The Mad Dash is a big fundraiser for the Mad River Path and is a community gathering where people from near and far celebrate the Mad River Valley’s great outdoors, local trails, the autumn season and community. Participants come back year after year for two and a half decades. The Mad Dash has grown so much that the event needed a new venue to accommodate the number of people and needs of the races, silent auction, live music and post-running lunch; the search for a new Mad Dash site commenced in 2019.
For almost a year, the search committee scoured The Valley for where the Mad Dash could continue growing and provide an event for more than 500 people. This new spot needed reliable parking, Wi-Fi or good cell service for quick race results, an open and firm field for the start/finish and tent area and, of course, a breathtaking route for the 1K, 5K, and 10K courses. After several site visits and conversations with various landowners, the decision was easy: the Harwood Union High School trails are the perfect place to hold the Mad Dash. The switch from dirt roads to trails is certainly a big change; however, the 5Km and 10K course is very accessible with sporadic roots and rocks and just a few mild hills. This spot has everything event organizers could dream of -- even trails that Olympic runner, Elle Purrier St. Pierre, called her favorite among the high school racing circuit. Thanks to the community-minded school administration, the deal was sealed and the new race venue became final.
The first year that Harwood was to host the Mad Dash was 2020, and everyone knows what happened there. Still possible, despite the pandemic, was a virtual event where the courses were marked and anyone could go walk or run the trails on their own time. 2020 was supposed to be the 25th Mad Dash, but instead it was designated as the “24 ½ Mad Dash: Virtually in the Mad River Valley!” Folks from around world registered for the Mad Dash and ran a 5K or 10K of their choosing to support the Mad River Path and feel a part of the MRV community from a thousand miles away. A virtual option will be available again this year to anyone who wishes to participate but cannot make it in-person.
Now in 2021, the Mad Dash is happening at Harwood for the first time ever, in-person on October 10. The pandemic is still a concern, so everyone is asked to wear a mask near the registration area, start line and inside the main tent where the amazing silent auction and food is set up. Registration is open for the Mad Dash. Head to www.madriverpath.org/maddash for online registration and all the details. The Mad Dash is sponsored by Sugarbush Resort and supported by more than 50 other local businesses.