Arts, Dining & Entertainment

Piper to run mega-marathon on trails to fight substance abuse

By John Flowers, Addison Independent

May 23-27—RIPTON — When Chip Piper clears a hurdle, he sets it higher for the next time.

Last May, Piper (then 53) ran an endurance race called 88-K Invictus, originating at the Silver Towers Camp in Ripton, as a way to gather financial pledges for the Turning Point Center (TPC) of Addison County’s plan to establish a recovery center for folks battling substance use disorder.

Chip’s late son, Michael, lost his struggle with addiction in 2020. Chip has been ramping up his running in memory of Michael and as a vehicle for fundraising to help those in recovery.

“[What] I say to myself in those moments in ‘the pain cave’ is, ‘On the other side of this pain is victory’,” Chip said. “How do I define victory? I define it by raising awareness, and if I can save one life or help one person recover, that’s a victory in itself.”

His goal last May for Invictus was to raise $20,000 for TPC. He and his supporters exceeded that by $3,000.

This May, he’s shooting higher. He will take part in the Infinitus race at Ripton’s Silver Towers camp, from May 23-27. Piper will run a marathon a day for five consecutive days. That’s 135 miles in five days.

He’s set a goal of $50,000 — which he hopes to exceed — and he’s not only running on behalf of Michael and the TPC. He’s also running for:

Silver Towers Camp, an overnight retreat for those with mental and physical challenges.  Silver Towers is the chief charitable project of the Vermont Elks Association; and Jenna’s House, a Johnson, Vt., organization dedicated to the pursuit of substance use prevention. It is named for Jenna Tatro, who died from an opiate overdose in 2019. Check out

Chip’s teammates in his penta-marathon effort include folks from Jenna’s Promise, the TPC and some Middlebury College students.

Needless to say, Piper has been spending a lot of time over the past few months getting his body race-ready.

“My training has been to really get time on my feet and run 17 to 20 miles once a week with smaller runs, but the most important change is to get vertical and to run in areas where I can work on climbing and elevation,” he said. “This will be the toughest race series I have ever attempted in my running career … [it’s] a trail marathon every day for five days in the Green Mountains. A grueling course of rocks, roots and steep, steady climbs covering over 135 miles of the forest.

“My legs, my back and my feet will be inflamed for those five days of extreme running, and nothing is more satisfying to me than to do this in honor my son Michael and Jenna Tatro.”

On May 27, supporters will raffle several items (Red Sox tickets being one of them), and there will be event t-shirts for sale, along with other event swag and snacks/drinks.

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