Monthly Archives: August 2015

Kelly Brush Century Ride

Kelly Brush Davisson has a story to tell and work to do. The Kelly Brush Century Ride, September 12, 2015, will help. It is a ride to savor, remember, and feel good about.  Read below what was featured in the Rutland Herald & Times Argus ACTIVE VERMONT section on 8-23-2015.

Kelly Brush Davisson at the start of the 2014 Kelly Brush Century Ride

Kelly Brush Davisson at the start of the 2014 Kelly Brush Century Ride

Active Vermont: ‘Getting people back to life’

As the story goes, Forest Carey, head alpine ski coach at Middlebury College in 2006, sent his athletes home for the summer with the mandate to each to “Raise $1,000 or don’t come back.”

Though there may not have been teeth in this charge, the 20 or so member team one-upped their coach by raising $60,000 for their injured teammate, Kelly Brush, to purchase adaptive equipment that would allow her to pursue her athletic dreams.

Today, Kelly Brush Davisson is still dipping into those funds.
But there’s far more to this story. Let’s go back to the beginning.

Kelly grew up skiing in Vermont and, after graduating from the Green Mountain Valley School, went on to ski for Middlebury College. Racing in February 2006, she crashed into a lift tower, broke her back, and became yet another in the growing number of spinal cord injuries.

The damage was done at T7 (the seventh disc of the thoracic spine located in the upper back) resulting in permanent and total paralysis from that point downward.

During a long and intensive rehabilitation, Kelly thought of her then-boyfriend, Zeke Davisson, her sister, Lindsay Brush, her parents, and her friends, all of whom were still out there on the slopes skiing and subject to the same risks.

“How could this have possibly happened to me?” she thought. Furthermore, what could she do to help prevent the same thing from happening to others?

At first she wanted to form a foundation to improve ski safety. “I felt like my life as an athlete was over,” she said. “then I learned I could get back.”

Getting back, however, is expensive. “It is so unfair for people who have this injury to be faced with higher life costs and then expensive equipment to help them live a full life.”

The Kelly Brush Foundation was born with a twofold purpose: to assist groups in promoting ski safety and, perhaps more significantly, to help injured individuals to explore and pursue the active lifestyle available to them with appropriate funding for adaptive equipment.

Zeke Davisson illustrates the problem a potential adaptive athlete faces: “If you want to do something active, say walk or run, you can buy yourself a good pair of shoes for less than $100 and head out the door. But if someone like Kelly wants to begin, even entry level costs are prohibitively expensive, starting at a minimum of $2,000 for equipment.”

The first annual Kelly Brush Century Ride. photo supplied

The first annual Kelly Brush Century Ride. photo supplied

Each year since its inception, the foundation has raised funds that are in turn awarded to selected recipients. In 2014, the foundation awarded $240,000 in grants fulfilling only a part of the $525,000 received in grant requests, yet up 62 percent from 2013. “Grants to date are nearly (if not over) $1 million,” Zeke said. The goal is to do more.

Zeke and Kelly, married in 2012, live and work as a team. I met with them at Sea Dog Brewing Company near Brunswick, Maine, where they currently live, though the foundation is located in South Burlington.

Kelly works full time as a pediatric nurse practitioner. Zeke is executive director of the Kelly Brush Foundation. One cannot spend time with this young, athletic, attractive couple without being caught up in their vivacity, enthusiasm and passion for life and their shared goals.

The fact that Kelly is in a wheelchair becomes irrelevant. She is just like everyone else.

This young woman overcame logistics and her own nerves and with the help of a team of friends, skied Tuckerman’s this spring. This same young woman not only skis, but cycles, plays golf and tennis, and drives a car to work where she pursues her chosen profession, suffering the same anxieties and stresses as others.

Kelly’s achievements are impressive. In 2009 she was awarded the NCAA Inspiration Award and followed that by winning the women’s hand cycling division of the Boston Marathon in 2011. In 2012 she was one of 10 chosen “Athletes Who Care” by Sports Illustrated, possibly topped by snagging viewers’ attention in the Buick Human Highlight Reel broadcast during the Final Four Men’s Basketball Tournament of 2013.

This year Kelly is the featured subject of a spotlight on athletes who have overcome adversity and turned that adversity into advocacy at the A2A Alliance. Anther milestone in 2015 is the 10th anniversary of the Kelly Brush Century Ride, which this year will be held on Saturday, Sept. 12.

Kelly Bush Century Ride

The sixth annual Kelly Brush Century Ride in Middlebury on Saturday drew 721 riders including 24 adaptive athletes using handcycles.The event supports the Kelly Brush Foundation raising money for spinal cord injury prevention and adaptive sports equipment grants and is one of the best attended events in the Northeast for adaptive athletes using handcycles.

Riders along the scenic route.

At a time when fundraising events proliferate, many “whose time has come” fall by the wayside from dwindling participation, the Kelly Brush Century thrives. Each year there are more cyclists, more funds raised for the foundation, and more fun had by the growing community that embraces riders new and seasoned.

Why a century ride? The Davissons are often asked that question since skiing is Kelly’s primary sport. “It just happened,” Kelly said. That first ride just took off and has mushroomed since.

Part of the attraction is the scenic and forgiving course, some of which is often described as rolling hills. The country roads meander through a piece of Vermont’s most beautiful landscape and along Lake Champlain. With the start/finish at Middlebury College, riders choose distances from 25 to 100 miles with optional turn-backs along the way. Furthermore, the event is well organized, the course well marked and the support excellent and plentiful.

Originally twice around a 50-mile loop, the full ride now continues up to Shelburne, and back, partly along the Lake. It is truly a ride designed for each participant and can be adapted according to each one’s needs for the day.

The Kelly Brush Century Ride Powered by VBT Bicycling and Walking Vacations. Saturday, September 7, 2013. Photographs © 2013 Rajan Chawla Photography.

Photographs © 2013 Rajan Chawla Photography.

Sharing the road with hand cyclists reminds all riders why they are here (For more information, to register or to donate, go to Kelly, along with most hand cyclists, rides the 25-mile segment. From Jan. 1 to 7 a.m. the day of the ride there are ups and downs of planning and stress.

“It’s a really fun event, “ Kelly said. “A lot of work goes into it to make it enjoyable, a good ride, but there is definitely a stressful component.” The day itself, however, makes it all worth it.

“A month after, giving out the grant money, makes it more than worth it,” Zeke added.

One look at a smiling Kelly on century day proves the point. But right now? “As I get closer I begin to stress about the shape I’m in,” Kelly confessed. Preparation becomes a matter of logistics and conditioning.

An active lifestyle

Kelly maintains her fitness and conditioning, her athletic edge, by training and pursuing recreational and competitive activities along with Zeke, her family and friends. “You should see our garage,” Zeke said. “Kelly’s equipment claims prime real estate.”

A hand cycle is just like a bike but with three wheels. It has arms, the same gears as a regular bike and the same tires on somewhat smaller wheels but equally susceptible to flats.

Hand cycles are built for a broad range of capabilities from recreational to racing. The entry level, recreational variety is more upright and has more padding, starting at around $2,000. Racing hand cycles can range to far higher costs much the same as a two-wheeled bike, depending on materials, components and design.

Kelly added to her stable of hand cycles a mono ski and a tennis chair (similar to an everyday chair but with wheels that have enough camber to allow the chair to spin faster).

“Tennis and skiing are some of the few conventional sports that work well with or without disability,” Zeke said. Kelly also plays golf by means of her golf cart that is a power driven wheel chair designed to enable her to stand up to swing her club and drive the ball.

An investment

The Kelly Brush Century Ride is a win-win, a sure investment despite the condition of the day’s economy. Entry fees and money raised buy more than a great day for the participant, and, might I add, some of the best swag and incentive gifts around.

“All donations go directly to our mission,” Zeke said. And that mission is more expansive every year. “Over the last 2 years we have grown a ton and have become nationally recognized,” Kelly added.

The KBF has made a strategic decision to grow and has restructured accordingly. “The demand is huge and is only getting bigger,” Kelly said.

“We can never do enough,” Zeke added. “There are 12,000 newly diagnosed spinal cord injuries documented each year. An average individual grant is $3,000. We want to allow anybody with a spinal cord injury to lead an active lifestyle.”

There are two types of individuals who submit grant applications. One is clearly the athlete, perhaps injured during his or her athletic pursuit. The other is the individual who may or may not have been previously active but suddenly sees the possibilities of adding something to his or her altered life expectations.

Adaptive sports programs that offer coaching and equipment fill an essential role in developing adaptive athletes and introducing the potential to engage in sports.

“We want to be the next step,” Zeke said. “We want to offer to that individual the ability to take ownership of an active lifestyle, and to be able to join family and friends when and where the opportunity exists.”

To offer opportunity, possibility, a level playing field, this is what drives the KBF. And this is what could drive each of us as we cycle through our ride on September 12 or ask our friends for support.

“I was so active before,” Kelly said, “now this is what I want to do.” Her message? It’s all about “getting people back to life.”

The Kelly Brush Century Ride Powered by VBT Bicycling and Walking Vacations. Saturday, September 7, 2013. Photographs © 2013 Rajan Chawla Photography.

Photographs © 2013 Rajan Chawla Photography. Kelly Brush Davisson and Lindsay Brush Getz, front row. Back row, left to right, Tom Getz, Zeke Davisson, and Kelly’s parents, Charlie and Mary Brush.


GET OFF THE TREADMILL AND HIT THE DIRT:  Gotta run. That’s us. Always in a hurry. In fact, that sense of urgency surfaces in one definition of the verb run, to “move about in a hectic or hurried way.”

Then there’s “moving at a speed faster than a walk, never having both feet on the ground at the same time;” or even running for political office. (google search)

There are wonderful quotes about running as a metaphor for life and how life is a marathon and not a sprint. Running clubs proliferate, as does running- specific gear, books and even movies. Running is touted as the best possible form of exercise. Running is dissed as the worst possible exercise.

To run is cheap (except for running shoes), requires no special equipment (except for running shoes and a water bottle), and, as Christopher McDougall and Bruce Springsteen say so eloquently, we are all “Born to Run.”

That being said, running and any or all repetitive sports and activities place a strain on the body. Good form and intelligent management help to reduce the potential for overuse injuries.

One way to enhance the running experience is to get off the treadmill, leave the pavement, and head for dirt. Running on country roads or trails is good for the joints and good for the spirit. What’s more, unless you get distracted and fall over a root or stub your toe on a rock, you add to the experience a substantial element of safety.

TRAIL RUNNING:  Trail running begs definition. At, there is this: “And so, you step off a road, into the wilderness, single track, double track…whatever, you are a trail runner. If there is some form of raw earth underneath, you are a trail runner. The rest is personal. It can be competitive. It can be spiritual. It can be for body or for mind. Whatever it is, trail running is yours.”

From newest newbie to gnarly veteran, trail runners approach each run as something new and different, an experience that supersedes the workout. There is no wrong way to go.

In 2014, Jeff Galloway, Olympic runner, coach and prolific writer, added his book, Trail Running, to the mix. While there may be no “wrong” way, there are better ways to enjoy and grow in the sport.

As is popular to do these days, Gallway begins a chapter with the words, “We are hard-wired to be trail animals.” More important than the action is the journey itself, the social component, the variety, the joy of getting away and into the natural world.

As always, Gallway espouses his walk-run training recommendation, a technique that works particularly well on the trail.

Often one finds runners obsessed with heart rate, pace, training plans and negative splits. On the trail, a runner is just as likely to find sprints fired by terrain or pause for a beautiful view, something a seriously training road runner might not do. Furthermore, trail running is not always about speed. Conversely, the racer who cross-trains on the trail will find that doing so shaves time off the paved events.

While Gallway discusses finding venues from Rail Trails to parks and hikes, he also shares advice on gear (do you really need to buy trail running shoes?), skills, training plans and injuries.

Safety precautions are the same as any other outdoor sports. Layer for changing weather conditions, pack fuel and water and wear sunscreen. Do carry a cell phone, but also tell someone where you are going and your estimated time of return. Better yet, run with a partner. Know about where you are going. Stay alert and keenly aware of your step and your surroundings. Do not allow yourself to become overtired or underfed or dehydrated. Plan a run that matches your fitness level or is designed to help you improve safely.

Whatever your trail running expertise or experience may be, you might want to check out a great little book published this year: TRAILHEAD, The Dirt on all Things Trail Running, by Lisa Jhung. Small enough to fit in your pack, it is large on information, helpful tips and humor.

While you may know that running typically results in a higher level of fitness, did you know that trail running , because of varied terrain, is both more forgiving and more challenging to a wider variety of muscles, ligaments and tendons than running on a flat surface? Even your core is more fully engaged when navigating the twists and turns, ups and downs, of the trail, as well as balance and coordination tested.

Running, partly due to the consistent rhythmic nature of repetition, smooths and soothes stress. Trail running adds the mental, emotional and spiritual elements of nature.

Since trail running is often termed “natural,” it follows that when you’re out there on the trail, communing with nature, you need also respect her.

Learn to adapt to and deal with rain, snow, wind, heat, cold, bugs, poisonous plants, wildlife and sun. Adjust your pace, stay focused and on course.

Run with your friends, run with your dog, respect trail etiquette. Finish your run better for having spent another day on the trail.

ULTRAS:  In recent years, unable to want more, runners have transitioned from marathons on pavement to distance events on trails and ultimately to multi-mile, multi-day ultra-distance events. Ultra runners are a breed apart. They embrace pain, ooze grit and define determination and survival. It’s not pretty, but it works for them. The rest of us read about their struggles, applaud their success (which is ultimately all about finishing), and revere their accomplishments.

Remember back in July when Vermont was about as wet as it gets? During the soggiest of days Scott Jurek, ultra icon, was slogging his way through our state on the Appalachian Trail, on his way to significantly breaking the previous record for fastest thru-hike. Jurek and his support team began his run from Springer Mountain, Georgia. Averaging 50 miles a day, the 41 year old Jurek traveled 2,189 miles in 46 day and a touch over 8 hours. He crossed 14 states with elevation changes of 515,000’ and finally kissed his wife at the top of Mt. Katahdin in the early afternoon of Sunday, July 12th.

In 2012, Jurek’s book Eat and Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness was released. Maybe he’ll write another one, give himself a break.

Moving beyond the press-grabbing Jurek and Karnasez and their ilk, close to home, we find the Vermont 100 Endurance Race. This event is one of the original 100-mile runs in the USA and a part of the Grand Slam Series of Ultrarunning. It’s hilly, of course, and though the route includes back roads and trails, running under a 30-hour cut-off leaves little time to sightsee.

Do ultras signal the running elite or simply those who have the tenacious resolve to always reach beyond where they are? If you can run a 5k road race, must your goal be a marathon? If you can enjoy an hour or so running a trail with your dog or your friends, are you failing if you decide against an ultra?

One thing is clear, however: running on dirt is here to stay. Each year more runners, walkers and hikers become part of the larger community of trail runners, those who choose to exercise, tour, visit, or race off road.

Furthermore, a second thing is clear. Vermont offers a smorgasbord of unpaved roads, trails, single track, technical, climbing, hiking, privately owned, community and state supported, drop-dead beautiful trails on which to run. More likely than not, you, too, can become one, a trail runner.


Because trail running is fun, you will be more inclined to repeat the experience.

Trail running shoes may, in fact, be worth the purchase as they often offer more stability, better traction, more sidewall protection and toe bumpers (you will, after all, stub your toe).

Wear what works for you. There’s no stylin’ on the trail.

Rocky, rutted, overgrown, snow, ice, mud – know the conditions and plan for them. (preferably stay off muddy trails, but if you find yourself on one, run through the middle and not the sides)

Always pack food, water, layers, light and that sometimes invaluable cell phone. If you’re in bear country, carry bear spray (and know how to use it). Remember that bears are climbers so don’t waste your energy climbing a tree.

Interesting fact: your dog, running off leash in bear country, might attract a bear and lead it back you.

Speaking of wildlife, a common denominator seems to be to remain calm and never turn your back and run away.

Here is Vermont you might come across a moose or multiple moose (the plural of moose, that is).

Jhung writes:“They are not particularly interested in humans, but if a moose feels threatened or is trying to protect its calf, it may charge. (It’s the hooves you need to worry about, not the antlers.) They don’t want to eat you as they’re herbivores, and besides, many moose attacks are bluffs. “Do not,” however, “stand your ground. Just get the heck out of there.”

Ticks present an increasing risk of Lyme disease. Check carefully for ticks after each run and, if found, remove the tick properly. (You might want to keep the tick in a Ziploc for future reference if you become ill.) Be sure your dog is well protected.See your veterinarian.

Trail etiquette is mostly about courtesy and thinking of the other guy. There are a few basic quasi-rules:

Bikers yield to just about everyone including pedestrians and horses.

Mountain bikers and trail runners yield to walkers, equestrians, rock climbers, families, birders and the like.

Sometimes it’s just a matter of being nice: “Older couples holding hands on trails,” Jhung writes, “should always have the right of way.” (Yeah, right, if an older couple is still holding hands, they deserve the right of way.)

Momentum is a factor either needing to remain in constant motion to make it up the hill, or traveling downward when stopping is difficult. Defer.

Passing requires mutual cooperation. If you know someone would like to pass, make it easier for him or her if you can. If you are the one wanting to pass, don’t surprise the party ahead but generate some sound or a few words. Though we are taught to shout out “on your left,” this could be abrasive so use with care.

Finally, preserve the trail that you are using by not “rearranging nature” or taking it with you. Don’t feed wildlife, stray off the designated path or leave even your energy bar wrapper behind.

Of course your trail running experience will be more enjoyable if you have trained properly. And if you train well, you may decide to enter some of the many trail-racing events held annually throughout the state.

Jhung concludes: “If you raced, any distance, any type of course, congratulations. Be proud.

“And if you didn’t race but enjoy your non-racing miles on trails, congratulations. Be proud.

You’re a trail runner.”

This story appeared on the Active Vermont page of the Rutland Herald & Times Argus, Sunday, August 16, 2015, by Linda Freeman.

Training for Endurance Means Fueling Well

Endurance sports appeal to athletes of all levels. Training is, of course, specific and necessary in order to achieve satisfying results. Nutrition, or fueling, is often overlooked as an integral part of training. The following appeared in the Rutland Herald & Times Argus, Sunday, ACTIVE VERMONT 8-2-2015

The tortoise and the hare of training and sports, by Linda Freeman

Endurance. The negative connotation of endurance is of tolerance, resignation, stoicism; certainly long-suffering. On the other hand, endurance is often linked with patience and perseverance that demonstrates moral and physical strength. Endurance of any kind is based on experience, practice and tenacity. Physically, endurance is built on a foundation of consistent, appropriate and adequate training.

Sports often fall quite neatly into one of two categories: aerobic and anaerobic, marathon and sprint, fight or flight, tortoise and hare.

A sprint, for example, requires a sudden, swift burst of energy that pushes to the point of pain or even collapse, the very end of one’s competitive rope. A marathon takes hours to complete. Though runners now race at surprisingly fast paces for such continuous exertion, it is still a slower pace than the 400-meter dash.

Athletes train for their sport with a mixture of base-building, LSD (long slow distance) combined with intervals, high-intensity work with built-in breaks.

Team sports are often more fun to watch than individual endurance events, but even the infielder, goalie or forward who must be ready to move, and move fast, must also have the endurance to play through one game or even an entire tournament.

Consider these: adventure sports, running (half-marathons are increasing in popularity, marathons, and the new darlings of the running world, ultra-distance trail events), triathlons (swim, bike, run), cycling (even casual riders score a century of 100 miles along with mountain bike marathons and grand fondos of “great distance or great endurance”).

Golf (18 to 36 holes), fishing derbies, single- or multi-day hikes and daily or weeklong sports camps are yet more examples of the need for endurance as a significant tool in one’s fitness and performance toolbox.

For the average person, endurance sports are possibly more accessible than speed events. Remove factors of genetic predisposition, skill, and even budget from the equation, activities based on acquiring endurance are, in some form, universally achievable.

Furthermore, endurance sports are often cited as a metaphor for life, a field on which to play out the challenges one faces daily, personally and professionally. Endurance requires practice, discipline, focus and the equanimity to continue through ups and downs. In competition or in real life, the power to finish, especially to finish strong, is evidence of the depth of preparation and training, of mental, physical and emotional endurance.

Other than spending long, carefully planned and executed hours of physical training, fueling well before, during and after an endurance event is as critical as the strength and skills you have worked so hard to acquire. No longer does one stuff a plateful of pasta the night before an event and assume that it will satisfy nutritional needs. Today, the concept is to eat and drink well all the time, not just during taper week or the day before. What, when and how to fuel needs to be as strategically planned and executed as each step or mile along the way.

Nutrition is a complex and often confusing topic. Below, Kimberly Evans, MS, RD, organizes and simplifies strategies for you to sample as you prepare for your next endurance event. If you train well and fuel sufficiently, you will give yourself the opportunity to perform your best and have much more fun as you do so.

GMSR photo by Jeb Wallace Brodeur

GMSR photo by Jeb Wallace Brodeur

Don’t forget the nutritional needs of staying active                           By KIMBERLY EVANS

We are fully into cycling season here in Vermont, and one thing that is on everyone’s mind, as it well should be, is cycling safety. Cyclists are heading out in pairs or groups, wearing brightly colored clothing, securely fastening their helmets and riding far enough to the left to be in the line of vision of motorists, but not so far as to be in the middle of the road.

However, one aspect of cycling safety that might not be high on the minds of riders is nutrition. Many experienced cyclists know that good nutrition is key to race day performance, but outside training and racing many cyclists don’t really consider nutrition as part of their riding experience.

Now you might be asking, what does nutrition have to do with cycling safety? When you are not fueling properly on the bike you are much more likely to be less alert and responsive and, if out on a long ride and not fueling properly, you are vulnerable to making poor decisions. In other words, your head just might not be fully in the game … or in the ride, as the case may be. Poorly fueled riders are more likely to make poor decisions and more likely to be involved in crashes. So here are some key points to consider when heading out for a long ride:

The last supper

Heading out for a long ride tomorrow? Make sure to really fuel up the day before and take special care to focus on a carbohydrate-rich diet. A great pre-ride dinner might be 1 cup of brown rice, a 4-ounce piece of salmon and an oatmeal cookie. High fiber and heavy foods should be avoided the night before a long or hard ride.

Fuel up

A good pre-ride breakfast will also be rich in carbohydrates. Don’t skimp but don’t overeat. A few of my favorites include oatmeal with berries, buckwheat waffles with bananas, or whole grain pancakes with a Greek yogurt. Aim for about 500-700 calories in the 2 hours before your ride.

If you cannot get all of your fuel in with solid food                                                      add a sports drink such as Skratch Labs or                                                                             a homemade electrolyte, anti-oxidant lemonade:

1 large lemon, juiced.
2 tablespoons of honey.
1 pinch of Himalayan pink sea salt.                                                                8-10 ounces of water.                                                                            Raspberries.

Plan ahead

Before every ride consider what you might need to bring to fuel your ride; how many water bottles, how much sports drink and how much solid food.

Some targets are one 16-ounce bottle of water for every hour on the bike, 300 calories of fuel for every hour on the bike, and a source of electrolytes for hot riding days. Think about packaging 300 calorie snack bags for every hour you will be on the bike.

Some of my favorite 300-calorie fuel packs include: a Kind bar plus a half-bottle of Skratch Labs, half of a peanut butter and banana sandwich, a half-cup of trail mix or dried fruit such as dates.

How will you carry all of this fuel? Most cycling shirts have great back pockets that make it easy to store fuel. I have also fallen in love with the biking Bento box. The Bento box is a nylon pouch that sits just behind your stem, making it easy and safe to eat from the saddle.

If you are less inclined to bring fuel with you on the bike, plan ahead to stop along the ride. Where are the gas stations, convenience stores or favorite latte shops along your route?

No matter how you fuel, a nutrition plan is the safest and best way to make sure that you not only don’t bonk on your ride, but also really maximize your performance as an athlete.

If you are really going the distance, and training for a ride of some distance — such as a half-century, a century or a brevet — I would highly recommend consulting with a dietitian with a specialization in sports nutrition for a fueling and hydration plan that considers your daily needs in the months and weeks leading up to the event in addition to your specific needs to fuel your ride.

If you are not hitting the road this summer on your bike, these smart fueling practices likely still apply to you. From team sports to endurance athletes of all ages and competitive abilities, proper nutrition enhances performance and athletic enjoyment.

Kimberly Evans co-owns Peak Physical Therapy Sports and Performance Center and Whole Health Nutrition in Williston. Contact or 999-9207.