EAST CHARLESTON – Saturday’s sixth annual Westmore Challenge drew 152 hikers and runners to the scenic Lake Willoughby region. The wilderness trek helped to raise funds for the NorthWoods Stewardship Center’s trail network and conservation programs.
Ninety-five people went the full distance to complete the 26-mile marathon. Other participants hiked and ran as far as they could before exiting on a trailhead and hopping a shuttle back to the Stewardship Center.
Caleb Kessler, from Waitsfield, was the fastest finisher, in 4:22:32. Anna Ramsey, from East Hardwick, topped the women’s division in 5:49:12.
Other East Hardwick finishers included Jake Lester (5:30:27), Brian Morrissey (6:55:21), and Margie Prevot (9:20:18). Scott Desjardins and Audrey Desjardins, from Stannard, finished in 10:31:29.
Hardwick Gazette correspondent Tyler Molleur was the final finisher, in 12:55:45. He started training last year by hiking 20 Northeast Kingdom mountains. The Westmore Mountain Challenge seemed like the next logical step for him, although he originally felt that he might need more time to work up the stamina for such a venture.
“Hiking has become an integral part of my life over the past several years,” said Molleur. “I’ve felt more of a connection to it as an outlet for all the stress I shoulder in caring for others as a nurse and an EMT.”
When he found out the Challenge would be held on his 30th birthday, Molleur felt it was a sign from the universe to go for it. Friends and family helped him train through the wet summer months.
“It all culminated in a beautiful first day of fall, with the sun filtering through the trees as I summited Moose Mountain early in the morning, and disappearing behind the Greens as I returned to the Northwoods Stewardship Center at dusk,” said Molleur.
“It’s hard to describe the sense of satisfaction that even someone with minimal experience in long-distance events like this feels upon completion.”
Sodom Pond Race Draws a Crowd
ADAMANT – The 20th Annual Sodom Pond Race attracted a field of 49 runners on September 20. Entries were split, almost equally, between runners under age 50 and runners over 50. Participation was up from 30 runners at last year’s race.
The four-mile distance is unique, requiring athletes to pace the race strategically. Near-perfect running conditions made the task easier with low humidity, a gentle breeze, and temperatures in the low 60s.
Spaulding High School junior Nick Kidder took the early lead. Pushed by Montpelier’s Seth Jackson, Kidder held on to win the race in 22:38. Jackson placed second in 22:43.
The women’s division was even closer. Addie Hedges, from Montpelier, sprinted to the finish line with Anna Milkowski, from Stowe. Hedges won the contest, 28:14 to 28:15.
Twinfield Union cross country coach Cathy DuPont placed second in the F50-59 age group. Her time was 36:13. Sky Stern-Carney won the M20-29 age group in 24:52. Stern-Carney assists in coaching the Twinfield runners.
Twinfield Union sophomore Gigi Guerin won the F10-19 age group in 37:44. Colin McIntyre, a Twinfield eighth-grader, finished in 37:14 to place second in the M10-19 age group.
Mack Gardner-Morse, from Calais, finished second in the M60-69 age group. His time was 29:36. Walden seniors Elizabeth McCarthy (38:09) and Tim Hogeboom (34:33) won the F70-79 and M70-79 age groups.
The Sodom Pond race is one of 12 events that are part of the Central Vermont Runners / Onion River Outdoors Race Series. CVR members accumulated race series points for their finishes at Sodom Pond. The Leaf Peepers 5k and half marathon on October 1 are the final races for the 2023 series. Registration and race details are available at cvrunners.org.
Stoddard and Dunklee Top Tuesday Night Series
CRAFTSBURY ̶ The Craftsbury Outdoor Center’s Tuesday Night Trail Series culminated on August 29. The series included 12 summer races. In the 5k running division, Susan Dunklee, from Craftsbury, won the women’s series title. Dunklee is the running program director for the outdoor center. Emma Podolin, Hallie Grossman, and Rose Modry placed second, third, and fourth for the women.
Netdahe Stoddard, from Cabot, won the men’s series title. Maxfield English, Pete Johnson, and Josh Gould were the second, third, and fourth men in the standings. Stannard sisters Scarlett Podolin and Ruthie Podolin placed first and second in the 3k youth running division.
David Kreindler was the top finisher in the one-lap mountain bike division. Damian Bolduc won the two-lap mountain bike division.
Runners Race for Climate Action
CRAFTSBURY ̶ The Craftsbury Outdoor Center is hosting the Footprints Trail Run on Saturday, September 30. The event gathers runners together who are committed to climate action and connects them for more effective change. The race is the starting point for a broader climate conversation within the trail running community.
The point-to-point trail race has five-mile and ten-mile options. Runners start at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center and wind through a mix of single-track, ski trails, and dirt roads. The race finishes at the Craftsbury Farmer’s Market on Craftsbury Common. Lunch, music, awards, and a climate conversation are part of the post-race celebrations.
Registration and additional info are available at craftsbury.com/events/23footprintstrailrun. The ten-mile race starts at 9:30 a.m. followed by the start of the five-mile race at 10 a.m. Registration closes on Friday, Sept. 29, at 8 p.m.