MOUNT WASHINGTON — It was a day when “Plan B” was par for the course for Saturday's Friends of Tuckerman's annual Tuckerman Inferno Pentathlon and Wildcat Wildfire Pentathlon.
Due to near-flood-stage waters on the rain-swollen Saco River, the kayaking portion of the five-part races was held on Attitash's Thorne Pond instead of on the river.
Also due to boilerplate snow conditions on Left Gully in Tuckerman Ravine, the concluding ski/snowboarding leg of the Inferno was moved to the Sherburne Ski Trail. The start was just below the U.S. Forest Service's Hermit Lake Shelter below the lower headwall below the ravine. The race featured an ungated, straight-timing format.
“It definitely was a day for adapting,” said Friends of Tuckerman Ravine president Jake Risch at Saturday night's awards banquet, held at the base lodge of Wildcat Mountain Ski Area. “I received the call about the river conditions from Darron Laughland of our kayak crew early Saturday as I was hiking up the Tuckerman Trail to meet with snow rangers, who had already been up to check on conditions in the ravine at about 6 a.m. They said it was akin to a golf ball surface up there, so the decision was made to move the ski and snowboard leg to the Sherbie.”
The race start was pushed back a half hour to 7:30 a.m. for the running portion from Story Land, up over Glen Ledge, and out on Route 302 to Thorne Pond. With the kayak course change away from the Saco, kayakers were asked instead to negotiate a buoyed course on Thorne Pond, Attitash's snowmaking pond across from Bear Peak.
Despite the course change to the more calm pond, there were still a few kayak flipping incidents, both at the put-in and take-out, and out on the pond, according to course official Nate Harvey, but no injuries.
Cyclists then headed east on Route 302, and then up and over Glen Ledge to Route 16 for the ride north into a headwind, up Pinkham Notch to just south of the Appalachan Mountain Club's Pinkham Notch Visitor Center. They then ran up the trail to Hermit Lake Shelter for the start of the ski/snowboard run.
Wildcat Wildfire racers, meanwhile, cycled past the AMC to the Wildcat parking lot, where they then ran up a trail and skied down the Lynx Trail.
Trapp Lodge repeats in Inferno
Overall Inferno Team Results were:
1. VTXC, the defending champions, comprised of a Vermont team from the Trapp Family Lodge of “Sound of Music” fame; their time was 2 hours, 34 minutes and 51 seconds.
2. Acidotic Racing Squad, for the fourth time the second-place finishers, in 2:35:38.
3. RoKBush, 3:01:20.
Local trail running sensation Kevin Tilton, formerly of the U.S. Mountain Running Team, and skier Amber McHugh in the past have been part of the two-time Inferno champion Keep It Classy Tilton team.
This year, they were recruited by team captain and former Jen's Friends founding board member Dave Veal to be part of his Acidotic Racing Squad.
Tilton had the day's best trail run time in 27:33.72. He said he made up the differential on the trail, passing Gretchen Loft (39:06.87) of VTXC just near the finish at Hermit Lake. Tilton's teammate, McHugh, then took to the ski leg, but was startled when Sam Von Trapp of VTXC shot past her on the Sherburne Trail.
“I had slowed down near a water bar, and he came screaming by, full-tilt,” said McHugh, a former MWV Ski Team coach who now works for Burke Mountain Academy in Vermont.
With his daring, Von Trapp snagged the victory, blasting down to the finish, located a third of the way up the trail, completing the course in 2:55.75, second overall to Jason Small of the 22nd-place Angry Pirates' top ski time of 2:36.44. Third-best ski time was Jeffrey O'Neil of the Crazy Mothertuckers in 3:19.39.
Repeating as women's class winners was the local team, Wildthings (3:18:46). Placing second was the Holy Hellraisers (3:36:26), third was Team Broads (3:40:00). Placing fifth among the five teams was another local team, the Valley Girls (3:48:18).
Wildthings is comprised of Kelsey Allen, Liz Stockinger is the kayaker, Meredith Piotrow was the cyclist, Fabienne Pattison, and skier was Suzie Carrier.
The Valley Girls team members were runner Cathy Livingston; kayaker Amanda Wirling, cyclist Lynn Lyman, hiker Ashley Hyde, and skier Carrie McLane, who was 14th among skiers overall in 4:09.87.
'Boston Strong' strong
There were tie-ins to last Monday's Boston Marathon bombings.
Boston Strong, a team made up of several Boston Marathon runners, placed in eighth among teams in the Inferno.
“We felt it was important to be here,” said Lindsay Weigel, a pre-med student at Northeastern University, who placed 22nd among runners in 1:01:17. Boston Strong placed 11th overall.
Added Boston Strong teammate Dan Walsh, also a Northeastern student, who was second behind Tilton in the hike in 35:34.59, “It was really something to see how the Boston and New England community came together.”
They said their vehicles were stopped leaving Boston for inspections by Boston Police during the lockdown.
Repeat TuckerMan, TuckerWoman winners
Repeating as winner in the solo TuckerMan class was James Kovacs, a doctoral candidate and teacher at Harvard University. He won with a total time of 3 hours, 4 minutes and 53 seconds — good for fifth overall and first for solo competitors. He was followed by Jackson resident Steve Piotrow in 3:08:38 in second (sixth overall overall) and Josh Flanagan in third with a time of 3:10:11 (good for eighth overall).
Kovacs was third in the run, eighth in the kayak, ninth in the bike, ninth in the hike, and 32nd in the ski leg.
Piotrow was eighth in the run, bike and hike, 18th in the kayak and 40th in the ski.
Also repeating as TuckerWoman was Dartmouth PhD. engineering and MD student Kelly Michaelsen.
Michaelsen was 35th in the run, 42nd in the kayak, 42nd in the bike, 42nd in the hike and 47th in the ski.
Michaelson completed the five-part race in 4 hours, 22 minutes and 35 seconds — good for 47th overall among the field of 58 team, duo and solo entries. She was followed by Amelia Altavena in 4:52:20 in second and Hannah Wright in 5:10:35 in third.
Kovacs said he left Boston early Friday morning so did not have to contend with the lockdown caused by the Boston Marathon bombings aftermath.
“I wanted to get up here early,” said Kovacs.
Also, in another connection to the Boston Marathon tragedy, cyclist Paul Schuepp of the local Mountain Folk team, noted he was interviewed Wednesday by “On the Record” Fox News TV host Greta Van Susteren about his company's role in helping to identify the suspects in the bombing. Schuepp's company is Animetrics, Inc., a Conway company based at the MWV Tech Village which specializes in 3D facial recognition.
The Mountain Folk placed 29th overall in 34659. Other members included runner Leslie Odell Beckwith, kayaker Tim Connifey of the Bartlett Police Deprtment, hiker John Little, and skier Sean Doucette.
Among other local teams was All Stoved Up, which placed 12th in 31253
Carl Iacozilli was the runner( 34th, 1:05.06), Jon MacMillan was the kayaker (22nd in 10:57:81); Erik Nelson was the cyclist (13th in 46:57.91); Sandra Iacozilli was the hiker (13th in 46:57.91), and snowboarder Matt Burkett was fourth among the ski/snowboard class in 3:21.83.
In the Dynamic Duo category, Still Using Up Our Weak2 was first in 3:40:30, followed by Ram J Chung in 3:48:08 and Powder Drifters in 3:49:26.
Eli Enman of VTXC was the top runner in 48 minutes, 56.91 seconds; Robert Flanagan of VTXC was tops in the kayak in 8:07.69; Hank Pfeifle of Aciodtic Racing won the cycling event in 27:33.72; Tilton, as noted, won the hike in 27:33.72, and Jason Small as mentioned won the ski leg in 2:36.44.
Wildcat Wildfire results
In the Wildcat Wildfire, held an hour later on a similar course as the Inferno, but ending at Wildcat Mountain, first among teams was Capital Multisports (2:59:52), followed by CMS and Friends (3:07:41) and Just For Fun (3:22:21).
New this year was an Adaptive Team Class as part of Friends of Tuckerman Ravine's efforts to help Ability PLUS programs at Wildcat and Attitash.
TGV won the Adaptive class and was seventh overall in the 11-entry Wildfire. Placing second in that class was Team Ryan, followed by London Calling.
Collen Wearn won the Wildfire women's solo class and was fourth overall, while Kathleen Soukup was second in the women's solo class and sixth overall.
At the awards ceremony Saturday night, Jake and Matt Risch spoke, as did new executive director Peter Nelson of Nashua. Master of ceremonies Roy “The Skiing Dj” Prescott of WMWV 93.5-FM asked the audience to join him in recognizing with a round of applause Friends of Tuckerman Ravine retired founding executive director Al Risch and his wife, Alison, of Madison. Risch retired in fall. He co-founded FOTR with retired snow ranger Bray Ray in 2000.
Friends of Tuckerman Ravine’s next big project is to raise funds to replace the weathered deck at Hermit Lake, also known as Ho Jo’s.
“We’re hoping to raise $20,000 over the summer to purchase the material for this project,” noted Jake Risch, who said deck volunteer days are to be scheduled.
Friends of Tuckerman Ravine also presents trail maintenance work days every fall.
Memberships start at $35 per year.