Ski mountaineering race to celebrate life of Christopher Striz Bustard
The Chris Bustard Memorial Snow Race will be held on March 19 and will honor the legacy of Bustard, a husband and father remembered for his love for the outdoors and kind-hearted nature.
Christopher Striz Bustard ’10 MEM’14 — an avid ski mountaineering, or “skimo” racer — passed away on Dec. 29 at 34 years old after he was hit by a car in Sarasota, Florida while on a neighborhood run, according to his obituary. All who knew him remember him as a kind-hearted individual and lover of the outdoors. In celebration of his life, the Dartmouth Skiway is hosting a memorial snow race and relay called the Chris Bustard Memorial Snow Race on March 19.
While he was a student at the College, Bustard was a part of the Dartmouth Outing Club, Wind Ensemble, lightweight crew team and a brother of the Alpha Chi Alpha fraternity, according to his obituary. He is survived by his parents David and Elaine Bustard, wife Kate Lyon Bustard ’05 and son Theodore “Teddy” Bustard.
Kate and Bustard met at the College in 2013 while Kate was visiting friends and Bustard was completing the Master of Engineering Management program at Thayer School of Engineering. The couple was married in 2017 at the Dartmouth Outing Club House in Hanover, and moved back to the Upper Valley in 2021 after the birth of their son, according to the obituary.
“He always enjoyed outdoor activities, and he learned to ski at Dartmouth freshman year,” Kate said. “He had never skied before because he grew up in Florida, and he absolutely loved it. Winter was his favorite season. He was one of those people who was hoping it would snow all of the time.”
She added that Bustard would “throw himself” into activities by researching gear techniques, speaking with other people and asking questions.
“He would naturally build up communities that way,” Kate said.
Director of business operations at Whaleback Mountain Alex Lahood, who met Bustard at Tuesday Night Uphill Races last winter, also attested to Bustard’s athletic prowess.
“He was an incredible athlete, crushed the race course every night and was a really nice and caring person,” Lahood said. “He absolutely blew away every other time out there on the course each night.”
After learning to ski, Bustard immersed himself in telemark and backcountry skiing, and ultimately skimo racing.
“Because he did a lot of outdoor activities and built these communities, I think this has really hit those people in particular because this kind of thing happens a lot, unfortunately,” Kate said. “Cyclists and runners are hit by cars all the time. It’s a really, really sad story because he was a guy who was really passionate about all the things that he did, and he was known in these communities.”
The cost to participate in the memorial race is $35 for the shorter one lap race and $55 for the longer three-lap course. $25 of the entry fee will be donated to Teddy’s 529 college savings plan, according to the Ice Coast Skimo website. Additional donations can be made to the family’s GoFundMe page.
“When you lose your partner, your whole life really changes — everything from financially to [losing] the support of raising a child together,” Kate said. “It kind of feels like we’re really on our own at times, but there have been all these wonderful people that knew Chris, some that I’ve never even met, that are reaching out to say, ‘I love Chris, and I was really inspired by him, and we want to do anything we can to show that love.’”
Fellow skimo racer Edward Warren, who described Bustard as a “diehard talented racer,” said the skimo community was “devastated” after Bustard’s death and wanted to do something special to honor him.
“He was known [by] everybody as being an upbeat, fun loving, king-hearted guy that loved to participate and push himself and do so in a positive way that built others up as well,” Warren said.
The race is organized by Jonathan Shefftz, who runs races in the Northeast and will serve as race director for the event. According to Warren, Bustard competed in some of these races. Shefftz added that the Dartmouth Skiway “generously” offered to waive the typical entry fees to the slopes, allowing Bustard’s family to put all proceeds toward Teddy’s fund.
“I hope that the March 19 race will be a fitting way to honor his memory, while also accommodating skimo racers, [skiers] of all sorts, snowshoers and lift-served skiers/riders, whether competitive or more recreational,” Shefftz wrote in an email statement. “I know that Chris would have been game to be out there getting after it no matter what — he would want us to [do] the same to honor his memory.”
According to the Ice Coast Skimo website, the race is “family and first-timer friendly,” and participants can enter as solo racers or as a part of a team relay with a maximum of six people.
“A fun, silly, but ‘push yourself really hard’ type of event that didn’t take itself too seriously was the right way to further build this community that he was a part of and loved so much,” Warren said of the event planning.
Warren added that in their promotion of the memorial race, the organizers reached out to other groups Bustard was a part of, such as the trail running community. Meaghan Holmes, a friend of Bustard’s through trail running, has been promoting the event among mutual runner friends.
“They’ve done a wonderful job trying to make sure that it’s accessible to a lot of people who Chris has touched athletically, but maybe [do] not necessarily have that background [in skiing],” Holmes said. “That’s just who Chris was, too. He was very welcoming.”
Kate said her family is “grateful” to the planners and participants of the memorial race.
“I think he was an inspiration to a lot of people,” Kate said. “It’s a way to give back and honor his memory. I think it’s really important and really beautiful.”
According to Bustard’s obituary, a separate Celebration of Life for Bustard will take place this spring in New Hampshire.
Correction appended (Feb. 28, 4:48 p.m.): A previous version of this article incorrectly identified the race as the “Ice Coast Skimo Race,” and also incorrectly identified Edward Warren as a race organizer. Jonathan Shefftz is the sole organizer. The article has been updated.