16th annual Race to the Top of Vermont

Published: Aug. 29, 2022 at 1:17 AM EDT
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STOWE, Vt. (WCAX) - The Catamount Trail Association’s 16th annual Race to the Top of Vermont event took place in Stowe on Sunday.

“It’s a hard effort but you can definitely do it,” professional skier Margie Freed said.

Up to 450 people register for the event every year, and this year they added a new kind of racer to the mix.

“Demonstrating that you know it’s not what you can’t do it’s what you can do. You know, everyone is able,” said Cynthia Needham from Green Mountain Adaptive.

In an effort to bring an adaptive component to the race Catamount Trails and Green Mountain Adaptive partnered up to bring racers in wheelchairs to the event. There were four of them there, all brought from different states to participate in the event.

“I think going into it the first adaptive year or year with adaptive riders you don’t really know what to expect, so that’s kind of the fun and excitement about it. Getting to figure out the unknown,” said Mikayla Briere from Lincoln, New Hampshire.

Hikers, runners, bikers, and adaptives had to travel four miles up Mount Mansfield. Runners and hikers get a head start before bikers. Briere is adaptive in the race and says it’s nice to have technology that supports her needs for events like this.

“It’s really humbling to get the inclusion part when for so long we’ve kind of been working toward this. So now that we have it, it’s like a breath of fresh air,” she said.

This is the race’s first year with an adaptive division. Erik Kondo was the first adaptive racer to climb to the top, and says it’s nice to feel included.

“Its nice that this specific event invited us so to speak. Because when you do an event you never know whether you’re wanted or not so to speak. So it’s great when you go to an event and you know they want you to be there,” said Kondo.

All proceeds collected from the race get donated to the Catamount Trail Association so they can continue their work to expand access to Vermont’s backcountry and trail maintenance. They plan to invite more adaptives next year.