Wind: 15 mph
Mother Nature tried her best to stop the running of the 13th annual Stark Mountain Hill Climb held on October 1 at Mad River Glen.
The event is sponsored by the Stark Mountain Foundation and was a fundraiser this year for the Green Mountain Club’s trail work on the Stark Mountain section of the Long Trail.
Runners had the option of also competing in the Allen Clark Hill Climb (bike) the following day which raised funds for Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sports. Competitors in both events qualified for duathlete awards.
The event is a one-mile vertical climb to the summit of Stark Mountain. Runners choose the route. This year the wind howled, the rain pelted, temperatures dropped below freezing at the summit, and for the first time the chairlift had to be closed down because of extreme wind gusts.
Consequently, the runners were not able to ride down on Mad River’s Single Chair after summit bids. Instead runners had to walk or run back to the base. Mad River ski patrol came and motored clothing to the summit for the runners to wear on the return. Of 29 starters, 26 finished, all reaching the summit despite the weather and slippery conditions in less than one hour.
Both the male and female defending champions returned, as well as the women’s current course record holder Audrey Huffman of Waitsfield and Harriott Shea of East Montpelier, who held the women’s record for years before Huffman stole it in 2010 with a time of 29:40.35.
Four women placed in the top 10 overall. Huffman and Shea were just one minute apart with last year’s second-place winner Laurie Greenberg of Warren breathing down their necks.
Huffman and men’s repeat winner Terry Kellogg of Waitsfield proceeded to compete in the Allen Clark Hill Climb the next day and defend respective titles as top duathletes. Kellogg’s winning run time was 28:20.06 and his duathlon time was 56:53.00.
Huffman’s run time of 31:32.48 and duathlon time of 1:03:48.68 left her in third overall amongst five duathlon finishers.
The duathlon finishers included Kellogg, Huffman, Patrick Campbell of Fayston in second, Jon Jamieson of Waitsfield in fourth, and John Himmelsbach of Waitsfield in fifth.
Awards also went to Mark Smith of Williston as first male Senior, Jon Jamieson of Waitsfield as first male Master, Laura Farrell of Stowe as first female Senior and Alan Villemaire of Windham, New Hampshire, first male Veteran (over 70).
Next year’s tentative date for the 14th Annual Stark Mountain Hill Climb is October 6, 2012.