Posted by: syncopated1 | February 23, 2012

Who’s idea was this? It’s awesome!

They rumbled out of the drive in a teal 1985 El Camino. This was the only car the brother and the sister could have considered taking on an excursion like this. They had watched the youtube videos the night before, and they were somewhat nervous, but more excited than anything else, over the risk they were about to take.

From Vassalboro, on that warm February morning, they headed east, laughing and joking with that comfort, ease, and unabashed silliness that only exists between siblings very close, and think nothing of traveling great distances to spend a single day risking life and limb for a chance at local history.

Their destination was Montville, Maine. Hogback Mountain specifically. He didn’t know where his sister had found out about this contest, but in his mind he saw it not ending…splendidly…but this also did not diminish his enthusiasm. After 20 or so minutes of driving they turned off the main drag on to a below average Maine road, they headed into the backwoods jostling and bumping along. Eventually, their path took them to a mushy dirt road in a neighborhood that was only described as hillbilly heaven, or redneck utopia. Battered, rusty, and rundown trailer lined the roads, their yards filled with salvaged toys, parts, bicycles; all mingled about cars and trucks that might have run at one point, but certainly didn’t pass a state inpection.

When they finally reached the gathering they crested a small hill in the woods to see 30 or so people dressed similarly in snow gear. at 730 in the morning most of these fine citizens were pulling on PBR pounders and laughing with bright smiles. A brief safety discussion, and the signing of a standard waiver, and the time trials for the 2012 Runner Sled World Championships were underway.

The idea was frightening simple: a very friendly man named GW had decided a few years ago that he liked three things; snow, Hogback Mountain, and his runner sled. Oh, and going fast. So he and his buddies (most of whom were pounding away the PBR pounders that morning!) built a course on Hogback Mountain and then started racing. Soon enough it became an annual, semi formal event. And we were fortunate enough to participate the year they had a film crew preparing a short documentary to be entered into the BAMF film festival next year!

The rules were very basic. Go as fast as you can down the track, your runner sled can only be made of wood and steel. That’s it. Brother and sister were woefully unprepared. Quite frankly, they had no idea what they were walking into. Their sled was rusty and rickety, the annual racers had sleds that had been spruced up, strengthened, modified (one man had a sled of a unique design with laminated frames and supports), but they all had one thing in common. The bottoms of their runners had been sanded, shined, smoothed and greased. They weren’t screwin’ around, no suh!

Information can be found here:

Sister pulled a sneak attack and coerced Brother into racing for them, citing, “It’s my birthday dude, this is all I ask of you…and that we drink beer later.” The first run was terrifying, hurtling down a hill with nothing but a half inch platform of old wood over half in steel rails about 6 inches off the ground at what felt like a million miles an hours! The second run was pure fun, and even faster, as he learned to navigate the friendly parts of the course and avoid the swamppits, that would slow him down. He was certain that in the second round he put up a competitive time.

They didn’t even place. Not even close. In fact their racer was fifth from last. Embarrassing! The only respect they were awarded was for showing up, and showing up in the Camino (which, friends, apparently awarded them a lot of respect! The brother was quoted as saying wistfully, “If only it was my car!”). As they rumbled back west they returned to their customary silliness, they commented often that they were excited to “get serious” for 2013.

February 18, 2012 turned out to be a beautiful day.



  1. Skylar, what a fun and well written piece. Wow. It dragged my mind utterly into that part of the country, world, lifestyles. I’d forgotten they existed. Thanks so much! Rivera

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