An Uphill Race Director's Perspective
Racers going uphill
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An Uphill Race Director's Perspective

March 2, 2018

Winter Wild is an uphill race series at New England ski resorts. Competitors are tasked with climbing uphill on skis with skins, snowshoes, microspikes, and more, but must return to the finish line at the bottom of the ski area in the same manner. Here is Assistant Race Director Robin Allenburke's insider perspective on racing in the Winter Wild. To find out about New Hampshire's Winter Wild events, visit

Rise and Shine, Buttercup

With one eye open, one eye half shut, I fumble trying to reach for my phone to shut off my wake up chimes. Boom, 4AM. I hop in the shower for a quick splash, brew the tea, grab my gear, my basket of homemade Toll House cookies, blast an obnoxious "Wake Up, Facebook." post to all my Winter Wild buddies, and out the door I go.

As my music is blasting in the car, I'm already fired up for the morning's adventure at the mountain. This is what Winter Wild does to the soul; it psyches you up—all the way up, up, up the mountain. I love Winter Wild more and more every season, even after 9 years of participating. It lets the wild and crazy out.

Night race start

It's Winter Wild Time

As I arrive at the ski resort, the mountain is quiet and calm, still dark, but soon to be bustling with the Wild Warriors. I cannot wait to see all my Winter Wild buddies. The ski lodge quickly fills with Winter Wild spirit and smiles. All the enthusiasm begins to light up the ski lodge with warmth. The camaraderie is contagious.

With my bib number and winter gear in hand, I'm ready to rock n' roll. I'm totally jumping out of my skin right now. It's now about 6:55AM, the sun is just beginning to peak over the mountain, Brandon Baker—the Winter Wild race director—gives his inspirational "go get 'em" speech, the countdown is on, and off we go.

Racers going uphill

Let me just say, the energy is off the charts. I'm hooting and hollering with everyone else. My heart is pounding out of my chest from all the adrenaline going wild throughout my body. I see all of the kids, the adults, young and old, all the different disciplines; runners, skiers, boarders, snowshoers of all abilities. We are all together at 7AM with one common goal: reaching the summit. I think of our team's motto: Inspiring Active Living. A chill runs through my body and a smile appears on my face, I think to myself "How cool is this?" Let it roll.

The mountain is gorgeous with perfect conditions. Everyone encourages each other all the way up to the top. As I approach the peak, the sunrise is magnificent and the view is breathtaking. I feel on top of the world. It's an incredible feeling to have just pushed yourself up a snow-covered mountain as the sun is rising.


Down We Go

Uphill is fun, however, the downhill is our reward. Boogie time; shake, rattle, and roll! Before I realize it, I'm at the finish. I'm exhausted but very happy that I've conquered another mountain; we've conquered another mountain. The finishers and spectators pile into the ski lodge after finishing to warm up and tell their tales of adventure to each other. Everyone seems so overly playful and there is a rising energy throughout the lodge. I'm feeling as giddy as ever. Who said I am almost 57 years old? Winter Wild keeps me young at heart.

Runners going downhill

Next up come the awards and the well-known post-race raffle. I think it's one of the best raffles, loaded with dynamite prizes. I'm always in amazement with the continual buzz and merriment that is going on throughout the morning. At the end of the celebration, there are so many hugs and gratitude runs deep. It's just another element that sets Winter Wild apart.

Winter Wild is more than just a race series to me; I believe it has charm, a magic, and a spirit that warms the heart. It inspires people to stay healthy and active in our great outdoors during the winter months in New England. What better way to see the Northeast than from on top of a New Hampshire ski mountain as the sun rises? I invite more Winter Wild Warriors to come to the races and get crazy, WILD with me.

Jumping for joy at the finish

Written By
Robin Allenburke, Winter Wild & Team AMP