Vermont 50 2013 Race Report

chilly, foggy start

Filing this in the better late than never category – dusting the cobwebs off the blog, and realized I never published my Vermont 50 race recap.  Oops!  Well, here it is 😉

 Another Vermont 50 has come and gone and, as always, it was an amazing day!!  This was my 6th year running the VT 50 (4th 50 mile).  It is an event that I have come to love and look forward to each year (fondly remembering the great moments, and using my extreeeeeeemely selective memory to forget all of the swearing, stumbling, Iwanttostopandlaydownrightnow moments of exhaustion.  That?  never happened.)

This year I was toeing the line on the heels of a couple of confidence-smooshing DNFs.  My motivation had hitchhiked on out of town, and my training leading up to the race been pathetic at best.  But, I was here, and I will NOT, ever, EVER, DNF at the Vermont 50. Hellll no.  I knew this would be a long, painful, slow day…. but I was going to cross the finish line!

Let the games begin!!

It was chilly and foggy at the start, with temps in the 40s.  The tent (and the porta-potty lines) were bustling with nervous mountain bikers and runners, anxiously awaiting their start waves.  This year Anthony was riding as well, so we headed down together to check in, warm up (he – rode around on his bike to warm up.  I?  put on a fleece and drank a cup of coffee.  This is the difference between ultra running and biking.)

The bike start.  Cold, damp, DARK!


Anthony got to line up next to Ted King!  Bad Ass!!!

Once we saw all 5,677,456,332 bike waves off (ok… maybe it wasn’t that many.  But there are a LOT of riders out there for this – it’s a hugely popular New England event for runners and cyclists)it was our turn to go!  Hundreds of us headed off into the misty morning together – such a cool sight to see!  You may not believe it, but there are a LOT of people who pay good money to run for hours.  Seriously.  It’s awesome, don’t knock it ’til you try it!! 

Here’s a broken-down-by-aid-stations recap of my day… I tried to put a lot of the terrain in there, but the details definitely tailed off by the end.  Here is a link to an overview of the mileage and aid station names/details:

Miles 0-12:  Coon Club —-> Dart’s —> Skunk Hollow aid station
The first few miles from the start leading into the first aid station is mostly dirt road, with some double track.  Fairly steep hill early on.  After passing the first aid station, we headed into the woods.  Some rocky, rooty singletrack opens up into a field, and then into some awesome rolling singletrack through a pine forest.  Awesome trails, one of my favorite parts of the course for sure!  After winding through the trails and a little more road, up the hill to Aid Station #2 and then back into the woods for a bit, we came out into the Skunk Hollow aid station, at mile 12 (and the first handler station).  It was still a misty, chilly, foggy morning at this point.

heading out from mile 12.  Having fun!
Stu heading out of Skunk Hollow to the road crossing

 Miles 12-32(ish):  Skunk Hollow –> Garvin Hill –> Cady Brook –> Margaritaville —>Greenall’s

Heading down the misty road, somewhere around mile 13-14ish?

The mist was still hanging around heading out of Skunk Hollow.  The next segment heads out with plenty of climbing, mostly on dirt roads. After making our way through the dirt road ups and downs, we took a left and headed into the woods.  This section winds through some trails lined with maple syrup lines, and comes out at the base of the most beautiful point on the course.  The trail winds up a few switchbacks to the top of Garvin Hill, Aid Station #4.  The skies had cleared up about 3 hours into the race (mile 15ish for me), and we were greeted with stunning views!  Seriously… the race is worth it just to get to the top of this hill!

Beautiful foliage heading into the woods


Going UP!  See that little white dot between the runners?  That’s where we are headed!


Aid Station Buffet… thank you volunteers!!


Top of Garvin Hill



The trail heading back out… with trees, mist, clouds, and mountains in the background.  Stunning.

 The next section of trail (~4 miles) from Garvin Hill to Cady Brook is a nice treat.  After a lot of loooong road climbs, this section is very runnable single track, with a lot of gradual (and steep-ish) descents.  Trails are not very technical, with easy footing.  Always one of my favorite sections to run.  The trail passes by the next aid station in the woods, and then follows a long stretch of double track along the brook, eventually with some more road.  I felt good coming into Cady Brook, but was starting to fatigue.  I made myself just keep running, as much as I could, and only stop to walk if I reeeeally needed to.  It was… ok.  Not terrible, not great.  

The next stop after Cady Brook is the Margaritaville Aid Station.   Always a fun party!!  Jimmy Buffett is blaring, everyone is wearing lei’s.  And, of course, it is in the middle of a beautiful horse farm.  I was starting to tire at this point, but kept plugging along, in my run/walk.   I have historically hit a pretty bad low somewhere in this area of the race, but so far it wasn’t too bad.  After another section of some dirt roads/trails we came out to the second large handler station, Greenall’s.  It’s always nice to come through the cheering group.  It was also a nice treat (for me, not him!) to run into Jonah who had injured his knee and had to drop out earlier in the race.  Thanks for the support! 🙂



Thumb’s up, still happy at mile 32!

Miles 32-50:  Greenall’s –> Fallon’s –> Linda’s –> Johnson’s –> FINISH!!
The wheels came off the train from here on out… The 5 miles from Greenall’s to the next aid station at Fallon’s  was a mix of some dirt road, double track, and a long trail climb into . It was tough going.

Somehow here I had managed to think that I was at mile 32.7 instead of 37.2 (wow… I must have been really tired.  and delirious.  and dyslexic.  because that doesn’t even make a bit of sense!!  I KNEW I had just come from mile 32!! Yet I was so tired and out of it that I believed that.).  My garmin was way off, and I was exhausted.  I stumbled on out of there, and somewhere around mile 38 had a 5 second fit.  Seriously, groaning out loud, hunched over, burst into a 3 second bout of tears.  Holy. Hot. Mess.  Note to self? – TRAIN next year.  No really.  When going as slow as I was, there is no room for meltdowns.  Honestly.

I was able to shake this off, get my shit together, and keep moving (ish).  You can imagine my sense of complete and utter joyful elation when, at the next aid station, I realized that I was actually at mile 41!  Ohhhhhhhhh thank Jesus.  Realizing I was under 10 miles to go put a little pep in my step.

I managed to cruise (shuffle) it on in to the finish…. passing the time by chatting with my fellow runners, including Sophia, who finished for the first time (her 3rd attempt) at the age of 15.  Yes, one-five.  Seriously.  Amazing!  The last 10 miles were a familiar blur.   We ran through a wedding site, past the tent overlooking the mountains.  Into the driveway of the farm that marks 5k to go.  The slowest, most painfully awesome 5k you will ever run!  Cruising those last familiar miles of singletrack, down the off-camber side of the slope and down the long gradual hill to the finish banner is such an experience.  And then?  I finished.  Done.  It was long.  It was slow.  But it was a wonderful, beautiful, inspiring day.


The Vermont 50 is always an experience to remember, and this year did not disappoint.  The weather was absolutely perfect, the people were great, as always.  Such a great day.  I just kept thinking, over and over, how damn LUCKY I was to be able to be out there experiencing this day.  I will most definitely be back, of course.  Big, Big thanks to the race director and hard working volunteers that make this day possible.  Your dedication is greatly appreciated — keep up the good (scratch that – great) work!!

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