The Catamount Trail Association took a huge stride in the world of inclusivity last Sunday by adding an adaptive category to the 16th edition of the Northeast Delta Dental Race to the Top of Vermont.
This year and for the first time, Catamount Trail Association and Green Mountain Adaptive Sports partnered up to include adaptive racers in the event. Four athletes participated, one in the running division, and three in the biking race.
“This demonstrated that it’s not what you can’t do, it’s what you can do! You know, everyone is able,” commented Cynthia Needham, president of the Green Mountain Adaptive board of directors.
“It’s really humbling to get the inclusion part when for so long we’ve kind of been working toward this. So now that we have it, it’s like a breath of fresh air,” said MiKayla Briere, program manager at Adaptive Sports Partners of the North Country based in Franconia, NH, and a participant in the event.
Briere climbed the 4.2 miles Auto Toll Road, ascending the 2,400 feet of vertical on her e-assist mountain bike in 48.56, good enough for a 21st overall finish. By her side were two other adaptive bikers racing on their assisted bikes. Carol Brunjes of Mercer, ME completed her race with flashing colors as 7th overall with a time of 44.03. Ryan St. Lawrence of Hollis, NH made heads spin on his Bowhead RX Adventure e-bike and finished in 17th place overall, clocking a solid 48.21.
Erik Kondo of Lexington, MA, pushed his wheelchair up the course in the running division, assisted by Brittany McKenna and Robby Mc Laughlin who kindly volunteered to assist Kondo, tethering him with lines attached to their climbing harness. The trio completed the demanding course in 1hr 25 minutes, good enough for a 225th place finish.
“It’s nice that this specific event invited us. Because when you do an event you never know whether you’re wanted or not. So it’s great when you go to an event and you know they want you to be there,” said Kondo.
Congratulations to all 400 racers, and sincere thanks to Greg Maino, the race organizer and Executive Director of Catamount Trail Association, for partnering with GMAS, and to all the volunteers. All four adaptive racers loved their experience and plan to attend again next year.
If you’d like to get involved with Green Mountain Adaptive Sports, please click here to be added to a list of volunteers. Click here for more information about the event. To help us continue our mission, consider making a tax-deductible donation, by clicking here.
See the clip from WCAX TV Channel 3, and the race recap here. Thanks to the Stowe Reporter for also covering the event: