Uphill Bonanza Benefits Lyndon Outing Club

March 16, 2021

Under a beautiful blue sky, race organizer Jesse Holden gave his final instructions to the 70 skiers and hikers lined up at the start of the LOC 6 Hour Uphill Bonanza at the Lyndon Outing Club (LOC) on Saturday morning. For six hours, as teams or individuals, the competitors made as many laps as possible from the bottom of the mountain to the top and back. As Jesse wrote in an email to the participants Saturday night, “We did hundreds of laps and racked a ridiculous amount of vert along the way!”  


Jesse is a physical education teacher at St. Johnsbury Academy and no stranger to endurance events, whether hiking on the Appalachian Trail or recording as many ascents as possible of Mt. Pisgah in twelve hours. The latter event was a fundraiser for Umbrella that raised over $5,000 in December. Saturday’s event was held as a fundraiser for the Lyndon Outing Club and raised $3,000.


Each of those “hundreds of laps” began at the base lodge. Skiers skinned their way up along the Orchard Trail while hikers took a more direct route to the top, up the face of the open slope. Reaching the top, after roughly 380 feet in vertical gain, meant they were only halfway. The descent still waited. Holden estimates that the racers traveled a combined 500 miles by the end of the day and climbed 225,000 feet.


Holden said, “During this really hard time of forced separation and political and social tension, I wanted to bring people together in a safe way and merge my love of endurance with raising money to help in building a stronger community and connection.  I wanted to make people smile and found a way to do that and raise money for some non-profits at the same time!  It brought me a huge amount of joy knowing I helped out the LOC financially and the participants to feel connected, even if it was just for a day!”


After seeing the joy it brought people, I think I am going to start a non-profit called NEK Endurance with the aim of running community events that raise money for different organizations in our community.”


The event also served as a real-life project for the students in Mr. Shea’s Digital Design II class. The students worked with Mr. Holden’s details and information to develop several promotional designs. They were required to meet deadlines and conduct critiques, which helped keep everyone motivated to create a polished end product. Mr. Shea, who also attended the event to record stills and video footage, said, “for the students, especially in a higher-level course, this offered us an opportunity to work with a client, meet deadlines, and create work that would be used in the real world.” 


In addition to Mr. Shea and his students, Brandon Legendre, who also teaches physical education at SJA, assisted Mr. Holden on Saturday by keeping track of 70 people and tallying laps.


Headmaster Sharon Howell said, “For the second time in a few months, Jesse Holden has motivated the local community to get moving outdoors for good causes, which is exactly what all of us need right now.  His energy and focus is inspiring to us, to our students, and to everyone who gets to be part of these events in any way. We feel incredibly fortunate to have him and his family at SJA.”

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