Sports

Pig Race revived at Blueberry Hill

TESSA WESTBROOK LAUGHS on the downhill at the 2024 Blueberry Hill Outdoor Center Pig Race, a revival of a fun community race that started in 1972. Photo/John Lazenby

GOSHEN — Party cloudy skies with temps in the high 40s — plus an 8-inch snowfall the weekend before — created a near-perfect setting for the revival of Blueberry Hill’s famous Pig Race, which had run continuously from 1972 through 2007 under the direction of the late Tony Clark.

With conditions “as is,” the event this year was based on the motto, “Rain or shine, snow or no, the race will go on!”

50 SKIERS TAKE off in the grassy meadow for the 7.5 km and 15 km race at the 2024 Blueberry Hill Outdoor Center Pig Race, a revival of a fun community race that started in 1972.
Photo/John Lazenby

And go on it did! About 50 racers entered the 7.5K or 15K events that started in the grassy meadow opposite Goshen’s Blueberry Hill Inn, with most racers running across the road with skis in hand, then stepping into bindings to ascend the first pitch just past the pond. From there, just enough snow covered the trail, or edges along the trail, to make it possible to “ski” most sections of the shorter course, and much of the longer course — if you didn’t mind using your skis to plod through muddy sections of the trail (some racers took them off and walked those those parts) particularly on the loop around the south and west sides of Hogback.

ELSA BRADLEY SETTING off in the 2.5K kids race at the 2024 Blueberry Hill Outdoor Center Pig Race, a revival of a fun community race that started in 1972.
Photo/John Lazenby

More treacherous, however, were the sections of downhill through 4-plus inches of heavy, sloppy snow mixed with mud, rocks, sticks and the occasional streambed to hop across or downed tree to step over. All of it kept the skiing “exciting” and much in the spirit of a race known for past hijinks, trail obstacles, jumps and a devil-may-care attitude among the participants.

Falls were expected, challenges accepted, and every one of the 80-plus in attendance was there for a fun time on skis, camaraderie with good friends, a great pig roast and the Inn’s famous pizza cooked in its outdoor pizza oven.

SHARI BROWN AND Emily Rockwell prepare the pizza at the 2024 Blueberry Hill Outdoor Center Pig Race, a revival of a fun community race that started in 1972.
Photo/John Lazenby

The race was self-timed and prizes were awarded accordingly, including to the dozen or so kids who kicked off the event with their own 2.5 km race in the meadow, including obstacles and an egg hunt with prizes.

Shari Brown, current owner/manager of the inn and mother to Britta and Ollie Clark, put on this year’s event to revive the memory of those earlier years of the race.

“As climate change continues to make snow harder to come by, I think events like this are crucial,” said Britta Clark, who served as race director. “They remind us that the spirit of cross-country skiing is ultimately about being outside and moving together with friends and family, and we can maintain that spirit regardless of snow conditions.”

RACE DIRECTOR BRITTA Clark at the 2024 Blueberry Hill Outdoor Center Pig Race, a revival of a fun community race that started in 1972.
Photo/John Lazenby

After the race, Shari and Britta said they went into the race a bit concerned that people would be disappointed with the lack of snow and frustrated with the new scratches on their skis.

“But we could not have been more wrong! Everyone showed up with such amazing energy and costumes and rolled with the punches and river crossings,” they said. “This attitude and support give us hope that small places like Blueberry Hill Outdoor Center, who are relying on natural snowfall, will be able to adapt to these less-than-ideal winters we have been faced with in recent years. We had so much fun putting this event together and are so grateful for the support of this wonderful community of skiers.”

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