Here’s a recent update from The Catamount Trail Association, organizers of The North Face Race to the Top of Vermont – the question looms: Can Kip win it again?
With growing interest in off road running, mountain biking, and hill climbs, The North Face Race To The Top Of Vermont is once again drawing some top athletes to face the challenge of the 4.3-mile Mount Mansfield Toll Road on Aug 26th.
In most years, it is the runners who are crowned with the “King of the Mountain” title by having the fastest overall time. It wasn’t until 2011 when professional mountain bike racer, Jamie Driscoll of Winooski, VT, blew the lid off the stopwatch with a remarkable time of 31 minutes and 51.6 seconds. Previously, Andrew Gardiner of Dover, MA held the course record with a running time of 34:48.6. Driscoll’s recent move to California will make his undefended time the mark to beat by up and coming racers.
Leading an impressive field of female contenders will be Olympian Lea Davison of Jericho, VT. Coming off a strong 11th place finish in mountain biking at the London Summer Olympics, Davison will be a strong favorite to break the overall women’s course record for both running and mountain biking set by World Mountain Running Champion Kasie Enman with a time of 39:17.7 in 2011. There will be no shortage of challengers as World Mountain Bike Masters Champion, Marilyn Ruseckas of Waitsfield and National Triathlon Champion Donna Smyers of Adamant, VT plan to keep in close contact with Davison throughout the climb.
In the men’s mountain bike competition, 2010 winner Kip Roberts from Onion River Sports will try once again to take the top position, knowing that younger riders will be in close pursuit. Riders Tyler Berliner of Richmond and Andrew McCullough of Montpelier will be gunning to give Roberts a good run for his money on the packed gravel course.
Last year’s run category was won for the second time by Andrew Gardiner in his spectacular attempt to race in both the running and mountain biking races. Having won the run in a time of 35:27.7, Gardiner immediately sprinted down the mountain to the start of the mountain bike with less than a minute to spare. With his incredible fitness level, he was able to finish a respectable 34th overall in the mountain bike category with a time of 53:31. “My fitness level is not as high this year due to some health problems” says Gardiner going into this year’s race, so it leaves some openings for upsets by Moretown’s Ryan Kerrigan who was 2nd last year, former Olympian Marc Gilbertson of Hyde Park, Scott Peterson from Alasaka, and Craftsbury’s Green Team members Bryan Cook, Tim Reynolds, Alex Howe, and Patrick O’Brian. There will be some tight finishes at the top of VT with this impressive field of athletes.
In the women’s run, world mountain running champion, Kasie Enman, will be recovering from her strong second place finish at the Pikes Peak Marathon this past weekend, leaving room for the top spot. Craftsbury Outdoor Center’s Green Team will be on hand to fill some of those top spots including last year’s second place finisher and US Ski Team member Ida Sargent along with Alaskan Caitlan Peterson and Clare Egan from Minnesota.
Whoever the favorites are, The North Face Race To The Top Of Vermont will always have unexpected surprises as 800 competitors from over 23 states and Canada challenge some of Vermont’s elite athletes on one of the toughest courses in the East.