“I was jogging along, minding my own business, when a deer came flying right past me!” - Cara Gentry
That deer was Ryan Atkins. The professional racer from Toronto, one of the top-ranked adventure racers in the world, smashed the course record while handily beating the sacred two-hour barrier, easily capturing the 2018 Patch Sprint, held Saturday, May 26. Another first-time Patch Sprinter, Sara Dunham was the women’s winner, as new champions were crowned in five of the six racing divisions.
“Yeah I wanted to break two hours, it seemed like a really cool benchmark, but I was just trying to run a solid, steady, even race,” said Atkins, who spends summers in the Adirondacks, but had never been on the Patch Sprint course until three days before the race. “It was super fun. I think the change in the course - from steep and technical, to fast road, to double track, to bushwhacking and back to steep - there’s just so much variance and you are switching gears constantly; it was just fun!”
Jan Wellford (Keene, NY), one of seven past champions in the field, edged past Liam Davis (left, Willsboro, NY) in the final half-mile to claim runner-up position; Davis ended up third, while capturing the Clydesdale division for the third straight year. Two-time winner Austin Huneck was fourth, while double Pond Sprint champion Jeremy Drowne took fifth. “There are certain races that for one reason or another hold a special place in my heart. The Patch Sprint is one of these," said Drowne.
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“This is my first time and I know that the course was longer, so I’m definitely satisfied with my time,” said Dunham, from nearby Peru, NY, who was just a few minutes off of the long-standing women’s course record. “I thought it was tough! Coming down Sugarloaf was very technical and Pok-O was definitely the most challenging part. The whole thing was pretty fun to me.”
Past champion Alexandra Disney (Plymouth, NH) shaved 15-minutes off of her PR in taking second, while Annie Preston (Montreal, QU) reached the podium for the second year in a row. Laura Tuttle was fourth and 59-year old Deborah Nordyke again finished in the top-five, while seeing her course record (2:19:37, 2006) remain intact.
In the Kindersprint race, Ethan Daley (Fairport, NY) cruised to victory after two-time defending champion Sam Wooten pulled out shortly into the race, citing illness. Liam Hoffman, the youngest entrant in the new Half-Sprint division, edged out Mike Daley by a mere three seconds. And in a return of the relay division, not staged since 2002, Team Tormenator took top spot.
“As always, this was much more than just a race,” voiced Tim Singer, event co-founder and director. “Everyone, from the first to the 100th place finisher seemed to have a good time, largely because this is a great group of people who like to come to the Patch Sprint, challenge themselves on the course, and have fun together off of it. Along with the racers, my biggest salute goes out to the volunteers - over 30 of them - who worked hard to make this one of the smoothest Patch Sprints ever held!”
As always, the biggest winner of the weekend was the event’s sole beneficiary, Adirondack Scholarship Foundation. As this story goes online, close the 12-thousand dollars has been raised by event participants. “$12,000 is our event record, and with some pledges still coming in, I have no doubt we will better that,” said Singer, adding that when the final totals come in, the new figure will be announced online.
With Patch Sprint 2019 scheduled for May 25, we will leave you with this poem, written by Lisa Winters on the eve of this past weekend’s race, her first Patch Sprint:
Now I lay me down to sleep, a run tomorrow my mind shall keep.
If I should poop before the start, I will be grateful with all my heart.
Four mountains I must run, give me the strength to crush each one.
Please don't let these knees give out, as curse words I will surely shout.
Now quiet my mind before this sleep I take, so I may be rested well in the morning's wake.