Outdoor Adventures: Marching ahead with serious strides
March is the noted month for wacky flings of spring. Though that’s certainly coming, New Hampshire and Vermont are loaded with lots of challenging events drawing skiers and riders to the slopes and trails.
Not a race, the 10th annual 100K Vertical Challenge at Wildcat on March 11 is a formidable athletic endeavor as 40 skiers (that’s the limit), spend their day on the Lynx trail focused on achieving that lofty mark while raising money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation of New Hampshire.
It takes a total of 48 runs on the trail cordoned off just for event participants that day. They’re allowed a maximum of 50 runs during a 9-hour slot. They hit the Wildcat Express at 7:30 a.m. and can go until 4:30 p.m. Doing the math, the intrepid have about 11 minutes and 15 seconds for the sequence. That’s about 41∕2 minutes per run and a lift ride in less than 7 minutes.
Thankfully there are leg rests on the lift.
Founded in 1973 (it was called the Tuborg Classic that first year), the 40th Red Parka Challenge Cup Race is taking place on the Competition Slope at Attitash on March 15. The challenge, with proceeds going to the Eastern Slope Ski Club, features some 175 skiers going head-to-head from a pair of World Cup starting gates with a pro style pump during the elimination runs.
Twice during the race’s reign it’s been canceled for lack of snow (1974 and 1981). The event attracted former Olympians, top college racers and ex-U.S. Ski Team members. Olympian Tyler Palmer won it a few times.
The night before the race, the Parka will introduce the new Challenge Cup Hall of Fame with 24 racers and crew at the pub. The display will be where that iconic pay phone used to be.
Bretton Woods hosts a big Nordic weekend March 9-10 with the Nordic Marathon that Saturday and Mount Washington Cup Sunday. The official event name is a mouthful – The New England Ski Museum’s Bretton Woods Nordic Marathon at Omni Mount Washington Resort – and allows racers to compete in a full and half-marathon race (timed and untimed for the recreational set) on a 21K loop course. Race winners include Olympians Dorcas Wonsavage and Justin Freeman, but there’s also a Bill Koch League youth race for skiers 13 and younger.
The 39th annual Mount Washington Cup is a 14K freestyle race and is part of the Wellinghurst Memorial Series.
About as serious as skiers make it, the 29th annual Governor’s Cup has skiers flying down Rumrunner and Coolidge Street to benefit the Governor’s Cup Ski Scholarship. The March 23 giant slalom race at Loon is billed as a non-sanctioned citizen’s race for good skiers of all ages.
With the U.S. Open leaving its Vermont roots for a Rocky Mountain High, snowboarders now have the Vermont Open slated for March 15-17 at Stratton.
A weekend of competition and music, snowboarders can enter one of four categories – junior, amateur, pro and “washed up” – and compete in a trio of events: rail jam, halfpipe and banked slalom, which is a homage to the sport’s roots.
Leading the charge is former pro rider Steve Hayes, who competed in the U.S. Open in the early days as well as the annual Washed Up Cup comprised of stutter Vermont locals. Hayes is organizing the event, and is getting help from top riders like Olympian Ross Powers and three-time U.S. Open champ Andy Coughlin.
Rack up the vertical and find the checkpoints while hiking and skiing all over Kiilington during the Helly Hanson Big Mountain Battle March 9.
Teams of two, have a three-hour window to cover all the checkpoints, lifts, runs and hikes on the course map they are given. Tracked by GPS, the top three teams get the prizes.
There’s an advanced course, intermediate undertaking and a challenge for teams of two with one participant 12 or younger.
The Catamount Trail Association’s Trapps to Bolton Backcountry Race and Tour is set for March 10. Recreational skier or racer, both climb some 2,300 vertical feet from Trapps over Bolton Mountain before descending some 1,300 feet to Bolton Valley Nordic.
The course is 17K and is about one-third groomed and two-thirds left untouched by blades.
So, choose a hill or trails this month and plot a course.
(Marty Basch can be reached through onetankaway.com.)