As a fall favorite for hundreds of people going on two-and-a-half decades, the Mad Dash, presented by Sugarbush Resort, has become much more than a running race. The event, which is a big fundraiser for the Mad River Path, is a community gathering where people from near and far celebrate the Mad River Valley’s great outdoors, local trails, the autumn season, and our vibrant community. Participants come back year after year and word has spread! The Dash has grown so much in fact that the event needed a new venue to accommodate the number of people and needs of the races, silent auction, live music, and post-running lunch; the search for a new Mad Dash site commenced in 2019.
For almost a year, the search committee scoured the valley for where the Mad Dash could continue growing and provide a spectacular event for more than 500 people. This new location needed reliable parking, wifi or good cell service for quick race results, an open and firm field for the start/finish and tent area, and of course a breathtaking route for the 1km, 5km, and 10km courses. After several site visits and conversations with various landowners, the decision was easy: the Harwood High School trails is the perfect place to hold the Mad Dash! The switch from dirt roads to trails is certainly a big change, however the 5km course is very accessible while the 10km course is challenging with rocks, roots, and steeps. This spot has everything event organizers could dream of–even trails that Olympic runner, Elle Purrier St. Pierre, called her favorite among the high school racing circuit. Thanks to the community-minded school administration, the deal was sealed and the new Dash venue became final.
The first year that Harwood was to host the Mad Dash was 2020, and we all know what happened there. Still possible despite the pandemic was a virtual event where the courses were marked and anyone could go walk or run the trails on their own time. 2020 was supposed to be the 25th Mad Dash, but instead it was designated as the “24 ½ Mad Dash: Virtually in the Mad River Valley!” Folks from countries on the other side of the world even registered for the Mad Dash and ran a 5km or 10km of their choosing to support the Mad River Path and feel a part of the MRV community from a thousand miles away. The virtual Mad Dash was a big success and carried on the enthusiasm for the event, plus about $10,000 was raised for the Mad River Path! The Mad River Path couldn’t ask for a better community.
Now in 2021, the Mad Dash is happening at Harwood for the first time ever in-person on October 10. The pandemic is still a concern, so everyone is asked to wear a mask near the start/finish area and inside the main tent where the amazing silent auction and food is set up. With everyone wearing masks when near others and the majority of people vaccinated, the Mad Dash is set to be a refreshing and safe event where we can all celebrate being together in the MRV’s great outdoors.