Craftsbury ski marathon

Juergen Uhl celebrates after winning the men's 50-kilometer Craftsbury ski marathon on Saturday. Photo by Bethany M. Dunbar

Susan Dunklee of Barton, member of U.S. Biathlon Team, won the 50-kilometer women's marathon (at right).

by Bethany M. Dunbar, February 5, 2010

Congratulations to everyone who skied in the Craftsbury Outdoor Center’s ski marathon on Saturday.  The winner of the 50-kilometer men’s marathon skied that distance in just a bit more than two and a half hours.  The winner of the women’s 50-kilometer race was Susan Dunklee of Barton, whose exploits I have been following for the Chronicle (check out our web site at  For more about Susan, who is a member of the U.S. Biathlon team, check out her blog:

Last year I covered the marathon from the vantage point of participating in the untimed ski tour, which is 25 kilometers.  This year due to the rain the week before, the tour had to be postponed, and the race was concentrated on smaller loops that looped back to the outdoor center.

When I got up that morning it was 11 below zero at home, so I was quite relieved that we tour people would not be skiing.  It was not that cold in Craftsbury at the start of the race, so it was safe for the race to happen.  Posted below is my marathon article and some photos that would not fit in the paper.  For full results check out the Craftsbury Outdoor Center’s web site.  You will be impressed at how many local people participate.

There’s plenty more skiing left to be done this winter, and when we get cold we can head inside, get a hot chocolate or a beer and watch the Olympics in Vancouver.  And of course, on Sunday there’s that football game….

Left to right: Richard Larsen of Shelburne, Massachusetts, Spider Burbank of Seatttle, Washington, and Elissa Reahm of Worcester, Massachusetts, enjoy the marathon.

by Bethany M. Dunbar, the Chronicle, February 3, 2010

CRAFTSBURY — About 864 Nordic skiers found enough snow on the groomed trails at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center Saturday to race in a 50-kilometer marathon, a 25-kilometer marathon, and a relay race for 14 Vermont high school teams.

The overall winner of the 50-kilometer marathon skied across the finish line in two and a half hours and 28.7 seconds.  Juergen Uhl was followed closely by Tim Reynolds, 2:30:33.6, and by Justin Freeman, 2:31:06.6

Susan Dunklee of Barton won the women’s 50-kilometer race in 3:01:38.7.  She is a member of the U.S. Biathlon Team.  Second was Anna McLoon, 3:06:01.4 and third was Dorcas Wonsavage at 3:07:20:4.

About 100 skiers raced in the Dash for Cash race Thursday, January 28, and 200 in the masters 10-kilometer race on Friday.

Earlier in the week, about an inch and a half of warm rain threatened to wipe away the entire course and all the trails.

“If we hadn’t been snow-farming since November,” said John Brodhead, things would have been a lot worse.  But the staff at the center has been scooping up snow every time an inch fell in the parking lot, shoveling it, scooping it, and moving it to the trails.

“We had quite a substantial base on the 12.5-kilometer loop,” he said. Mr. Bordhead is the marathon and ski director.  “Fortunately it shopped short of completely wiping us out.”

The marathon start.

On Thursday a couple of inches of new snow fell, and that helped too, but not enough to open up all the trails for the original course.  Instead, the tour part of the event was postponed until March 7.

The resutling course changes meant 50-kilometer marathoners went around a loop that brought them back near the start and finish area four times.  As a result, the race was more spectator-friendly.  Despite the cold, a good-sized crowd watched and cheered on the skiers as they went speeding past.

The high school students numbered 264 skiers, many of whom had parents on hand.  And a huge cadre of staff and volunteers kept the whole thing working.  Mr. Brodhead said there were about 20 staff members and 100 volunteers.  More had signed up, but not all of them were needed.  The course changes meant there were no road crossings, for one thing.

“It worked very smoothly, Mr. Brodhead said.  “It was like a well-oiled machine.”

In fact a well-oiled machine might not have worked as well in the below-zero temperatures at the very start.  The temperature at the start of the race, at 9 a.m., was two or three below zero Fahrenheit, Mr. Brodhead said.  He said guidelines say a race should not be run if it is less than four below.

There were some skiers who suffered from frostbite.

“It’s not that uncommon for people to freeze their ears,” Mr. Brodhead said.  “You don’t feel it, that’s the problem.”

He and the staff and volunteers kept an eye out for people whose ears appeared to be freezing to let them know as they skied by.  He said he was appalled at the number of people who didn’t have their ears covered.

John Gerstenberger of Dartmouth, the winner of the men’s 25-kilometer race, said he did the first half of the race with a balaclava, but his ears were still cold so he switched to a wool hat at the half point.  He said he had worn two race suits for extra warmth, but he was still cold on the down hills.

Chris Beattie of Lake Placid, New York, keeps up his pace despite a frozen beard.

Mr. Gerstenberger said his Dartmouth teammates were giving him a hard time for choosing the shorter race, but he felt it would be better for him that day and that he could push himself more and go faster on the shorter race.  (Even though it is shorter, 25 kilometers is still about 15 and a half miles.)

As the day went along, the sun warmed things up considerably.  Spectators could get warm by an outside bonfire or a stove in the ski shop.

Full results are available on the outdoor center’s website,

Tim Reynolds, the second place finisher in the 50-kilometer marathon for men, is part of the Craftsbury Green Racing Project, a new project at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center.

Mr. Brodhead explained that when the new owners, Dick Dreissigacker and Judy Geer, bought the outdoor center they made it into a nonprofit organization.  They started the Craftsbury Green Racing Project and merged the two.  Its mission is to support Nordic skiers who could be competitive at the international level.  Often, Mr. Brodhead said, a skier graduates from college and might not quite make the United States team or the Olympic team but might be close to that level of competition.

The Craftsbury Green Racing Project allows seven athletes to live and train at the center full-time, year-round, and pays all their room and board and travel expenses in exchange for 15 hours a week of work.

The mission, as described on the web site, is to support Nordic skiiing and to use “sustainable systems” and for the skiers to influence others to be more environmentally conscious.

Another shot of the start.

One of the skiers is Ida Sargent, who grew up in Orleans and is currently the captain of the women’s Nordic team at Dartmouth.  She went to Burke Mountain Academy and on Monday was on her way back home after scoring fourth in a freestyle sprint at under 23-year-old world champioships in Hinterzarten, Germany.

“It was a really fun day,” says Ms. Sargent in a video that appears in a link on the outdoor center’s site.  She says she prefers short, hard courses.

On the center’s web site, each team member has a brief bio, including “green vice” and green virtue.”

Ms. Sargent’s green vice is that she loves to travel and fly in airplanes.  Her green virtue is that her favorite food is locally hunted venison.

Mr. Brodhead said he does not know yet what the course will be for the 25-kilometer tour on March 7, but it will be a more relaxed event since no one will be racing that day.  It might be a loop through the town.  Sponsors typically provide gourmet foods along the way.

Fast feet at the race start.


A relay skier from one of the 14 high schools that participated.


One response to “Craftsbury ski marathon

  1. Love the new look!

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