STOWE—On Saturday, June 22, more than 500 runners converged on the Outdoor Center at Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe for the 6th Annual Catamount Ultra and Salomon Running Festival.
It was a stunning summer day and when the 50K trail race started at 7 a.m., it was still cool.
The course is challenging but features stunning scenery, and the race drew some talented local runners.
Racers climb approximately 2,500 feet over the course of the 25K course, with much of the gain happening toward the course’s beginning. Rolling Nordic ski trails take runners upward through a tunnel of deciduous greenery, with scattered views out toward Nebraska Valley and Mt. Mansfield, to the top of Round Top. By the top of the climb, the forest takes on a boreal feel, with birch and fir and cool air. After three miles of continuous decline, the last five miles of the race are rolling, through pastures, singletrack mountain biking trails and sugaring roads. The 50K involves two laps on the 25K loop, making for a total of 5,000 feet of elevation gain and loss.
“It’s a great trail race for someone who is coming from a road running background who wants to explore. There’s some technical terrain out there, but a lot of it is rolling and through the woods on open trail,” says Robens.
This year, top finishers broke a slew of course records and Vermonters made a strong showing. The results are as follows:
- Rob Bond, Seattle, Wa. 30: 3:46:52
- Neal Graves, Stowe, Vt. 36, 3:57:53
- Kanoa King, Portsmouth, N.H., 30, 4:05:33
- Britta Clark, Goshen, Vt. 25 4:20:49
- Sara Dunham, Plattsburgh, N.Y., 42, 4:26:18
- Vanessa Garlick, Montpelier, Vt. 31, 4:38:38
- Eric LiPuma, Stowe, Vt. 26, 1:37:40
- Jordan Fields, White River Junction, Vt. 25, 1:39:09
- Patrick Lehoux-Gagnon, Brossard, QC, 26, 1:41:36
- Heidi Caldwell, Craftsbury Corners, Vt. 27, 1:58:28
- Alana McDonough, Cape Neddick, Maine, 26, 2:04:33
- Claire Gomba, Middlebury, Vt. 22, 2:06:12
Britta Clark of Goshen beat the women’s 50K course record she set last year, of 4:22:00, by more than a minute. Heidi Caldwell of Craftsbury Common, Running Director at Craftsbury Outdoor Center, also set a course record for the women’s 25K race just one week after she beat out 566 other competitors to tie for first place in the Northeast Delta Dental Mount Washington Road Race. In that race, Caldwell caught Texas runner Brittni Hutton, 29, at the tail end of the race to finish in 1:16:17, the first tie recorded in the race’s 59-year-history.
As Catamount Ultra race director Will Robens said when he handed Caldwell her award for winning first place in the women’s 25K at Saturday’s ceremony, “She probably hasn’t even recovered yet.” The Mt. Washington Road Race features 7.6-miles of climbing at a grade that tops out at 22 percent.
Robens was especially impressed by Caldwell’s performance. “She told me ahead of the race that she was going to take it easy, then she went out and set the course record,” said Robens this week, with a laugh. “Being able to do that in two races, back to back? That was pretty impressive.”
Rob Bond of Seattle also made a strong showing at the Men’s 50K race on Saturday, also setting a new course record.
Since it first launched in 2014, the race has grown from just 125 registered participants to drawing more than 550 this year. “My goal is to continue to make this open to everyone,” says Robens, who aims to foster a race environment that is fun for elite athletes but welcoming to anyone who wants to
try trail running. “I like that I can stand out there and talk to a lot of people on race day and have people know me by name and vice versa.”
This year, one runner reached out to Robens prior to the race to request bib 400. “He was planning to finish his 400th race of marathon distance or longer,” said Robens. “That was also just incredible.”
Robens says he is especially grateful for thevolunteers, coordinated by the Catamount Trail Association, who turned out to direct runners, sweep the course and help make the event run smoothly.
Ironwood Adventure Works will also be hosting the Paine Mountain Trail Race on July 13, as well as 14 Hours of the NEK from September 14-15, and the Trapp Lodge Mountain Marathon, a trail marathon, on October 19.
For the full results from the 2019 Catamount Ultra, head here.