Craftsbury Skiers Podium at Ski-Orienteering Championships

Head to head:  2 generations of Owens compete in the long distance race at US Ski-O Nats.

Head to head: 2 generations of Owens compete in the long distance race at US Ski-O Nats.

Editor’s Note:  big thanks to Allison Van Akkeren for sharing this race report and photos with us.

On the weekend of March 11-13, Adrian and Kestrel Owens were joined in Presque Isle, Maine by Melanie Sergiev to vie for North American championship titles in Ski-Orienteering (Ski-O) and potential starting spots on next year’s US team. They competed with 40 skiers from Canada and the United States in a different distance race each day, all of whom were greeted by good conditions in Northern Maine. The three Craftsbury skiers had never skied at Presque Isle before, and like the other racers were not allowed to see or ski on the trails before the races.

Friday afternoon’s warm, soft snow was the setting for the Sprint with an interval start. The sprint was just under 3 miles in length at a minimum, but the exact length depended on the route each skier choose for themselves to most efficiently reach each control point on the map in the specified order. The map was handed to each racer 15 seconds before the start. The men had a slightly longer course than the women.

Adrian Owens was fastest among men, 16:19. Second place was Jonis, a Lithuanian skier (he was a top contender each day, but was not eligible for the North American titles), with Kestrel third in 17:34 (Kestrel raced as a senior for better points). Other US and Canadian racers filled in the senior men’s field. “It was a dense trail network with lots of junctions and cut-throughs that came up faster than I could read the map sometimes”, Adrian said. “I skied one short cut through the woods, and later took off my skis to run a steep downhill through brushy woods between trails.” Kestrel described the closely packed trails as “spaghetti” making it hard to tell which trail you were on. “The sloppy snow made for slow skiing”, he added.

Melanie (also racing as a senior) finished her Sprint race in second place 16:55, behind Alex Jospe 14:43 of Watertown, MA who has been on the US team since 2007. Other Senior team racers finished third and fourth.

The snow froze overnight into a firm crust, but it was softening again in the Saturday morning sun when the first starters got their maps and headed out on the trails. Kestrel decided to race one category down for the long distance which was advertised to be at least 22 kilometers for the senior men. His 17 km course was shared with the senior women, and he was 20 seconds faster than Alex Jospe, who was once again the fastest women. Melanie slipped to third woman behind Anna Voegele of Truckee, CA. Kestrel said he felt really good skiing, “but purposefully slowed down after a fast start to pace myself.”

In the men’s long race Adrian was fastest again 1:16:46, edging out Jonis by 27 seconds. Both the senior men and senior women courses required three maps. The route on the first map ended at a map exchange area where a second map was picked up for the continuation of the race. “That kept us guessing on how much farther we had to go, but also allowed for a longer course”, Adrian said. “By the third time leaving the biathlon stadium area I was starting to know the trails pretty well.” The third map ended up being a much shorter loop than the previous two.

The crust was harder on Sunday and did not soften up during the wave start Middle Distance races. The main trails were machine groomed but the smaller trails were pure ice. Kestrel lined up with the senior men, including his father Adrian. The course was set up with “route forking” and two maps so while each athlete would end up skiing the same total distance, they wouldn’t visit the controls in exactly the same order. “The forking right from the start was good to make you do your own route finding instead of being able to follow people,” explained Kestrel. “But many legs brought the racers back together for head-to-head racing. You could see how you were doing.”

Kestrel had a good start and was in the lead for the first six controls, until the Jonis passed him with a better route choice to the seventh. Adrian trailed and lost contact due a map reading error going to control 10 instead of number 5. “Once I realized the mistake the best correction I could make was bushwhacking through about 300 meters of forest, and lost almost a minute”, he explained after the race. “I skied extra hard after that and eventually caught up to Kestrel, but could not pass him on the narrow trails near the finish.”

Kestrel said, ”when I saw how short the second map was and my Dad so close behind me, I skied it at full sprint.” Jonis finished in 37:47. Kestrel grabbed the North American championship gold with a time of 38:41, while Adrian had to settle for silver in 39:03. “I am really proud of Kestrel for coming in ahead of me in big race”, admitted Adrian.

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New Hilltop Cabins Take Shape


If you’ve skied Lemon’s Haunt recently, you’ve noticed that the trail takes a slightly different route as it makes its final approach back toward the lower soccer field. It dips leftward into the woods as it comes up the hill, to skirt east of the construction site that is gradually turning into our new Hilltop Cabins.

The cabin cluster, designed to look something like a mountain village, will include six structures: 2 triples, 1 double, 2 singles and a common lounge/kitchen building. Each triple will be composed of three units, each capable of holding up to three people. These can be rented separately, or combined into a space for a larger group.

The cabins will all have porches, private baths, small kitchenettes, and nice views either to the west overlooking the lake, or to the east, looking out over the ski trail toward the hills to the east. They’ll be heated by our innovative central heating system that uses the waste heat from our snow-making generator, along with heat from a large high-efficiency wood boiler, solar thermal and a supplemental heat pump in summer.

If all goes well, construction should be done in May or June and the cabins will go online in mid summer. Ultimately, these cabins will replace the rooms in Tamarack Lodge, which will be deconstructed and recycled—probably next Fall.

Get a sense of the construction with this gallery from Green Racing Project skier Caitlin Patterson.

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2015 Halloween Biathlon Gallery

Halloween Biathlon Racers

Halloween Biathlon Racers

Last Thursday saw the initial running of the Halloween biathlon race at the Biathlon range at Elinor’s field. 16 competitors contested an interval start race with two shooting stages and three running laps of approximately 600 meters. Penalties required a loop of 25 meters per miss. The primary requirement for participation? A costume!

Check out the results and the photogallery below.

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The kitchen staff made the whole meal special, even our reserved table

When two obvious interests collide, why not make a weekend out of it? That cracking idea was not mine. A multi-year running camp athlete and a handful of big-thinking running coaches came up with the concept: an autumn weekend of trail running and local craft beer drinking. Less of a camp, more of a weekend blast of goodness. Trails2Ales was our first go at it and golly, it was fun. It was made all the better by holding it in conjunction with our social event of the year: Oktoberfest. Why not?

Coach Jo Jo and I stayed at the Center after the second Foliage and Running weekend. We gallivanted around the Northeast Kingdom in the rain sleuthing trail options, figuring out drive times and dropping in at Hill Farmstead Brewery ( and Lost Nation Brewing ( to investigate the offerings. It was a taxing assignment but we managed to put together the weekend schedule and get plenty of miles in during the week — over 100 for Jo Jo and 71 for me. We were ready!

Jo Jo and I ran in the rain figuring out where to run at Kingdom Trails. This was our starting point at Mountain View Farm.

Jo Jo likes the River Run trail overlooking the Passumpsic River

Nine inveterate trail runner/craft beer devotees plus four coaches showed up for the fun and the NEK had its best glorious autumn garb on full display with warm sunshine, blue bird skies and blazing leaves. We ran our full and fun collection of single track here at the Center on Friday afternoon followed by a raucous social Friday night before dinner. There were too many Hill Farmstead growlers to keep track of as we enjoyed the kitchen’s patented cheese board plus spiced nuts and grapes.

Before we set off to explore Burke’s trails, every runner had a map and a two hour window to run free. Most of us ran 10 miles with a few others logging more.

Those Craftsbury vans come in handy after a scintillating trail run!

Mike’s Tiki Bar was loaded with mountain bikers kicking back so we joined in with our picnic lunches. With 30 beers on tap and miles under our belts we were grooving.

Over lunch, Ashley and Spence compare notes on where they ran

Running buddies at home, Mac and Mike were happy all weekend

Frank returned to Craftsbury for a second time and brought along his sweetie pie wife, Stephanie

A plethora of memorable Mikes

Last pack lunches of the season — the kitchen always gives us the best grub

Dave and Caleb wait for manager Becky to assist — Jo Jo and I met her when we were trail sleuthing and she told us to bring the gang

Caleb and Ashley get extra mileage credit for toting the lunches back and forth while Dave keeps them company

Burke’s Kingdom Trails (kingdom drew us on Saturday with the big reward of Mike’s Tiki Bar ( post-run. The Oktoberfest social and dinner in the autumn-y bedecked Main Lodge of the AC was a treat on Saturday night. Our post-dinner Cedar social went into the night and the Cedar kitchen counter was getting overloaded with rinsed and drying growlers.

The AC was bustling, cheery and rife with superb food and company during the Oktoberfest feast

Sunday morning found us rousting out early to head over to Mount Elmore for the challenging uphill run/scramble up the Ridge Trail to the fire tower for the big pay-off view. 10k later we were swimming in Lake Elmore and finishing off another Lost Nation growler as well as enjoying yesterday’s picnic lunch snack leftovers.

Triumphant at the top of Mt. Elmore

Good beer at 10:00am — why not?

The weekend was far too short and far too fun. What about another try at it in 2016 but for four days instead? Give me a shout if you are interested at See you next summer and keep an eye out for the full 2016 schedule on our website

Trails2Ales was a fabulous end to the running camp season — let’s do it again in 2016!




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“Team Craftsbury” at the Burlington Invitational

Cross country running and autumn go together hand in thin knit glove: colorfully dressed thinclads dashing up winding hills amidst a blaze of changing leaves, splattered and muddy racing spikes, cold hands and pink cheeks, cheering teammates, friends and parents. Yet every harrier knows the real truth: cross country is a summer sport. It’s on the hot and sunny June, July and August days when the runner’s work gets done. To train consistently in the summer means success is there for the taking in the autumn months. Steamy summer miles = crisp autumn speed, strength and endurance.

Our summer high school cross country camps have attracted fast, ambitious, talented and dedicated teens from all over the country. Each of these last few summers, a cadre of strong, tough, gritty and speedy Vermont girls has shown me how willing they are to work in the summer for autumn results. Recently I perused the 2015 Burlington Invitational results from 12 September. Lots of familiar names leapt out at me, particularly in the Varsity Girls results:  Rena Swartz, Avery Ellis, Anneka Williams, Annemarie Martell, Charlotte Boyden, Myla Jacobs and Marika Massey-Bierman. Seven Craftsbury campers in the top twenty, plus many more throughout the pack! Each of these girls has bent to the tasks my staff and I have asked of them at running camp, several of them attending many times over. They have shown me again and again their grit, resilience and drive and here they were dominating at the Burlington Invite.

As it happens, seven runners comprise a cross country team with five of them scoring. If the top seven Craftsbury attendees in the varsity girls race had scored as their own team (Rena, Avery, Anneka, Annemarie, Charlotte, Myla and Marika), the first five would have accumulated 34 points, enough for the team win. If we took away Annemarie and Charlotte as the 4th and 5th scorers and had relied on Myla and Marika, the team’s score would have been 43 points. Again, enough for the team win. The winning team at this meet scored 61 points with the second place team scoring 65. Pretty cool, and a testament both to the girls attending this camp and how they pushed themselves this summer. Strong work runners, and best of luck the rest of the fall season!

(Do you or a runner you know want to get faster? Keep watching for our 2016 High School Camps, and come up to join the fun!)

Craftsbury’s Fast Seven:

Rena was flying on the Common in July and she won the Burlington Invitational in September

Avery and Annemarie fully focused during a tempo run on the Common

Myla is on point during the fartlek portion of the Common session

Marika came to running camp for the first time this summer and her work has paid off in a strong autumn season

Anneka chases Charlotte at mile 7 of the Ridge Run 10 miler

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Here’s to Autumn Running: Foliage Weekend 2

Elena brings the zest to running camp along with her wee companion, Little Pinky.

That familiar snap in the air, glowing sunshine against vibrant leaves, rustling tall corn stalks, shrouded mists on Big Hosmer and hoar frost abounding, autumn at Craftsbury resonates. Fifteen spirited runners showed up for the last foliage weekend running camp for superb running and camaraderie.

Long-time Craftsbury runner Elena brought her robust posse of five from Boston and we hardly needed the tough core and body workout by Coach Jo Jo since the non-stop laughing served as its own abs strengthener. We ran hills in the mists, climbed Mt. Elmore in brilliant sunshine, were rewarded with superb views from the fire tower and ran a spectacular Ridge Run too beautiful to waste time stopping to photograph it. Coach Mike talked about training principles, Coach Sue gave us the ins and outs of injury prevention and Coach Jo Jo put the athletes through their paces in the AC gym. It was a highlight listening to Coach Kasie share her international mountain and sky running exploits. What a weekend!

With only Trails2Ales left on the running camp calendar, the 2015 running season is drawing to a close. Lots of exciting camps on tap for 2016 including a beginning runners weekend and a four-day foliage camp — thanks for coming to Craftsbury, see you next year!

I was setting out cones for the hill session in the dark by flashlight and soon after that we were out in full force zipping up and down the hills.

The sun started to pierce the fog as we headed for the Matterhorn

Jen and Beth get their breath back after ascending the Matterhorn in the magical mist

A challenging hill workout completed by 7:30am!

Our favorite red barn, the Murphy’s landmark glows

Runners in residence at Craftsbury

Dahlia came to camp to reinvigorate her running after having Baby Savannah

Lake Elmore view from the fire tower

The other view from the fire tower — runners and shadows

Coaches Lynn and Kasie show off their Run Vermont swag from long time Craftsbury coach Jess. Coach Mike wishes he had the goods, too!

Our lake-side lunch was idyllic and relaxing. Patty, Christine and Maggie are discussing whether rocket science is more important than running

The Sunday sunshine was beguiling so we had our coach roundtable session on the deck, caught some rays and took our final camp photo

The weekend's full complement of coaches: Mike, Lynn, Jo Jo, Sue and Kasie

The weekend’s full complement of coaches: Mike, Lynn, Jo Jo, Sue and Kasie


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Foliage and Running – Sparkling Sun, Vibrant Runners

Coach Sue leads the post-hill session stretching. The AC deck is the place to be on crisp sunny mornings.

The first Foliage and Running camp came and went with glowing sunshine and a collection of runners that gave the weekend wings. With two wife/husband couples, a mother/daughter pair, two running pals and five sparky women from the Melrose Running Club near Boston the energy level was high, the enthusiasm contagious. Weekend camps are a blast of action from start to finish. This iteration with thirteen brand new to Craftsbury runners and two returners was a whole lot of fun. We ran, hiked, learned about injury prevention and training principles, ate, swam and ran some more. Oh, yes. There might have been a few growlers of terrific craft beer on hand, too. Thanks for a super weekend!

Caitlin was all about working the hills

Jessica came with her running partner Dara. Both ran with vigor, looking to get motivation and mojo from the weekend

Presant was focused heading toward his first Matterhorn ascent

Allison and Dorota hammer an uphill together

Sue was one of the Melrose 5 who all stayed in Cabin D for the weekend. I could hear their laugher from the Duck Blind!

A gorgeous day to wade and swim in Willoughby post-Pisgah hike. The little south end beach is perfect for our picnic lunch

The cider, wine and cheese social was held on the AC deck — all the scullers and runners together. Coach Sue and Athlete Sue are rocking smiles together

Synchronicity Craftsbury-style with Caitlin and Coach Mike sharing their admiration for craft beer

The weekend posse all in one place and standing still.

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Masters Dryland TT #2

Sunday morning dawned sunny and warm on Craftsbury, perfect weather (perhaps a bit on the warm side) for the second West Hill TT. Seven runners, poles in hand, took to the 1.1 and 0.6 mile courses. Everyone put in a good, hard effort and many set new PRs. Hats off in particular to Elinor Osborn for taking a whopping 1:35 off her previous 1.1 mi time!

Results and photos below:

Runner .6mi Time 1.1mi Time Improvement
Wyle Solomon 6:33 11:45 -24sec
Dick Dreissigacker 7:20 12:53 -29sec
Linda Ramsdell 8:46 15:11 +38sec
Barb Massucci 9:08 15:34 (first time)
Sung-Hee Chung 8:56 16:15 (first time doing 1.1mi) -19sec (off previous 0.6mi time)
Elinor Osborn 10:24 18:17 -95sec
George Hall 9:47 +9sec
The Craftsbury masters dryland group after a time trial.

Still smiling after a hard effort. L-R Sung-Hee, Linda, Barb, Elinor, Dick, Wyle, George

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Runner of the Summer: Fred

Every summer amidst the stream of runners who come to Craftsbury and  dive into all that encompasses running camp, there is always one who makes me ponder the most what it is to be a runner. There’s something about this person’s ferocious drive to give what they’ve got to the pursuit of being a true blue runner. It’s more than that, though. This runner embodies grit, resilience, pluck and effort coupled with a love that is pure.

Admittedly, I have a special place in my heart for the runner who lives and breathes the most primal running discipline: cross country.  2015’s Runner of the Summer is Fred. Another of Fred’s most appealing qualities is that the man knows how to laugh and have a good time even when contemplating the beast of all races, a 10k cross country outing. Fred gives it all when he’s working hard so much so that his classic “working hard” face yielded this memorable quote by one of our best coaches, Mike, “Fred, you look like hell but keep going anyway!” Here’s to you, Fred and to another year at Craftsbury!

A devotee of craft beer, Fred loves the social aspect of running camp

Coach Brett teases Fred about his lack of bendy-ness

Fred leading the pack during strides on a misty Common morning

Flat on the grass with Matt after a hot and sunny Endurathon Day biking, hiking, running and biking

Coach Jess demonstrates her core work mastery while Fred wonders if he can measure up

A woman magnet, Fred shows his best face. Thanks for the laughs, Fred!


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GRP Girls’ (Extra Blue?)Grass Speeds

Heather Mooney works her herringbone in Pepa's latest summer edit.

Heather Mooney works her herringbone in Pepa’s latest summer edit.

It’s that time of year to get out the rock/grass skis at Craftsbury. Pepa shares footage of the GRP girls’ speed workout over on Elinor’s hill, next to the farmyard. Check it out on Pepa’s YouTube Channel.

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