DisasTouring the Valley
Unique Event Highlights Community Support of Athletes
The sun came out for RASTA’s “DisasTour” event in Rochester on Saturday, ironic in that the three-stage distance race was initiated back in 2011 as a response to Tropical Storm Irene.
RASTA (the Rochester/Randolph Area Sports Trails Alliance) began sponsoring the event in 2013, working alongside the crew at Green Mountain Bicycle shop. The White River Valley towns of Rochester, Granville, and Hancock – which the race goes through – all benefit from the entry fee proceeds.
The DisasTour is not a typical athletic event. There are three legs – first is a 15-kilometer backroads bike, followed by a 7 K paddle down the White River. The race ends with a 9 kilometer run. This year both the bike and running courses tested competitors with brutal elevation changes, and the high water in the river made for swift and tricky paddling. In addition, bewildered runners faced a crazy scramble under a Route 100 bridge to start their course that proved truly unprecedented.
Yet the event also attracts a unique group of athletes, with a great sense of camaraderie undermining their competitiveness. Part of this stems from the team relay option – on Saturday the race featured eleven teams, and several worked as quartets, with two-person paddling tandems. And, of the ten “iron” individuals (two of whom were women), for many finishing was the main goal. The fact that the day ends with a beer and pizza party at the bike shop reinforces this nice bond between the competitors and community volunteers.
All in all, as race organizer Kinley Tener commented, the DisasTour continues to reflect its origins, how the valley recovered from Tropical Storm Irene: working together and figuring out how to overcome challenges.