2010 Vermont 50 Mile Ride & Run

This past Sunday was the Vermont 50 Mile Ride & Run. This is the most special race that we do. For the first and only time since 1999, I was a spectator. Debbie ran the 50 kilometer trail race, placing 2nd to a very strong Amy Lane. She has finished 2nd in the 50 mile numerous times (never winning) but has at least come first in the 50K before. This year, she was a bit off the pace, but smiling and having a great time nonetheless.

It is hard not to smile when you are at the VT50. The combination of the mountain bike race and trail running race is unique. So unique that it allowed Debbie and I to meet for the first time in the parking lot at the Ascutney Mountain Resort. A lot has changed in 11 years. I even saw that the lodge was boarded up and I heard that the resort was in foreclosure. The state of affairs is symbolic of 2009 and a far cry from boom-boom 1999 when we first did this race.

Our family has evolved now too. We are married, have two children, and it isn’t as easy to schlep all the gear to the race. However, we aren’t slowing down. With the Big One less than two weeks away, it was prudent for me to perform Daddy Duty, observe, and take pictures. We didn’t get hitched at the race in 2001, but we did do the race weeks before our actual wedding. However, this year marked a first. A pair of mountain bikers got married on the course. Fabulous. I was happy to hear that the VT50 is special for them too.

Team Horst had an awesome year. Debbie represented us in the run, while Arlen Zane Wenzel, Michael Wonderly, Matt Domnarski, Art Roti,  Mark Hixson, and Randall Dutton rode the 50 miler. Everyone had fine rides. AZW had a PR and broke the top-25. Michael, a fabulous new addition to our squad, was only a few minutes behind him. Matt had  great ride and was high up in his age group. Art and Mark were victorious in the tandem division. They crushed the competition on the super fast course. Randall had his best ride in years.

The unusually dry weather made for a dusty track. I did hear more complaints than usual. The 7:30 start time for the 50K seemed to cause more traffic on the trails. It may simply be that the running race is growing. Both runners and bikers expressed frustration about the trail congestion. This is one of the few races done at the same time on the same course like this, so most are tolerant of the situation. I’ve ridden and run, so I’ve seen it both ways. The MTB field is always sold out, with 700+ bikers. With great weather, everyone showed. The runners fields are growing, so it may be time to revisit the dual nature of this race. Still, I’m a purist. If they weren’t held at the same time, Debbie and I may never have crossed paths. I vote to keep them together!

There were some fast folks on the trails. The overall men’s MTB winner was Jason Sager who came from Ogden, UT. He smoked the course in 4:06:47. Second fastest was Peter Ostroski and third was Andrew Freye. On the women’s side, Bryna Blanchard was first in 4:56:14. Second was Kelly Ault and third was Sinead Fitzbibbon.

In the 50 mile run, first male was Brian Rusiecki in 6:36:08. He has had an awesome year. Second was Glen Redpath, one of those veteran runners who isn’t slowing down. Glen was top-10 at the Western States 100 mile Endurance Run this year. Third was Gabriel Helmlinger. Speaking of senior runners who are getting faster with age, 55-year-old Jack Pilla, was fourth. Aliza Lapierre, coming off a podium finish at the Transrockies Run, was first in 7:22:19. She was followed by Riva Johnson and Serena Wilcox.

In the 50 kilometer run, first was Dane Mitchell in a very quick 3:42:52. He was followed by Scott Sternthal and Joe Carrara. Amy Lane led the women in 4:46:50. She was followed by Debbie Livingston and Laurie Greenberg, who were only 12 seconds apart. Fortunately for Debbie, the race finishes with a very big descent down some ski trails. She was able to hold off Laurie in a mad dash for the finish.

I had a blast hanging out with the kids and seeing the race from a totally different perspective. We spent time at Dugdale’s Aid Station. There was a good crowd of more than 100 people watching and helping. Even Stan Tiska was there. We had a great chat. The volunteers really make this race special.

We also spent time at Johnson’s, the last aid station on the course before the final 2.5+ miles to the finish. The volunteers were super friendly. Mr. and Mrs. Johnson are kind to let the race literally go up their drive way and through the back yard of their farmhouse. They are CT transplants (West Hartford) so I felt some kinship. I want a farm in Vermont too! They took the time to show our son a newborn calf, though he stepped in a little cow pie and I spent half of the afternoon trying to scrape it out of his sneakers.

I saw so many friends on the trails and liked being a spectator, but there is no question that I will be back in 2011. I’m thinking about riding it again, maybe on a singlespeed. After years of see-saw battles, I owe it to my friend and teammate, Arlen Zane Wenzel, to show him who is really the top Horst rider at the VT50!

I wasn’t able to shoot everyone, but I got a fair amount of photos, though I missed the 50 mile runners.

Mountain bike photos from Dugdale’s and Johnson’s.

50 kilometer trail run photos from the start, Dugdale’s, Johnson’s, and the finish.

Race Results

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