Burlington, VT (March 16, 2010) — Despite warm temperatures, threatening rain, and ominous dark clouds, fifty ambitious skiers braved the unknown to tame the Catamount at the 3rd Annual Backcountry Challenge Race and Tour. With temperatures in the low forties, 30 recreational participants and 20 competitive racers started the 17 km trek from the Trapp Family Lodge to Bolton Valley Nordic Center on one of the most popular sections of the 300-mile Catamount Trail.
Corn snow and soft forgiving conditions narrowed the guesswork for participants strategizing what equipment, wax, and accessories to use. Bolton Mountain was socked in by a heavy layer of clouds, and steel blue skies loomed overhead, but participants’ spirits were not dampened for the adventure ahead. In the end, about half the participants escaped the rain and occasional snow pellets that soaked some skiers later in the day.
Ninety minutes after the recreational skiers debarked on their journey, an energetic field of twenty competitive racers charged out of the start. Some were vying for the top positions on the podium, while others were just trying to improve on their finish times from previous years. Eli Enman of Sleepy Hollow Ski and Bike Center led the charge with a blistering pace out of the start. He was followed closely by two-time champion Eric Tremble of Jericho and Catamount Trail Chief and Olympian Marc Gilbertson of Hyde Park. The steep 2300 ft vertical climb up Bolton Mountain interrupted many of the top competitor’s grueling pace as they stopped to apply kicker skins to increase their climbing ability. Forgoing skins and aided by relatively soft snow conditions, Eli Enman continued uninterrupted. He lengthened his lead as he climbed and set a new course record of 1:31:02. Eric Tremble removed his kicker skins at the optimal time, passing Gilbertson at the highest point on the Catamount Trail. Tremble placed second in 1:34:19 and Gilbertson finished in third place with a time of 1:36:25.
In the women’s field, Betsy Rickert of Keene, NY took an early lead. Rickert finished in 2:24:46, outpacing second place finisher Ann Bushey of Montpelier by over 47 minutes. Third place went to Sandra Owen of Benson in her first attempt at taming the Catamount, with a time of 3:32:11.
Following their heroic efforts over the grueling course, all participants were treated to a meal and over $2000 in donated raffle prizes and awards. Sponsors included Outdoor Gear Exchange, Rossignol Ski Company, Darn Tough Socks, Seventh Generation and Silversmith Jewelry Design Company. A special thanks goes out Trapp Family Lodge, Bolton Valley, and Stowe Rescue for making this Catamount Trail Association event so successful.