By Lisa Lynn
Ten endurance athletes began the 888K, 10-day, race but only one finished: Greg Salvesen completed the 551 miles in 8.88 days. Those that did not finish include Jess Pendleton and Joel Gat who each completed 456 miles, Rebecca Hansen with 419 miles, John Sharp with 403 miles, Jordan Wirfs-Brock with 377 miles, Mark McCaslin with 324 miles, Will Bradley with 272 miles, Kale Poland with 183 miles, and Doug Strobel with 37 miles.
Ten crossed the start line but only one finished the Endurance Society’s Infinitus challenge at Blueberry Hill
By Lisa Lynn
GOSHEN — Ten dedicated souls set out to run laps on a figure-8 course comprised of 26.4 miles of rocky, muddy, undulating trails in the Moosamaloo Wilderness. Ten members of the newly formed Endurance Society crossed the start of Infinitus at 8:08 a.m. Thursday, May 21, to run the 888-kilometer (551.7 mile), 10-day trail race dreamt up by Vermonters Andy Weinberg and Jack Cary.
The runners faced frost and snow on the trail, sleet and rain and temperatures soaring into the high 80s. They have encountered bear, moose, porcupines, snakes and, of course, mosquitoes.
“The bugs are vicious,” says John Sharp, a muscular Texan who ran into race headquarters at Blueberry Hill Inn’s cross-country ski center on Tuesday evening, May 26, to get sprayed with mosquito repellant, wolf down macaroni and cheese and guzzle a PBR before heading back out.
Jess Pendleton, 37, an insurance executive from Iowa, looked exhausted as she propped her feet up so fellow competitor Joel Gat could tape her blisters. She’d completed 11 laps (264 miles) in six days, sleeping only a few hours a night. “I started running to lose weight after I was pregnant,” she said. “I did a couple of marathons, just walking and running at first, then a 50 then a 100. What I like about doing this is, it is just you and running in the woods for a few days.”
The only one of the ten to finish the race was Greg Salvorsen, a 28-year-old graduate student from Boulder, Colo., who by way of preparation ran a 100-mile race every month in 2014. He was on his 13th lap Tuesday evening (approximately 312 miles in).
The goal of the race was to finish 20 laps in 10 days, which essentially amounts to completing two marathons each day. On rocky trails.
Many of the racers had competed in other endurance competitions including the infamous Death Race in Pittsfield, Vt., Weinberg and Cary’s fledgling Frigus Race last winter (the 60K snowshoe race, held in sub-zero temperatures, was aborted midway) and Ironman triathalons — or a quadruple- or deca-Ironman (four to 10 times the regular Ironman distance of 2.5 mile swim, 112 mile bike and a 26.2 mile run).
New Hampshire bike shop employee Kale Poland has completed a deca-Ironman and was a favorite going into the Infinitus, but had to quit after just 50 hours when his leg swelled up with gout.
A bit shorter
In addition to the 888k, shorter races were also an option. There was the 72 hours of Infinitus (run as far as you can in 72 hours), or the 48-hours version. As well as an 88K, a rather pedestrian, by comparison, 8K (5 miles) race. Weinberg and Cary said more than 200 had signed up to participate.
A feature story on the race, its participants, results, how the society came to be and future events will be included in the June edition of Vermont Sports Magazine available statewide.