Over 140 mountain bikers and runners matched their climbing skills in the 1st Annual Catamount Trail Hill Climb Challenge held at Bolton Valley Resort on Sept 23. With a vertical climb of 1,880 feet, the race was designed to challenge even the most seasoned competitors over the 8km uphill course.
Under perfect blue skies and temperatures in the mid 60’s, mountain bikers gathered for the mass start followed by the runners 10 minutes later. Both disciplines battled for the title of King and Queen of the Mountain. All racers started on the pavement of the Bolton Valley access road before turning off onto the Catamount Trail. After the first 5km of gradual climbing, the true test of strength was just about to begin as the course entered the alpine area and for a 3km ascent to the Wilderness chairlift summit.
First to the top of the mountain in a time of 30 minutes 11 seconds was National-class rider James Driscoll of Jericho, Vermont. Driscoll outdistanced his closest mountain bike competitor, Charles McCarthy of Waitsfield, VT by 2 minutes and 20 seconds. Third was Brooke Scatchart of Waterbury, VT with a time of 34:40. Regional mountain bike star Lea Davison of Jericho, VT made a move to pass Kasie Enman of Huntington, VT over the last two kilometers to take the women’s title in a time 44:12. Enman was close behind, 54 seconds back. Third place went to Sarah Shreb of Williston in 47:12.
The surprise of the day was the speed of former U.S. Mountain Running Team member Eric Morse of Berlin, VT. Even though the runners started ten minutes behind the mountain bikers, it didn’t take long for Morse to pass most of the riders and log the second fastest overall time of the day in 32:12. Second in the running category, with a time of 33:16, was CXC ski-racer Garrott Kuzzy of Hayward, WI. Right on Kuzzy’s heals with a near photo finish was local running star Mark Churchill of Morrisville, VT in 33:17. Both Kuzzy and Churchill matched Morse step for step over the first five kilometers. As the grade became steeper on the alpine work road, Morse made his move to take the win.
In the women’s running category, national cross-country ski champion Alexa Turzian of Sun Valley, ID finished in 40:47 with her Middlebury College teammate Cassidy Edwards just behind in a time of 40:51. Third place went to Rebecca Ryan of Huntington, VT in a time of 42:18.
The race was a benefit event for the Catamount Trail Association. The 300 mile public access ski trail that spans the length of Vermont.
Running division winner Eric Morse