Notes from the course by Trail Guru Mike Bell
It’s often mentioned during the weeks leading up to the 50 that most of the course is open just for this one day of the year. The landowners whose properties we cross have been immensely generous for the last 25 years – and of course we cannot share our gratitude enough. But what does it mean to the team tasked with getting those 50 miles (and then some) ready by the last week of September?
Our work starts months earlier, as we go over past route maps and collect landowner permissions. By and large the course is consistent from one year to the next, but we’re always looking to improve the experience. For 2016 we tried out a new opening segment, added a mile of new single-track in the middle, lost several sections of favorite trails to landowner changes, and substantially modified the final 5 miles.
Again in 2017, we will be making adjustments. As we speak the team is finalizing the details, both subtle and significant, to make sure that all the races provide the right balance of excitement, challenge, and safety within their measured distances. And don’t forget the kids’ races – the day before the main race we set up multiple race courses on Mt. Ascutney for kids to run and bike!
As August comes to a close we will start the physical course prep. Scout crews will be rotating through the course sections looking for work to be done – removing downed trees, fixing erosion issues, cutting back brush, and any other hazard mitigation that needs to be done. When trails are only open for one day a year, there is a lot of clean-up to do! During the short, fast week that precedes race weekend, we’ll make a final pass through the entire course to put up markers and make sure nothing else came down since the scouts went through.
We hope you enjoy the 25th anniversary Vermont 50 course. While you’re out there, if you think to yourself what a great section of trail you’re on, or what challenging hill you just topped, remember that there’s a generous landowner making it possible for you to have that experience. Treat everyone you see as if that person could be that landowner (it just may be true), thank every volunteer you meet, and keep a steady rhythm. We can’t wait to see you out there!
Editors Note-THANK YOU to ALL our trail volunteers, landowners and to the members of STAB!