place in the West and Connecticut Rivers. Race 9 miles or take a 3.5 leisurely paddle on a canoe, kayak or SUP on a recreational route. neckra.org
MULTISPORT & OTHER MARCH
1 | Whiteface Mountain Uphill Bike Race This race includes 11 miles of uphill pedaling as the course climbs 3,500 feet up the scenic Whiteface Mountain Veterans Memorial Highway, to New York’s 5th highest peak. bikereg.com
3-4 | Ultimate Ninja Athlete Qualifier, Essex Obstacle course racers attempt to qualify for the Ultimate Ninja Athlete Association’s regional competitions in this test of agility and strength. ultimateninja.net
3 | 8th Annual Tour De Heiffer, Brattleboro This ride features 15-, 30- and 60-mile routes, all with minimal pavement and significant elevation. bikereg.com/ tourdeheifer
29 | Finding Resilience On Scandinavia’s Arctic Trail, Warren The Green Mountain Club hosts Pavel Cenkl, who will share photos, videos and stories from his 8-day run along the Arctic Trail greenmountainclub.org
4 | Women’s Bike Night, Burlington Learn about places new to ride, meet people to ride with and learn about bike safety and equipment. Riders of all ages and levels are welcome. vmba.org
PADDLING & MULTI-SPORT APRIL 14 | New Haven Ledges Race, Bristol Advanced whitewater paddlers challenge the 1.3 miles of boulder gardens, waterfalls and class IV and V rapids in the 10th anniversary of this classic event. npmb.com 19-22 | Riverfest, Hanover, N.H. Dartmouth College’s Ledyard Canoe Club hosts a weekend of events, including the Mascoma Slalom and the Wells River Rumble. leyardcanoeclub.org 28-29 | Saratoga Paddlefest, Saratoga Springs, NY Take the latest canoes, kayaks and SUPs for a test run at this massive on-water sale. Mountainman Outdoors hosts clinics, demos, lectures and classes, food and fun. mountainmanoutdoors.com
APRIL 28 | DisasTour VII, Rochester Compete solo or as a team or in the kid's race as you paddle, run and bike roads, trails and rivers of Rochester, Hancock and Granville. The proceeds go to the White River Valley communities. rastavt.org 28 | Killington Triathlon Killington holds the kind of triathlon it knows best: ski, bike and run all over the mountain in this spring event. killington.com
MAY 4 | End-To-Enders Panel, Warren Want to hike the entire Long Trail? The Green Mountain Club hosts this Q&A, show-and-tell style panel that aims provide backpacking information to aspiring end-toenders, with answers about food, equipment and planning. greenmountainclub.org
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HOW COLD CAN YOU GO? IN LATE FEBRUARY, MORE THAN 70 SWIMMERS RACED IN THE ICY WATERS OF LAKE MEMPHREMAGOG. HERE'S WHY. BY EMMA COTTON
There's ice all around but the crazy hat competition helps keep these winter swimmers warm. Photo courtesy Phil White
he temperature outside was in the 20s. The water was 30.8 degrees under a two-foot sheet of ice. (Despite what you learned in elementary school, water does not always freeze at 32 degrees.) These were the conditions on Sunday, Feb. 25, the second day of the Memphremagog Winter Swim Festival, in its fourth year. More than 70 swimmers plunged into a hole in the lake's ice and competed for beef jerky and maple syrup. Though the idea of winter swimming— defined as swimming in winter, outdoors in unheated water—may ward off the faint of heart, the festival saw twice as many swimmers as last year. Four swimmers came from Ireland, one from Scotland, and one from Alaska. Others trailed in from Georgia, Tennessee, California, Oregon, New Mexico and Colorado. Of course, the majority came
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from Ontario, New York, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont. In ages, they ranged from 14 to 72. So—aside from the prizes—what is it that drives winter swimmers to the holes in the ice—holes that ice fisherman, ice skaters, snowmobilers and pretty much everyone else actively avoids in the winter? According to executive director of Kingdom Games, Phil White, (whose profile picture shows him standing in the lake with a raised ax, buck naked, chopping ice away to create the pool), it’s fun. “Those who were new to winter swimming have been on a journey since September, gradually acclimating to colder and colder water," he said. "It's been incredible to watch and be a part of that journey. There's a lot of joy, pride, overcoming fear, taking on the demons, and companionship with others on the journey." Records were set: Conor Turner
of Dublin, Ireland swam the fastest 100-meter and 200-meter freestyle that Lake Memphremagog’s two icy 25-meter lanes have ever seen. Craig Ross, of Guelph, Ontario, set pool records in the 25 freestyle, 25 butterfly, and 50-meter freestyle. Perennial speedsters Daina Bouquin, of Melrose, Mass. and Martha Woos, of Manchester, Mass. set records in the 25-meter butterfly and the 200-meter freestyle, respectively. But most importantly, the competition was fierce in the crazy hat competition (which not only induces laughter on the frigid sidelines, but also provides an excuse to keep the swimmers head out of that—again—30.8-degree water). Edwin Greenfield of Richmond Hill, Ontario, stole the show, and the best team hat award went to the New Mexico Dream Team. Each winner received a half a pound of Brault’s Beef Jerky.
Katharine Borczak, a swimmer from Ontario, came home from the swim, dropped all of her things in the hallway, and immediately succumbed to the flu. Despite that, she listed a few things she learned in a Facebook post. “Each year I learn that I am tougher both physically and emotionally than the previously year,” the post reads. “No matter how much work you do, when your lungs fill with .5c of water, its a kick to the chest—a hard kick. A brutal kick. You see people, you hear people, but you can’t tell what they are saying. And it's the volunteers at the event that keep you safe. Completely.” And finally: "Because I didn’t meet all my goals this season, it gives me a benchmark for next year. I will be back.”
LEVIT Y | LUMINA
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