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Clearing life’s hurdles: Corinth ex-Marine runs to help veterans

  • Jason Mosel, of Corinth, Vt., is an ex-Marine who has set up his first Devils Den ultramarathon for Oct. 10 at Wrights Mountain in Bradford, Vt. Mosel is at his home on Friday, Sept. 18, 2020, where he has cleared running paths in the nearby woods. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Jason Mosel, of Corinth, Vt., walks back to his home after looking at his vegetable garden on Friday, Sept. 18, 2020, in Corinth. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Colchester, Vt., native Josh Pallotta, shown during his Vermont National Guard deployment in Afghanistan in an undated photograph. Former Marine Jason Mosel, of Corinth, is hosting an ultramarathon in Bradford, Vt., on Oct. 10, to benefit a fund in Pallotta's memory to support veterans struggling with the returns to civilian life. Pallotta died in 2014 at the age of 25.

Valley News Sports Editor
Published: 9/23/2020 11:15:36 AM
Modified: 9/23/2020 11:35:37 AM

CORINTH — Long-distance running has provided a level of peace and well-being that Jason Mosel long needed. He’s using it to aid others in the ways it helped him.

Despite the coronavirus pandemic’s attempts to stall his efforts, Mosel will stage the Devil’s Den Ultra Run on Wright’s Mountain in Bradford, Vt., on Oct. 10. The ultramarathon — which will also support the Bradford Conservation Commission’s Friends of Wright’s Mountain Fund — will send 15 athletes out for 24 hours of circuits around a 5-mile loop through the town-owned conservation land to raise money to help military veterans through the Josh Pallotta Fund.

Mosel, a 35-year-old Dartmouth College network engineer, discovered ultramarathoning as a way to chase the demons that haunted him during and after a four-year stint in the Marines that included a year of active duty as a tow gunner in Iraq. Depression, medication, alcoholism and a failed suicide attempt — all tied to post-traumatic stress disorder — dominated Mosel’s life until a friend convinced him to try a 10-mile obstacle course race six years ago.

Mosel now goes long distances to help veterans who suffer the same mental health issues he did.

“I want to open it up to others who think they’re not capable of doing something like this,” Mosel explained in a phone interview last week. “All of us out there are going to break barriers we didn’t think possible. That’s what really drove me to put on a race like this, to allow people to break down barriers they’ve built for themselves.”

A Colchester, Vt., native who was instrumental in the founding of the school’s boys lacrosse program, Pallotta served in the military as a member of the Vermont National Guard in Afghanistan. Unlike Mosel, Pallotta didn’t survive his experience, taking his own life in 2014 at the age of 25.

Pallotta’s mother, Valerie, is a co-director of the fund and is wrapping up efforts to open Josh’s House, a wellness-recreation facility geared toward helping veterans. She is open about her son’s death in the hopes of raising awareness to the troubles many veterans face upon their stateside returns.

She met Mosel about a year ago during a fundraising event. He’s become a friend and source of inspiration since.

“He’s amazing; he’s a rare specimen,” Valerie said. “Just his resilience, from where he’s come what with his struggles with PTSD, his suicide attempt. It’s amazing to see him grasp onto this fitness and just push himself at so many levels. He’s amazing man; his wife (Amber) is amazing. … The two of them are such a great couple of people to look up to.”

Mosel grew up in Waterbury, Conn., and had no interest in athletics as a teenager. He was a 16-year-old high school junior when the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks — “Our generation’s Pearl Harbor,” he calls them — occurred in New York and Washington, and they motivated him to enlist in the Marine Corps. After basic training, he was stationed at Camp Pendleton, between Los Angeles and San Diego, when he wasn’t on active duty in Iraq.

Mosel earned an honorable discharge in 2007 after four years in the corps. The things he saw affected him greatly and adversely.

“After people get out of the military, there is a form of depression,” he described. “You are basically trained to live a specific way 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Then they give you a paper and say, ‘No more. You go back.’ It feels weirder to come back to the civilian world than being in the military.”

The route to a level of normalcy ended up being through athletic activity.

Joining a friend for an obstacle course race in 2014 led to bigger things. Soon Mosel was trying 50- and 100-mile runs, the infamous Spartan Death Race in Pittsfield, Vt., and other endurance activities. An attempt at breaking the Guinness world record for burpees in a 12-hour period last year resulted in a meeting with Valerie Pallotta, and Mosel has been gearing his endurance efforts toward helping the Josh Pallotta Fund since.

Josh’s House was to open earlier last spring in Colchester, but the pandemic slowed construction. Valerie Pallotta is hopeful the facility will be online before the end of the year. Mosel has helped there, too, getting Comcast — a former employer — to donate a computer lab.

With his plans for the Devil’s Den Ultra curtailed, Mosel is looking at next month’s inaugural event as a dry run for the future.

“Being with what I went through and what Val went through and what all veterans go through, some have it worse,” Mosel said. “We’re in a community together. We have strong connections with the mission due to our backgrounds. That’s why we’re so passionate about it.

“Any given day, I’m just a regular guy that’s not willing to quit.”

Greg Fennell can be reached at gfennell@vnews.com or 603-727-3226.




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