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E Load Marathon Race Report: Craftsbury Marathon
By:  Karl Saidla   (2016/02/04)


Sheila, Megan and Karl (together with their respective families) went this past weekend to the famous Craftsbury Marathon in Vermont. While we’ve been to Craftsbury many times before, none of us had ever done the Marathon, well-known for its scenic and challenging terrain. The event was very well-organized in general, benefitting from an obviously talented, hospitable and hard-working race committee.

Apart from all of the above, one of things that was attractive about doing the Marathon was staying on site at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center. Logistically, it is very nice to be able to sleep, wax your skis and race all in one place. We ate at the Outdoor Center as well, meaning we didn’t have to prepare any meals for the duration of the trip and the food, as usual, was authentic, tasty, healthy, and plentiful. Given that we essentially made a weekend family vacation of the trip (special thanks to Karl’s parents Dianne and Tony for looking after Leena while Karl and Megan were racing!), it was great for all concerned to be able to take advantage of Craftsbury’s extensive and unique trail system featuring plenty of hills, forests, rolling farmland, as well as views of the surrounding mountains. While snow coverage is thin this year, the disciplined work of the grooming team allowed something like 65kms of trails to be open while were there, with most of them being in quite good shape for either skating or classic. We managed to really enjoy these during some more family-oriented skiing after the racing was over.

As for the racing, Sheila and husband John did the 25km event, while Karl and Megan opted for the 50km. This turned out to be a considerable advantage for Megan and Karl. For one thing, Megan didn’t have to race against her teammate. For another, John and Sheila very kindly offered to help Karl and Megan get fresh bottles of E Load on the subsequent laps, which always helps to keep the energy levels high as the inevitable fatigue begins to creep in. Both races started at the same time and used the same 12.5km loop. In some years the event has offered a point-to-point course which we would all love to try, but like most places near here there isn’t a lot of snow so it made more sense for the organizers to concentrate on providing good conditions on a smaller loop. This, they certainly accomplished. The grooming was superb and the trail in excellent shape overall. Each lap featured a very nice variety of terrain, including some rolling sections, a couple of challenging downhills, and two major sections of gradual climbing each lap.

While nobody specifically asked her, the author's impression was that Sheila won the women’s 25km event relatively easily after spending some time skiing with the 50km women’s leaders who were Megan and Isabel Caldwell. Ultimately, Megan managed to pull away from Isabel on the last long climb of the 50km to win the women’s race and the flowers that came with it. As for Karl, his race was similar to Megan’s in that he spent a long time skiing with one other skier, Fabian Stocek of the Dartmouth ski team. While you might think that he should have benefited from the inspiration of a recent birthday (bringing him one step closer to official middle age membership), this wasn’t quite enough for him to overcome Stocek’s very strong climbing. Ultimately he finished second, losing a bit less than a minute over the last several kilometres.

As you might well guess, we would be very pleased to head back to Craftsbury to take another kick at the Marathon in an upcoming year, and would highly recommend the trip if you are considering it.

Link to Craftsbury Outdoor Centre Skiing Page
Link to Craftsbury Marathon Results


......looks like a critical pass to get into second place is about to happen.

Isabel Caldwell, Megan, and Claire Luby

Karl, Fabian Stocek, and Bruce MacNeil

Our cabin

An afternoon outing to watch hockey practice

Sheila and John...still friends after racing each other.

This is a comfortable spot for Mr. Monkey.

The scenery makes for a good excuse to stop and drink for Karl.

Megan doesn't like stopping.

The windmills on the ridge are apparently controversial for aesthetic reasons. What do you think?

Interesting Reading. . .
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