Northeast Vermont is a lovely place. Northeast Vermont in late April is a lovely, often muddy place.
When friends Heidi Myers and Anthony Moccia decided to start a gravel race in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom in 2014, they knew exactly where the inspiration for the name would come from.
“Rasputitsa is Russian for ‘mud season,'” Myers said. “It was a time that was talked about a lot during World War II. When they were trying to move tanks and stuff on the battlefields.”
During its now six-year run, Rasputitsa the gravel race has lived up to its Russian name, with mud, snow and cold rain often being as much a part of the event as the festive after-party.
This year? It was no different.
“Officially, it was in the upper 30s, low 40s,” Myers said. “There was hail at the start. There was snow on the course. There was a downpour of rain. Pretty much all the shit you could possibly imagine. We don’t have a rain day. You get what you get.”
That Russia circa the 1940s carried through in how Myers described the conditions last Saturday. “If you were at the race this past weekend, the course pretty much felt like a battlefield. We probably had a little under 200 racers who did not finish, and we were picking them up at feed zones. They were cold and hypothermic. We had eight vehicles on course just picking up riders.”
The Three Cs
So, a mud march, possibly cold, possibly wet, probably both in late April sounds like a blast, doesn’t it?
Conditions aside—or perhaps because of the conditions—Rasputitsa and the team behind it are doing something right. The race started with a hair over 300 participants 6 years ago, and this year, registrations topped out at over 1,500.
As of mid-week, 600 people were already signed up for next year, even after, as we will see, a particularly brutal edition of the Vermont race.
Since its inception, Moccia and Myers have been guided by three principles they call the 3Cs: Cycling, Community and Charity.
Cycling is the easiest, and we will get to that in a bit.
Community is something you have to work to build. The sense of community that gravel fosters is an essential part of the discipline’s meteoric growth, but as we saw with another successful grassroots race in the Land Run 100, building and maintaining the sense of community takes a concerted effort.
In the case of Rasputitsa, it starts with the two founders and an impressive commitment to the race participants.
“Honestly, we have made a really big effort to know our racers by name,” Myers said. “I know this sounds ludicrous, but I’d say we can walk up to about half the people who attend and say ‘Hey Jen.’ We get to know them and get to know what they have going on in their lives.”
Another big part of growing the Rasputitsa community has been in encouraging the participation of women. If you scroll through the results of any of the gravel races we have covered, women’s participation is usually maybe 10-15% of the total number of participants.
Rasputitsa started that way but has grown since. “Over the past 6 years, we’ve grown our Women’s field from 10 percent to 21 percent this year. That we’ve done through pure encouragement,” Myers said.
Part of that encouragement is a non-race event called Bittersweet. “We run this little women’s event called Bittersweet, which combines pros and amateurs in a non-competitive way,” Myers described.
“Sometimes we make the pros do things out of their comfort levels. Like we have a Bittersweet event where there was skiing. You might be a professional cyclist, but you’ve never done Nordic skiing. We try to put everyone on the same level to make it encouraging. Those women’s events, it’s no rider left behind, and there’s a focus other than racing.”
Then there is charity. All of the money raised by Rasputitsa goes toward giving young women more opportunities to ride bikes via the Little Bellas organization.
Last year, the race donated $19,000 to Little Bellas. This year, organizers are hoping to do $21,000, in part via a raffle that is still open for entry.
A Northeast Kingdom Challenge
This year, Rasputitsa drew over 1,500 avid gravel enthusiasts as well as an impressive cast of professional racers from across the disciplines. One of those professionals summed up her experience rather succinctly.
“Lea Davison came across the finish line and was like, ‘That was the second hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. The only thing harder was La Ruta [in Costa Rica],'” Myers recounted.
At first glance, Davison’s feelings might be a bit unexpected. Rasputitsa checked in at only 41 miles this year, which is quite a bit shorter than the usual 100 km or 100 miles we see as a starting distance for challenging events.
However, those 41 miles included 4,900 feet of climbing and roads that were at times impassible by bike. With temperatures staying in the 30s with rain and sleet coming down, Rasputitsa’s 41 miles were more than challenging enough.
“The challenge is the road conditions,” Myers said. “The washboard back roads are exhausting on your upper body this time of year. Mentally, just having to deal with the weather, I saw people out there who just broke down mentally.”
The seasonal carnage is particularly focused in one section of road aptly named Cyberia. Myers described that particular corner of gravel cycling hell:
“Those roads are not maintained at all. They’re not plowed, they don’t lay sand, they’re not salted. They are unmaintained roads. There is extensive snow cover in there. If you look at the pictures, you can see people literally walking their bikes through. They’re unrideable.”
Although we recently saw neutral support at a gravel race, gravel is by and large for those are self-supported and not faint at heart. Getting the right gear, being prepared and persevering are all part of the experience. Snow? Sleet? Hail? It’s all in the game.
The way Rasputitsa team sees it, all of that is part of the fun. Type 2 fun, probably, but still fun.
“A lot of calls cannot be made until the last minute,” Myers explained. “That adds fun and is a popular topic of conversation up until race day. What are people riding for tires? What bike choice? Am I going to bring my fat bike? Should I bring my cyclocross bike?”
If you are still not sold on traveling to northeast Vermont for a 40-mile gravel race, the event does come with a money back guarantee. Not hard enough for you? Rasputitsa will return your entry fee.
Thus far, everyone has gone home happy. “I’ve never heard anyone say, ‘Oh, I wish it was harder,'” Myers demurred.
The 2019 Race
With its location in New England, Rasputitsa is within driving distance for the talented roster of racers based in the region. Not surprisingly, it brings out some big names from across cyclocross, mountain biking, road and gravel. There were national champions of all levels from the U.S. and Canada, and, this year, even a world champion.
The week before the race, word dropped that Lars Boom would be racing Rasputitsa as his first-ever gravel race. Boom approached the organizers, and together, they worked out a way to get the 2008 cyclocross world champion to the start line.
However, before Boom came, Rasputitsa called some friends.
“We’re always a bit leery of having pros come because of the community feel, but we’re good friends with Tim Johnson and Jeremy Powers. We reached out to them and asked, ‘What do you think about this Lars Boom character?’ and they were like, ‘He’s a class act.’ And he truly truly was,” Myers said.
While Boom chipped in his rainbow-clad stature, other pros chipped in in other ways. Like many gravel races, Rasputitsa does not offer prize money—that goes to the Little Bellas—so Maghalie Rochette offered up her woodworking skills and built trophies for the top three women and men’s finishers.
The other thing on the line? Bragging rights. Alison Tetrick and Kevin Bouchard-Hall returned to defend their respective titles. Plenty of champions, including Boom, Rochette and many others, were ready to knock them off.
The Women’s win went to one of the youngest riders in the field in Canada’s Magdeleine Vallieres. Rochette finished second and Tetrick third. Tyler Cohen and Ellen Tarquinio rounded out the wide-angle podium.
For the Men, Raphel Auclair made it a Quebec sweep. Magnus Sheffield finished second and Bruno Langlois third, with Marc-Andre Fortier and Bouchard-Hall rounding out the wide-angle podium.
Top 100 results for the Women and Men’s races are below.
Women Top 100: 2019 Rasputitsa Gravel Race
|1||Magdeleine Vallieres||Sherbrooke QC CAN||2:36:10||15.4mph|
|2||Maghalie Rochette||Ste-Adele QC CAN||2:37:15||15.3mph|
|3||Alison Tetrick||Petaluma CA USA||2:38:25||15.2mph|
|4||Tyler Cohen||Jericho VT USA||2:42:28||14.8mph|
|5||Ellen Tarquinio||Washington DC USA||2:43:30||14.7mph|
|6||Lea Davison||Sunderland VT USA||2:44:31||14.6mph|
|7||Taylor Kuyk-White||Philadelphia PA USA||2:46:57||14.4mph|
|8||Amber Ferreira||Concord NH USA||2:48:26||14.3mph|
|9||Sarah Bergeron-Larouche||Quebec QC CAN||2:56:14||13.6mph|
|10||Gabrielle Carriere||Montreal QC CAN||2:57:03||13.6mph|
|11||Justine Martel||Québec QC CAN||2:58:23||13.5mph|
|12||Katrina Niez||Woodbury CT USA||2:59:02||13.4mph|
|13||Kelly Paduch||Harrisonburg VA USA||3:00:27||13.3mph|
|14||Cynthia Frazier||Lexington VA USA||3:00:27||13.3mph|
|15||Jasmine Aspirot||Sherbrooke QC CAN||3:02:01||13.2mph|
|16||Danielle Power||Walpole MA USA||3:04:52||13.0mph|
|17||Leslie Robinson||Hanover NH USA||3:05:17||13.0mph|
|18||Joanne Grogan||Hinesburg VT USA||3:07:07||12.8mph|
|19||Rachel Rubino||Philadelphia PA USA||3:07:29||12.8mph|
|20||Georgia Gould||East Burke VT USA||3:07:58||12.8mph|
|21||Heidi Rentz||Tucson AZ USA||3:08:46||12.7mph|
|22||Lentine Alexis||Boulder CO USA||3:08:59||12.7mph|
|23||Kathy Ventura||Falmouth ME USA||3:10:42||12.6mph|
|24||Laurence Baril||Quebec QC CAN||3:11:11||12.6mph|
|25||Megan Pennington||Old Saybrook CT USA||3:13:27||12.4mph|
|26||Raphaele Lemieux||Montreal QC CAN||3:15:12||12.3mph|
|27||Melissa Lalonde||Boucherville QC CAN||3:16:11||12.2mph|
|28||Laurence Bourque||Boucherville QC CAN||3:18:32||12.1mph|
|29||Danielle Baron||Concord NH USA||3:21:04||11.9mph|
|30||Corinne Prevot||Burlington VT USA||3:21:44||11.9mph|
|31||Robin Kay||Erin ON CAN||3:25:45||11.7mph|
|32||Alix Norris||Lebanon NH USA||3:27:41||11.6mph|
|33||Jessie Donavan||Middlebury VT USA||3:28:36||11.5mph|
|34||Arley Kemmerer||Palmerton PA USA||3:29:45||11.4mph|
|35||Lindsey Wolfe||Somerville MA USA||3:31:31||11.3mph|
|36||Jules Gorham||Vaudreuil-Dorion QC CAN||3:31:56||11.3mph|
|37||Ines Viens||QC CAN||3:33:01||11.3mph|
|38||Elsie Torresan||Lachine QC CAN||3:33:20||11.3mph|
|39||Kayla Brannen||Thetford VT USA||3:33:47||11.2mph|
|40||Cindy Copley||Clarks Green PA USA||3:33:51||11.2mph|
|41||Catherine Schutz||Stratham NH USA||3:34:27||11.2mph|
|42||Callie Ewald||Richmond VT USA||3:34:28||11.2mph|
|43||Jennifer Minery||Salem MA USA||3:34:43||11.2mph|
|44||Alaina Dietz||North Abington Twn PA USA||3:34:48||11.2mph|
|45||Kristin Motley||Waterbury VT USA||3:35:49||11.1mph|
|46||Anna Laloe||Middle Grove NY USA||3:37:32||11.0mph|
|47||Hllie Grossman||Craftsbury VT USA||3:37:36||11.0mph|
|48||Kendra Pinard||Concord NH USA||3:39:20||10.9mph|
|49||Johanne Lavoie||Prévost QC CAN||3:40:13||10.9mph|
|50||Halina Torresan||Montréal QC CAN||3:40:26||10.9mph|
|51||Olivia Lord||Kittery Point ME USA||3:41:37||10.8mph|
|52||Hannah Rossi||Concord MA USA||3:42:52||10.8mph|
|53||Christina Buettel||West Hartford CT USA||3:43:08||10.8mph|
|54||Cari Talbot||Brookline NH USA||3:47:18||10.6mph|
|55||Kenya Perry||Bethlehem NH USA||3:47:53||10.5mph|
|56||Janelle Price||Lunenburg NS CAN||3:50:01||10.4mph|
|57||Melissa Kellstrom||Alexandria VA USA||3:50:09||10.4mph|
|58||Cristina Price||Huntington VT USA||3:51:36||10.4mph|
|59||Mary Hull||Arlington MA USA||3:52:39||10.3mph|
|60||Andrea Bowker||Toronto ON CAN||3:53:20||10.3mph|
|61||Sarah Schoenfeldt||Somerville MA USA||3:53:22||10.3mph|
|62||Andrea Gerardi||Glenville NY USA||3:54:05||10.3mph|
|63||Melanie Ryals||Newton MA USA||3:55:39||10.2mph|
|64||Barbara Tardiff||Waitsfield VT USA||3:56:27||10.2mph|
|65||Jenn O'Connor||Burlington VT USA||3:56:50||10.1mph|
|66||Megan Cater||Lexington MA USA||3:57:53||10.1mph|
|67||Veronique Duranleau||Montreal QC CAN||3:58:36||10.1mph|
|68||Inge Aiken||East Greenbush NY USA||3:59:03||10.0mph|
|69||Jennifer Schoenberg||Harvard MA USA||3:59:04||10.0mph|
|70||Jess Kates Galatro||Providence RI USA||3:59:43||10.0mph|
|71||Jennifer MacDougall||Nottingham NH USA||4:04:25||9.82mph|
|72||Jill Nugent||Ashford CT USA||4:04:39||9.81mph|
|73||Sandra Purington||Ipswich MA USA||4:05:18||9.78mph|
|74||Patricia Konantz||Chelsea QC CAN||4:06:27||9.74mph|
|75||Maria Dumoulin||Middlebury CT USA||4:06:55||9.72mph|
|76||Patricia Budil||Simsbury CT USA||4:07:33||9.70mph|
|77||Sophie St-Jacques||Minneapolis MN USA||4:08:18||9.67mph|
|78||Josephine Brinda||Minneapolis MN USA||4:08:21||9.66mph|
|79||Sarah Weiskittel||Deerfield MA USA||4:11:16||9.55mph|
|80||Marcia Baker||Portsmouth NH USA||4:11:26||9.55mph|
|81||Ashley Stanton Niehoff||South Portland ME USA||4:14:50||9.42mph|
|82||Aeryn Northway||Cheshire CT USA||4:15:40||9.39mph|
|83||Courtney Kaup||Richmond VT USA||4:16:23||9.36mph|
|84||Erin Chahley||Calgary AB CAN||4:17:18||9.33mph|
|85||Deana Vonschantz||Chester NH USA||4:17:25||9.32mph|
|86||Kelly Foss||Rehoboth MA USA||4:19:40||9.24mph|
|87||Kylee Hitz||Rehoboth MA USA||4:20:08||9.23mph|
|88||Theresa Curry||Newburyport MA USA||4:20:19||9.22mph|
|89||Stephanie Burch||Burlington VT USA||4:23:29||9.11mph|
|90||Marcia Baldwin||Liverpool NY USA||4:25:25||9.04mph|
|91||Alison Clode||Portmsouth NH USA||4:26:00||9.02mph|
|92||Patty Irwin||Calgary AB CAN||4:26:22||9.01mph|
|93||Adelle Condon||Maynard MA USA||4:27:30||8.97mph|
|94||Lauren Coscia||Danvers MA USA||4:34:41||8.74mph|
|95||Marijulie Lavigne||Les Cedres QC CAN||4:34:48||8.73mph|
|96||Kate Leppanen||Arlington MA USA||4:37:14||8.66mph|
|97||Kate Williams||Somerville MA USA||4:37:20||8.65mph|
|98||Amy Thornton||N Syracuse NY USA||4:37:43||8.64mph|
|99||Margi McGandy||Lyndonville VT USA||4:39:04||8.60mph|
|100||Trish Welsh||Syracuse NY USA||4:41:30|
Men Top 100: 2019 Rasputitsa Gravel Race
|1||Raphael Auclair||Quebec QC CAN||2:12:20||18.1mph|
|2||Magnus Sheffield||Pittsford NY USA||2:12:37||18.1mph|
|3||Bruno Langlois||Québec QC CAN||2:13:49||17.9mph|
|4||Marc-Andre Fortier||Victoriaville QC CAN||2:13:52||17.9mph|
|5||Kevin Bouchard-Hall||Wadhams NY USA||2:13:55||17.9mph|
|6||Lars Boom||Vlijmen UNK NLD||2:13:56||17.9mph|
|7||Lane Maher||Ashland MA USA||2:15:30||17.7mph|
|8||Kevin Girkins||San Marcos TX USA||2:15:31||17.7mph|
|9||Mike Barton||Hanover NH USA||2:16:23||17.6mph|
|10||Marc-André Daigle||Montreal QC CAN||2:16:27||17.6mph|
|11||Mathieu Bélanger-Barrette||Quebec QC CAN||2:16:31||17.6mph|
|12||Sam Noel||Shelburne VT USA||2:18:38||17.3mph|
|13||Matthew Curbeau||Millis MA USA||2:19:47||17.2mph|
|14||Jeremiah Bishop||Harrisonburg VA USA||2:22:21||16.9mph|
|15||Jordan Fields||White River Jct. VT USA||2:22:26||16.9mph|
|16||Frederic Francoeur||Sherbrooke QC CAN||2:26:51||16.3mph|
|17||Matt Surch||Ottawa ON CAN||2:27:35||16.3mph|
|18||Ansel Dickey||Woodstock VT USA||2:27:39||16.3mph|
|19||Noah Tautfest||Waterbury VT USA||2:27:50||16.2mph|
|20||Hunter Pronovost||Cheshire CT USA||2:27:56||16.2mph|
|21||Scott Myers||Yarmouth Port MA USA||2:28:10||16.2mph|
|22||George Piepgras||Swampscott MA USA||2:28:17||16.2mph|
|23||Dylan McNicholas||Stratham NH USA||2:28:24||16.2mph|
|24||Stephane Vallieres||Sherbrooke QC CAN||2:28:31||16.2mph|
|25||Jean Sebastien Roby||St-Denis-de-brompton QC CAN||2:28:34||16.2mph|
|26||Jean-Sebastien Plante||Québec QC CAN||2:28:46||16.1mph|
|27||Mike Dietrich||Boston MA USA||2:28:46||16.1mph|
|28||Tyler Pearce||Bass Lake CA USA||2:28:46||16.1mph|
|29||Justin Scott||East Lyme CT USA||2:29:28||16.1mph|
|30||Arno Turk||Ottawa ON CAN||2:30:00||16.0mph|
|31||Jake Hollenbach||Richmond VT USA||2:31:38||15.8mph|
|32||Joel Plamondon||Montreal QC CAN||2:32:01||15.8mph|
|33||Jean-Francois Blais||Knowlton QC CAN||2:32:41||15.7mph|
|34||William Hafferty||Somerville MA USA||2:33:19||15.7mph|
|35||Jp Leclerc||Lachine QC CAN||2:34:01||15.6mph|
|36||Jeremie Baron||Quebec QC CAN||2:34:11||15.6mph|
|37||Eric Magnuson||Manchester MA USA||2:36:27||15.3mph|
|38||Chris Strempel||Chester CT USA||2:36:30||15.3mph|
|39||Jarrod Forrest||Calabogie ON CAN||2:36:34||15.3mph|
|40||Todd Davis||Boston MA USA||2:36:42||15.3mph|
|41||Kyle Messier||Kitchener ON CAN||2:36:44||15.3mph|
|42||Nicolas Taillefer||St-Denis-de-brompton QC CAN||2:37:03||15.3mph|
|43||Zachary Brunelle||Sherbrooke QC CAN||2:37:11||15.3mph|
|44||Sean Burn||Medford MA USA||2:37:31||15.2mph|
|45||Martin Dutil||Sherbrooke QC CAN||2:37:47||15.2mph|
|46||Louis Michel Menard||Shefford QC CAN||2:37:59||15.2mph|
|47||Keith Beausoleil||Manchester NH USA||2:38:07||15.2mph|
|48||Marc Sexton||Auburn NH USA||2:38:08||15.2mph|
|49||Gregory Shea||Shelburne Falls MA USA||2:38:21||15.2mph|
|50||Ed Momm||Portsmouth NH USA||2:39:08||15.1mph|
|51||Stephen Cann||Ottawa ON CAN||2:39:25||15.1mph|
|52||Julien De La Sablonnière||Lévis QC CAN||2:40:50||14.9mph|
|53||Alexandre Saint-Jalm||Montreal QC CAN||2:40:58||14.9mph|
|54||Benjamin Bruce||Hamden CT USA||2:41:18||14.9mph|
|55||Steffen Huber||Woodbridge CT USA||2:41:32||14.9mph|
|56||Josh Flanagan||Alton NH USA||2:41:37||14.8mph|
|57||Philippe Deguire||Bolton-Ouest QC CAN||2:41:51||14.8mph|
|58||Cody McKay||Ottawa ON CAN||2:42:29||14.8mph|
|59||Joe Kubisek||Southington CT USA||2:42:30||14.8mph|
|60||Matis Boyer||Saint-Hyacinthe QC CAN||2:42:42||14.8mph|
|61||Matt Timmerman||Fulton NY USA||2:43:07||14.7mph|
|62||Robert Lattanzi||Ny NY USA||2:43:11||14.7mph|
|63||David Maltais||Quebec City QC CAN||2:43:50||14.6mph|
|64||Antoine Jolicoeur Desroches||Ste-Anne-des-lacs QC CAN||2:44:05||14.6mph|
|65||David Gagnon||Ste-Adele QC CAN||2:44:21||14.6mph|
|66||Richard Crate Jr.||Enfield NH USA||2:44:22||14.6mph|
|67||Anthony Eisley||North Stonington CT USA||2:44:24||14.6mph|
|68||Christian Bernard||Ottawa QC CAN||2:44:44||14.6mph|
|69||Michael Benson||Pelham NH USA||2:44:47||14.6mph|
|70||Pierre-Olivier Grimard||Montreal QC CAN||2:44:50||14.6mph|
|71||David Murray||Hampton NH USA||2:44:56||14.6mph|
|72||Simon Petepiece||Ottawa ON CAN||2:45:07||14.5mph|
|73||Ryan Fleming||Exeter NH USA||2:45:47||14.5mph|
|74||Jérôme Couture||Sherbrooke QC CAN||2:45:53||14.5mph|
|75||Chris Gagnon||Newark Hollow VT USA||2:46:20||14.4mph|
|76||Nick Sterner||Waterbury Center VT USA||2:46:30||14.4mph|
|77||Antoine Tremblay||New Milford NJ USA||2:46:38||14.4mph|
|78||Don Seib||Bryant Pond ME USA||2:46:59||14.4mph|
|79||Christian Surdquist||White River Junction VT USA||2:47:15||14.3mph|
|80||Chuck Leach||Lee MA USA||2:47:20||14.3mph|
|81||Paul Vogel||Hampton NH USA||2:47:24||14.3mph|
|82||Benjamin Kramer||Bow NH USA||2:47:28||14.3mph|
|83||Eric Nelson||Intervale NH USA||2:47:28||14.3mph|
|84||David Bilodeau Pelchat||Québec QC CAN||2:47:38||14.3mph|
|85||Guillermo Herrera||Brunswick ME USA||2:47:49||14.3mph|
|86||Dane Mitchell||Hyde Park VT USA||2:47:53||14.3mph|
|87||Ghislain Marcoux||Gatineau QC CAN||2:48:12||14.3mph|
|88||Pete Buletza||Ipswich MA USA||2:48:31||14.2mph|
|89||Tyler Chapman||Washington DC USA||2:48:41||14.2mph|
|90||Rich Frisbie||East Lyme CT USA||2:49:13||14.2mph|
|91||Charles Bourdages||Kittery ME USA||2:49:20||14.2mph|
|92||Patrick O'Brien||Stratton VT USA||2:49:31||14.2mph|
|93||Jeff Sangster||Bedford NS CAN||2:49:34||14.2mph|
|94||John Meyerle||Monroe CT USA||2:49:44||14.1mph|
|95||Addison Minott||Jamaica Plain MA USA||2:49:47||14.1mph|
|96||Daniel Levesque||Wilton NH USA||2:49:59||14.1mph|
|97||Tyler Merritt||Richmond VT USA||2:50:00||14.1mph|
|98||Nick Cassotis||Portsmouth NH USA||2:50:01||14.1mph|
|99||Karel Citroen||South Glastonbury CT USA||2:50:05||14.1mph|
|100||Rob Lefebvre||Williamstown ON CAN||2:50:12||14.1mph|