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(Note: This story has been updated to include the Rikert Ski Touring Center in Middlebury, Vt.) Mike Miller, the owner of Mountain Meadows Cross Country and Snowshoe Area in Killington, Vt., hadn’t heard about Tropical Storm Irene until Thursday. He had been trekking through the wilderness near Jackson Hole, Wyo., when the storm hit the East Coast and ripped across Vermont. After two weeks away from civilization, Miller and his wife turned on their cell...

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In early July, Marc-André Bédard’s brother called him up, urging him to try a Spartan Race. Simon Bédard, of Montreal, had just finished one the 5 k trail challenges in Ottawa. He had heard of a $20,000 reward for outrunning the series’ reigning champ, Hobie Call, and figured his brother, Biathlon Canada’s 2008 athlete of the year, could beat him. While training with the national team in Canmore, Alberta, the 2010 Olympian looked into it....