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.”

The 2019 edition of Rasputitsa lived up to its name. 2019 Rasputitsa Gravel Race, Vermont. © Nolan Myers

The 2019 edition of Rasputitsa lived up to its name. 2019 Rasputitsa Gravel Race, Vermont. © Nolan Myers

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.”

Encouraging women's participation is an essential part of Rasputitsa. 2019 Rasputitsa Gravel Race, Vermont. © Nolan Myers

Encouraging women’s participation is an essential part of Rasputitsa. 2019 Rasputitsa Gravel Race, Vermont. © Nolan Myers

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 conditions can be quite rough as Rasputitsa. 2019 Rasputitsa Gravel Race, Vermont. © Nolan Myers

The conditions can be quite rough as Rasputitsa. 2019 Rasputitsa Gravel Race, Vermont. © Nolan Myers

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.”

Cyberia was again unrideable in spots this year. 2019 Rasputitsa Gravel Race, Vermont. © Nolan Myers

Cyberia was again unrideable in spots this year. 2019 Rasputitsa Gravel Race, Vermont. © Nolan Myers

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.

"I wish it was harder" is not something you hear at Rasputitsa. 2019 Rasputitsa Gravel Race, Vermont. © Nolan Myers

“I wish it was harder” is not something you hear at Rasputitsa. 2019 Rasputitsa Gravel Race, Vermont. © Nolan Myers

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.

Lars Boom was a special guest at this year's race. 2019 Rasputitsa Gravel Race, Vermont. © Nolan Myers

Lars Boom was a special guest at this year’s race. 2019 Rasputitsa Gravel Race, Vermont. © Nolan Myers

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

PlaceNameHomeTimeAvg. Speed
1Magdeleine VallieresSherbrooke QC CAN2:36:1015.4mph
2Maghalie RochetteSte-Adele QC CAN2:37:1515.3mph
3Alison TetrickPetaluma CA USA2:38:2515.2mph
4Tyler CohenJericho VT USA2:42:2814.8mph
5Ellen TarquinioWashington DC USA2:43:3014.7mph
6Lea DavisonSunderland VT USA2:44:3114.6mph
7Taylor Kuyk-WhitePhiladelphia PA USA2:46:5714.4mph
8Amber FerreiraConcord NH USA2:48:2614.3mph
9Sarah Bergeron-LaroucheQuebec QC CAN2:56:1413.6mph
10Gabrielle CarriereMontreal QC CAN2:57:0313.6mph
11Justine MartelQuébec QC CAN2:58:2313.5mph
12Katrina NiezWoodbury CT USA2:59:0213.4mph
13Kelly PaduchHarrisonburg VA USA3:00:2713.3mph
14Cynthia FrazierLexington VA USA3:00:2713.3mph
15Jasmine AspirotSherbrooke QC CAN3:02:0113.2mph
16Danielle PowerWalpole MA USA3:04:5213.0mph
17Leslie RobinsonHanover NH USA3:05:1713.0mph
18Joanne GroganHinesburg VT USA3:07:0712.8mph
19Rachel RubinoPhiladelphia PA USA3:07:2912.8mph
20Georgia GouldEast Burke VT USA3:07:5812.8mph
21Heidi RentzTucson AZ USA3:08:4612.7mph
22Lentine AlexisBoulder CO USA3:08:5912.7mph
23Kathy VenturaFalmouth ME USA3:10:4212.6mph
24Laurence BarilQuebec QC CAN3:11:1112.6mph
25Megan PenningtonOld Saybrook CT USA3:13:2712.4mph
26Raphaele LemieuxMontreal QC CAN3:15:1212.3mph
27Melissa LalondeBoucherville QC CAN3:16:1112.2mph
28Laurence BourqueBoucherville QC CAN3:18:3212.1mph
29Danielle BaronConcord NH USA3:21:0411.9mph
30Corinne PrevotBurlington VT USA3:21:4411.9mph
31Robin KayErin ON CAN3:25:4511.7mph
32Alix NorrisLebanon NH USA3:27:4111.6mph
33Jessie DonavanMiddlebury VT USA3:28:3611.5mph
34Arley KemmererPalmerton PA USA3:29:4511.4mph
35Lindsey WolfeSomerville MA USA3:31:3111.3mph
36Jules GorhamVaudreuil-Dorion QC CAN3:31:5611.3mph
37Ines ViensQC CAN3:33:0111.3mph
38Elsie TorresanLachine QC CAN3:33:2011.3mph
39Kayla BrannenThetford VT USA3:33:4711.2mph
40Cindy CopleyClarks Green PA USA3:33:5111.2mph
41Catherine SchutzStratham NH USA3:34:2711.2mph
42Callie EwaldRichmond VT USA3:34:2811.2mph
43Jennifer MinerySalem MA USA3:34:4311.2mph
44Alaina DietzNorth Abington Twn PA USA3:34:4811.2mph
45Kristin MotleyWaterbury VT USA3:35:4911.1mph
46Anna LaloeMiddle Grove NY USA3:37:3211.0mph
47Hllie GrossmanCraftsbury VT USA3:37:3611.0mph
48Kendra PinardConcord NH USA3:39:2010.9mph
49Johanne LavoiePrévost QC CAN3:40:1310.9mph
50Halina TorresanMontréal QC CAN3:40:2610.9mph
51Olivia LordKittery Point ME USA3:41:3710.8mph
52Hannah RossiConcord MA USA3:42:5210.8mph
53Christina BuettelWest Hartford CT USA3:43:0810.8mph
54Cari TalbotBrookline NH USA3:47:1810.6mph
55Kenya PerryBethlehem NH USA3:47:5310.5mph
56Janelle PriceLunenburg NS CAN3:50:0110.4mph
57Melissa KellstromAlexandria VA USA3:50:0910.4mph
58Cristina PriceHuntington VT USA3:51:3610.4mph
59Mary HullArlington MA USA3:52:3910.3mph
60Andrea BowkerToronto ON CAN3:53:2010.3mph
61Sarah SchoenfeldtSomerville MA USA3:53:2210.3mph
62Andrea GerardiGlenville NY USA3:54:0510.3mph
63Melanie RyalsNewton MA USA3:55:3910.2mph
64Barbara TardiffWaitsfield VT USA3:56:2710.2mph
65Jenn O'ConnorBurlington VT USA3:56:5010.1mph
66Megan CaterLexington MA USA3:57:5310.1mph
67Veronique DuranleauMontreal QC CAN3:58:3610.1mph
68Inge AikenEast Greenbush NY USA3:59:0310.0mph
69Jennifer SchoenbergHarvard MA USA3:59:0410.0mph
70Jess Kates GalatroProvidence RI USA3:59:4310.0mph
71Jennifer MacDougallNottingham NH USA4:04:259.82mph
72Jill NugentAshford CT USA4:04:399.81mph
73Sandra PuringtonIpswich MA USA4:05:189.78mph
74Patricia KonantzChelsea QC CAN4:06:279.74mph
75Maria DumoulinMiddlebury CT USA4:06:559.72mph
76Patricia BudilSimsbury CT USA4:07:339.70mph
77Sophie St-JacquesMinneapolis MN USA4:08:189.67mph
78Josephine BrindaMinneapolis MN USA4:08:219.66mph
79Sarah WeiskittelDeerfield MA USA4:11:169.55mph
80Marcia BakerPortsmouth NH USA4:11:269.55mph
81Ashley Stanton NiehoffSouth Portland ME USA4:14:509.42mph
82Aeryn NorthwayCheshire CT USA4:15:409.39mph
83Courtney KaupRichmond VT USA4:16:239.36mph
84Erin ChahleyCalgary AB CAN4:17:189.33mph
85Deana VonschantzChester NH USA4:17:259.32mph
86Kelly FossRehoboth MA USA4:19:409.24mph
87Kylee HitzRehoboth MA USA4:20:089.23mph
88Theresa CurryNewburyport MA USA4:20:199.22mph
89Stephanie BurchBurlington VT USA4:23:299.11mph
90Marcia BaldwinLiverpool NY USA4:25:259.04mph
91Alison ClodePortmsouth NH USA4:26:009.02mph
92Patty IrwinCalgary AB CAN4:26:229.01mph
93Adelle CondonMaynard MA USA4:27:308.97mph
94Lauren CosciaDanvers MA USA4:34:418.74mph
95Marijulie LavigneLes Cedres QC CAN4:34:488.73mph
96Kate LeppanenArlington MA USA4:37:148.66mph
97Kate WilliamsSomerville MA USA4:37:208.65mph
98Amy ThorntonN Syracuse NY USA4:37:438.64mph
99Margi McGandyLyndonville VT USA4:39:048.60mph
100Trish WelshSyracuse NY USA4:41:30

Men Top 100: 2019 Rasputitsa Gravel Race

PlaceNameHomeTimeAvg. Speed
1Raphael AuclairQuebec QC CAN2:12:2018.1mph
2Magnus SheffieldPittsford NY USA2:12:3718.1mph
3Bruno LangloisQuébec QC CAN2:13:4917.9mph
4Marc-Andre FortierVictoriaville QC CAN2:13:5217.9mph
5Kevin Bouchard-HallWadhams NY USA2:13:5517.9mph
6Lars BoomVlijmen UNK NLD2:13:5617.9mph
7Lane MaherAshland MA USA2:15:3017.7mph
8Kevin GirkinsSan Marcos TX USA2:15:3117.7mph
9Mike BartonHanover NH USA2:16:2317.6mph
10Marc-André DaigleMontreal QC CAN2:16:2717.6mph
11Mathieu Bélanger-BarretteQuebec QC CAN2:16:3117.6mph
12Sam NoelShelburne VT USA2:18:3817.3mph
13Matthew CurbeauMillis MA USA2:19:4717.2mph
14Jeremiah BishopHarrisonburg VA USA2:22:2116.9mph
15Jordan FieldsWhite River Jct. VT USA2:22:2616.9mph
16Frederic FrancoeurSherbrooke QC CAN2:26:5116.3mph
17Matt SurchOttawa ON CAN2:27:3516.3mph
18Ansel DickeyWoodstock VT USA2:27:3916.3mph
19Noah TautfestWaterbury VT USA2:27:5016.2mph
20Hunter PronovostCheshire CT USA2:27:5616.2mph
21Scott MyersYarmouth Port MA USA2:28:1016.2mph
22George PiepgrasSwampscott MA USA2:28:1716.2mph
23Dylan McNicholasStratham NH USA2:28:2416.2mph
24Stephane VallieresSherbrooke QC CAN2:28:3116.2mph
25Jean Sebastien RobySt-Denis-de-brompton QC CAN2:28:3416.2mph
26Jean-Sebastien PlanteQuébec QC CAN2:28:4616.1mph
27Mike DietrichBoston MA USA2:28:4616.1mph
28Tyler PearceBass Lake CA USA2:28:4616.1mph
29Justin ScottEast Lyme CT USA2:29:2816.1mph
30Arno TurkOttawa ON CAN2:30:0016.0mph
31Jake HollenbachRichmond VT USA2:31:3815.8mph
32Joel PlamondonMontreal QC CAN2:32:0115.8mph
33Jean-Francois BlaisKnowlton QC CAN2:32:4115.7mph
34William HaffertySomerville MA USA2:33:1915.7mph
35Jp LeclercLachine QC CAN2:34:0115.6mph
36Jeremie BaronQuebec QC CAN2:34:1115.6mph
37Eric MagnusonManchester MA USA2:36:2715.3mph
38Chris StrempelChester CT USA2:36:3015.3mph
39Jarrod ForrestCalabogie ON CAN2:36:3415.3mph
40Todd DavisBoston MA USA2:36:4215.3mph
41Kyle MessierKitchener ON CAN2:36:4415.3mph
42Nicolas TailleferSt-Denis-de-brompton QC CAN2:37:0315.3mph
43Zachary BrunelleSherbrooke QC CAN2:37:1115.3mph
44Sean BurnMedford MA USA2:37:3115.2mph
45Martin DutilSherbrooke QC CAN2:37:4715.2mph
46Louis Michel MenardShefford QC CAN2:37:5915.2mph
47Keith BeausoleilManchester NH USA2:38:0715.2mph
48Marc SextonAuburn NH USA2:38:0815.2mph
49Gregory SheaShelburne Falls MA USA2:38:2115.2mph
50Ed MommPortsmouth NH USA2:39:0815.1mph
51Stephen CannOttawa ON CAN2:39:2515.1mph
52Julien De La SablonnièreLévis QC CAN2:40:5014.9mph
53Alexandre Saint-JalmMontreal QC CAN2:40:5814.9mph
54Benjamin BruceHamden CT USA2:41:1814.9mph
55Steffen HuberWoodbridge CT USA2:41:3214.9mph
56Josh FlanaganAlton NH USA2:41:3714.8mph
57Philippe DeguireBolton-Ouest QC CAN2:41:5114.8mph
58Cody McKayOttawa ON CAN2:42:2914.8mph
59Joe KubisekSouthington CT USA2:42:3014.8mph
60Matis BoyerSaint-Hyacinthe QC CAN2:42:4214.8mph
61Matt TimmermanFulton NY USA2:43:0714.7mph
62Robert LattanziNy NY USA2:43:1114.7mph
63David MaltaisQuebec City QC CAN2:43:5014.6mph
64Antoine Jolicoeur DesrochesSte-Anne-des-lacs QC CAN2:44:0514.6mph
65David GagnonSte-Adele QC CAN2:44:2114.6mph
66Richard Crate Jr.Enfield NH USA2:44:2214.6mph
67Anthony EisleyNorth Stonington CT USA2:44:2414.6mph
68Christian BernardOttawa QC CAN2:44:4414.6mph
69Michael BensonPelham NH USA2:44:4714.6mph
70Pierre-Olivier GrimardMontreal QC CAN2:44:5014.6mph
71David MurrayHampton NH USA2:44:5614.6mph
72Simon PetepieceOttawa ON CAN2:45:0714.5mph
73Ryan FlemingExeter NH USA2:45:4714.5mph
74Jérôme CoutureSherbrooke QC CAN2:45:5314.5mph
75Chris GagnonNewark Hollow VT USA2:46:2014.4mph
76Nick SternerWaterbury Center VT USA2:46:3014.4mph
77Antoine TremblayNew Milford NJ USA2:46:3814.4mph
78Don SeibBryant Pond ME USA2:46:5914.4mph
79Christian SurdquistWhite River Junction VT USA2:47:1514.3mph
80Chuck LeachLee MA USA2:47:2014.3mph
81Paul VogelHampton NH USA2:47:2414.3mph
82Benjamin KramerBow NH USA2:47:2814.3mph
83Eric NelsonIntervale NH USA2:47:2814.3mph
84David Bilodeau PelchatQuébec QC CAN2:47:3814.3mph
85Guillermo HerreraBrunswick ME USA2:47:4914.3mph
86Dane MitchellHyde Park VT USA2:47:5314.3mph
87Ghislain MarcouxGatineau QC CAN2:48:1214.3mph
88Pete BuletzaIpswich MA USA2:48:3114.2mph
89Tyler ChapmanWashington DC USA2:48:4114.2mph
90Rich FrisbieEast Lyme CT USA2:49:1314.2mph
91Charles BourdagesKittery ME USA2:49:2014.2mph
92Patrick O'BrienStratton VT USA2:49:3114.2mph
93Jeff SangsterBedford NS CAN2:49:3414.2mph
94John MeyerleMonroe CT USA2:49:4414.1mph
95Addison MinottJamaica Plain MA USA2:49:4714.1mph
96Daniel LevesqueWilton NH USA2:49:5914.1mph
97Tyler MerrittRichmond VT USA2:50:0014.1mph
98Nick CassotisPortsmouth NH USA2:50:0114.1mph
99Karel CitroenSouth Glastonbury CT USA2:50:0514.1mph
100Rob LefebvreWilliamstown ON CAN2:50:1214.1mph