More than a 120 people competed in the first annual HERC Open last Saturday at Sugarbush. The speed hike/trail running competition offered participants two routes, a long loop and a short loop.The long loop challenged racers with a 16-mile course and more than 6,600 feet of elevation change, sending them up, down and around Lincoln Peak four times. The short loop had racers dash up to Allyn's Lodge via the Snowball and Valley House Traverse trails and had them come down Jester and Gondolier trails.
The $25,000 cash purse race, one of the largest cash payouts in U.S. trail running history, drew runners from as far as California, but it was the easterners who dominated. Two Bay Staters took the top spots in the long loop weight classes. Ben Nephew of Mansfield, MA, took first place in the Under 60 kg division with a time of 2:21:31.9. Paul Low of Belchertown, MA, won first prize in the Over 59.9 kg division with a time of 2:05:39.0. Locals grabbed top ten finishes in the short loop competition with Waitsfield residents Jen Russell finishing eighth in the Under 60 kg division, and Tom Murray, Kelly Steadman and Gary Kessler finishing fourth, fifth and seventh, respectively.
HERC is a dietary supplement made by Burlington-based Unither Nutriceuticals.