I am proud to say that I finished the Vermont 100 on July 21st, 2013 after nearly thirty hours of continuous movement! This was the first one hundred miler I have attempted, and I am super stoked to have completed it! I’ve heard it said that running a hundred miles is not twice as hard as running fifty miles–it’s ten times as hard! I can say without a doubt that this is true. While stumbling through the dark night from mile 70 to 90, I wanted to give up many, many times, but I kept moving. My friends and family were cheering me on. Many of them were at the race in person, and I couldn’t let them down! Finishing the Vermont 100 has been the most satisfying of all races because of the tremendous difficulty–I endured long periods of discouragement, intense pain and complete and utter exhaustion. The thrill of finishing, in spite of missing my goal time by several hours, is immense and made all the more rewarding because of what I had to overcome to get to that finish line.
My brother-in-law Jared and my friend Jaime also ran the race. The three of us were talking and watching the fireworks before the start of the race and didn’t even notice that the race had actually begun until just about everyone had gone through the starting gate! Oops! Oh well, our plan was to run this race slowly since it was our first 100, and we definitely started out in the far back of the pack.
Me, Jaime and Jared waiting for the race to start
At the start line when we realized the other runners were leaving without us!
The first 15 miles of the course were filled with lots of funny conversations amongst ourselves and meeting new people. The terrain was varied with ups and downs. There was about a 50/50 combination of trails and dirt roads.
5 miles into the race
We enjoyed a beautiful sunrise at mile 10 as we descended a long gradual hill down into the village of Woodstock, VT.
Woodstock was really enjoyable to run through. There were small groups of people cheering on street corners as the village was just beginning to come to life on an early Saturday morning. I stopped for about 10 seconds as we were running past Billings Farm to pat a young calf. By mile 15 we were heading out of Woodstock towards Pomfret, VT. We took a picture across the street from the mile 15 aid station. This was the first time I was able to refill my water because at the unmanned water stations were out of water!
Once we left the mile 15 aid station we began running up a long hill with many undulations. A morning runner (not part of the race) ran up to us as we were making our way up the hill, and we talked as we ran. This hill lasted pretty much all the way to the Pretty House Crew Aid station at mile 22. It was on this hill that Jaime left Jared and I behind. The picture below shows Jared and I at mile 20 still climbing the long hill. There would be many more to come.
My in-laws were waiting for us at the Pretty House aid station, and they had some Hershey’s Mocha ice cream for me! Dan and Judy Durand were there to cheer as well!
Getting my ice cream at Pretty House!
From there we took a series of ATV trails and dirt roads past impressive houses! We ran more uphill than down all the way to mile 30 where we had a stunning 180 degree view. The climb was well worth it.
We then ran down a steep hill for about a mile until we reached the Stage Road Crew Aid station at mile 31.4 . This steep hill shook me up a bit and gave me a few blisters, which Hannah taped up at the aid station.
I also took the time to change my socks, talk a little with family and friends, and then once again, we were off.
It was SO GREAT so see so many family members and friends at the aid stations–my parents (walking with me in the above picture) were at this station! On my left in the picture above is Ian Maddieson (wearing a white shirt and red shorts) who I ran with off and on for about 50 miles. I looked at the results after the race to find out that he is in the 70-80 age group. He was such a nice and helpful guy and was always glad when Jared and I caught up to him. He finished the race in 28 hours and 19 minutes.
Miles 31 through 40 were pretty uneventful except for a few long hills and a few miles in the sun while running on the road. We found a 35 mph sign for our 35 mile marker.
At the Lincoln Covered Bridge aid station I was the warmest that I had been all day. For most of the day we had been under tree cover or cloud cover, or if we weren’t, there was a nice breeze, but here we were in the full sun, and there was no relief from the heat. At the aid station we got some ice to cool us down, and the volunteers gave us cherries to eat! I carried some ice in a Ziplock bag for awhile and dumped it down my back to keep me cool.
Mike and Wendy Harty met us at the Lincoln Covered Bridge aid station to cheer us on! Wendy and I work together at Central Elementary School.
Our family surprised us by meeting us at Lillian’s (aid station #12) at mile 43.9. We weren’t expecting them here because it isn’t a crew station, but they stopped just to cheer for us as we ran by!
For the next few miles we ran a few miles of road and endured some quad-quivering downhills that really began to irritate my right knee. The hills were literally 1 to 2 miles long–it seemed like they would never end.
Coming down the bone-jarring hill to mile 47 my right knee really began to bother me, and I started walking on all the down hills. It was rather frustrating to me to have to do this, but I didn’t want my knee to get any worse this early in the race. Jared and I got separated at this point, but we would find each other again at mile 55. At the Camp Ten Bear aid station (mile 47) Hannah, my sister-in-law and personal athletic trainer for this race, gave me a knee strap to relieve the tension on my Ilio-Tibial Band (the source of my knee pain). My friend Matt Powell gave me a huge quart bag of food to bring with me as I left the aid station. I think I ate for about 45 minutes.
The hill out of Camp 10 Bear was the most challenging yet. We began running up a dirt road, but it soon changed to an ATV trail which was very steep (maybe 12 – 15 degrees). It took about 90 minutes to get to the top. I passed many people going up this hill. Jared and I met up again at Birmingham’s (Aid station #16 at mile 54.5). I laid down and stretched my I.T. band as Jared gathered some food. We took a few pictures, then ran through about a quarter of a mile through a soggy field.
Our next checkpoint the Seven Sees crew aid station at 59.1, where we would see our family again. At this point I was beginning to walk more slowly down the hills. Jared and I were together occasionally at this point. Many people would pass me on each long downhill. However, I was able to pick the pace back up on the uphills. I never dreamed that on a 100 mile race I would crave going uphill! Moving down the hills was getting more painful by the mile. The hills also seems to be getting longer and longer. The downhill stretch before the unmanned Tracer Brook aid station (mile 57.4) was about 2 mile long. The uphill stretch before getting to Seven Sees (mile 59.1) was also about two miles. I was getting discouraged.
My crew yelled from the top of the hill at Seven Sees before I was even in sight, just to see if I would even hear them. I was walking at this point, but once I heard them I yelled back and began running. This was a high motivating portion of the race for me. My wife and family ran down the hill to meet me and ran up the hill with me to the aid station. I was so glad to see all of them! They always motivated me to run a bit quicker. I changed my socks, shoes and shirt here.
Notice Matt holding a full bag of food for me to take when I left the station. 🙂
I was able to hold a reasonably quick pace for a number of miles after Seven Sees. I felt pretty good as I went through Margaritaville (aid station #19 at mile 62.5) and the Brown School House (aid station #20 at mile 65.5). At this point I had mostly climbed for the past 9 miles. Then it was all downhill pretty much the rest of the way to Camp Ten Bear (aid station #21 at mile 70.5). Some people call running downhill rewarding, but I call it outright torture. It was pitch dark now, but Jared caught up to me and gave me some encouragement. We were within sight of each other when we came into Camp Ten Bear for the 2nd time.
Jared and Sarah left Camp Ten Bear first. You can see Sarah behind Jared and I in the picture above. She had been waiting more than 19 hours to run and is obviously excited! I on the other hand was dreading the moment when I’d have to get out of my chair. Hannah gave me first aid treatment and the rest of the family gave me encouragement. Matt and I then got up and ran into the darkness. We made a slight wrong turn coming right out of Camp Ten Bear, but soon got on the right track. I’ll make sure I run STRAIGHT across the road next time!
The next five miles until I got to the Seabrook aid station at mile 75.1 were the absolute longest of the entire race. The downhills were relentless, and I slowed to a crawl. Matt told me after the race that I did a number of 35+ minute miles at this point. I don’t know how he could stand it! It was during this time that I asked Matt to find me a pair of walking sticks to help take some weight off my legs while hiking downhill.
I wanted to get to the Seabrook aid station so bad, and I could hear their generator, which made it sounds like we were deceptively close. It took us at least another hour.
From Seabrook on to the Spririt of ’76 aid station at mile 77.4 I kept up an excruciatingly slow mixture of walking and hobbling with sticks. I was discouraged, tired, and in agony. I didn’t know how I was going to go on, but I for sure didn’t want to take myself out of the race.
When we finally reached mile 77.4 I thought I had reached my max. A good friend of mine from my school, Bill Scarlet, was at this aid station. We took a picture together which helped perk me up a little bit. He tried to motivated me to finish. Zeke Zucker also talked to me and said something to the effect of, “Your on the cusp, but you CAN still finish. We want you to finish!” Matt and I then slowly walked off into the darkness.
We eventually came onto some road sections which were less hilly, but I was exhausted, and all I could do was zig-zag down the road with my eyes closed, trying to sleep as I followed the sound of Matt’s footsteps. I think I told him a few times that I just couldn’t go on any more, but still I couldn’t let myself quit. I was also very hungry because it was taking us so long between aid stations, and I didn’t pack any energy bars or gels. Matt was extremely patient with me and got me walking as fast as I could whenever possible. At this point I didn’t think I was going to make the cut-off time, and the temptation to get into a vehicle for a free ride to the finished was ever growing stronger.
We walked about 10 miles of gradual downhill, which was not as bad because I was using walking sticks. We strolled into the Cow Shed (mile 84) in the very early hours of the morning. It was still dark but the roosters were crowing! I saw two women drop out here, one of which had been running leaning to one side for miles.
I had to keep going–“only” 5 more miles until the next station, Bill’s at mile 89. At that point 5 miles didn’t even seem possible. However, I still did not want to take myself out of race. I have to admit though, I was thinking at the time that it’d be nice if I missed the cut-off time at Bills and was disqualified.
Matt and I lumbered along at a turtle’s pace and sometimes a snail’s pace. We began climbing an endless hill. Around every corner there was more hill. I was convinced that we were off the trail and would never find Bill’s. Matt ran ahead to find the station and reassure me. Lo and behold, he did find it and, to my surprise and relief/disappointment, I HAD MADE IT IN UNDER THE CUTOFF TIME! I was the last runner to be let through Bill’s (aid station # 26 at mile 89). At first I really wished I had not made the cut-off time, but Hannah gave me a pep talk, and I got motivated again. I had 5 miles to Polly’s (mile 95.9) where I knew that my Dad and other family members would be waiting to walk/run with me to the finish. Well, I got up out of my chair at Bills, took some electrolytes, ate some food, swallowed a few Tylenol pills and started to RUN.
The volunteers at the aid station started clapping and cheering, so I ran even more! Matt led the way with a healthy pace. I got a huge motivational boost at this point and once again started to believe that I could finish. I had approximately three hours to run eleven miles. Matt and I ran for a few miles, and then to my surprise, and probably Matt’s as well, I passed him and ran up the entire next hill!
I met up with my wife, Leah, and my Dad within 4 miles of the finish. By this time I had run enough to give myself a good buffer of time. It was so good to see daylight again and my wife and family!
I also met up with Paul (see picture below) who I have seen at my last two races (Coyote Scramble in East Burke, VT and the TARC 50/100 in Weston, MA). He walked with us for a while until we got close to the finish.
The last few miles seems endless, but by this point I knew I could do it. All the encouragement, kinesio tape, and blister first-aid paid off, and I was going to be a Vermont 100 finisher. My wife and father-in-law, Steve, ran with me through the finish line! I was and still am ecstatic that I FINISHED my first 100 mile race!!!
Thank you to my family and friends who supported me throughout the Vermont 100 Endurance Run!!! I couldn’t have done it without you!