2012 Vermont 100 Endurance Run (Part 2)

Earlier this week, I posted Part 1 of my 2012 Vermont 100 Endurance Run report. Debbie just got her race report posted to her blog. I really had fun. It must have been the magic of Vermont that got me so pumped up. It was lots of outdoor time in brilliant weather with family and friends. Throw in a little run and you have the perfect combination for the ultimate July weekend.

Debbie didn’t quite hit her goal time and she didn’t get the top step of the podium, but that is OK. She learned a lot about herself, her running, and she is hungry for her next crack at the 100 mile distance, wherever that may be. The crewing experience was fantastic. Each aid station was like a block party/carnival/BBQ wrapped together. The themes were great. The vibe was awesome.

Start, 0 miles
We were up really early and it was dark. The stars were incredible. I think I saw half of the New England ultra community by 4:00 A.M. My first cousin Jon showed up to visit with his brother Danny, who was Debbie’s pacer. These young guys are nuts. Jon slept in his car in the parking lot. He was on his way back from summer camp at Ft. Dix in New Jersey where he was performing his Drill Sergeant role. It was great to see him. We hung around after the runners’ start and caught up, though we were all in a stupor. An hour after the run start, we watched the horses go off, which was very cool.

Pretty House, 22.5 miles
Danny and I roused our kids and my mother-in-law Barbara around 5:30 A.M. They joined us for the first two aid stations. The sun was coming up when we got to Pretty House, and it was brilliant. The first aid station is always chaos before things spread out a bit. We saw all of the lead runners, including Leigh Schmitt and Brian Rusiecki come through. Leigh had already gapped the other guys. Debbie came through in a flash, and was only trailing Amy Lane.

Stage Road, 31.5 miles
We headed over to Stage Road and parked in a very wet field filled with tall grass. We were hanging out in the van when Leigh came through. I got out in time to grab some photos. We set up our little aid station around the corner from the neutral feed zone and watched the runners and horses make their way off a long dirt road. Debbie mentioned her tummy trouble, but she was still moving well. I got some great shots. After she went through, we piled back into the van.

 

We had several hours to kill before the next handler aid station. We returned to Woodstock. We stopped at Cumberland Farms for supplies. Then, we went to the town green to see the St. James Fair. This was like a flea market, but with set prices at bargain rates. All proceeds went to the church. A crowd had gathered. They said a prayer, and then everyone charged into the tents when they yelled, “go.” We watched the craziness for a while, and then went to the Woodstock Farmers’ Market where we stocked up on sandwiches for lunch. We drove the kids and Mrs. Schieffer back to Silver Hill Meadow, where they spent the afternoon playing.

Camp 10 Bear, 47.6 miles
Danny and I got to Camp 10 Bear with ample time. We set up our spot and waited for Debbie. She complained about her feet when she got there, but her stomach was OK. She changed her socks, but kept her shoes. She was slow to get up the hill leading out of the station. I watched Amy Lane and Larisa Dannis move quicker, but it was still early. This was the largest aid station and it was a real zoo, with lots of activity and loads of vehicles. It was nice to head to Tracer Brook where thinks were more tranquil.

Tracer Brook, 57 miles
Danny rested in the car for a while when we arrived. I set up our spot and filled a bucket with water from the brook. Danny joined me in time for Debbie’s arrival. She had lost some ground and was in 6th when she arrived.

She rinsed off, switched from her hydration pack to a bottle, and took off. She had excellent aid station transitions and wasted little time. She beat Donna Utakis and Kelly Wilson out of the station and was on the move.

Margaritaville, 62.5 miles
Danny and I almost didn’t make it to Margaritaville in time. We got caught off guard. After Tracer Brook, we stopped at a gas station for ice and beer. I also stopped to snap photos of a cool tractor on the side of the road. We underestimated the drive time up the hill to the aid station. The moment we got set up, Debbie cam flying up the road through a cluster of horses, runners, crews, and cars. It was a little nuts. Kathleen Cusick had already come through in the lead. Debbie was up to second, having passed Larisa, and she passed Amy in the aid station. It was a chaotic few moments. I ran up the road with Debbie for a ways, doing my best to pump her up. She had switched back to her pack.

Camp 10 Bear, 71.5 miles
We made our way back to Camp 10 Bear and hung out with a bunch of friends. It was a real festive atmosphere and the sun was shining brightly in the afternoon heat. There was still a lot of traffic. There was a med check and all kinds of activity. The race had strung out, but we were around the same runners and crews as we had been. Jerry Turk (Mr. Bimble) was running strong and he had a throng cheering and crewing for him. Michael Arnstein had run Badwater the Tuesday before the race (135 mile thorough Death Valley in California), and was tacking on another 100. He won Vermont in 2011. It was fun to watch him all day. I chatted with Aliza Lapierre, Josh Katzman, Michael Silverman,Lloyd Thomas, Bob Mathes, and others. Debbie arrived, weighed in, and field up. Danny started running with her and they headed into the woods.

 

The Spirit of 76, 77.4 miles
This was a gorgeous station. The sun was starting to get low in the sky. I parked near the barn at this lovely farm and walked down. I had a friendly conversation with a woman crewing for her husband at his first ultra. The aid station was a blast with the Campmor gang, including Elizabeth Carrion Azze, and the Bimbler’s gang waiting for their runners. I chatted with Zeke Zucker and plotted the final two aid stations. Debbie and Danny arrived.

I had run down the steep hill to the horse’s aid station to wait for them. Debbie’s heel blister was really bugging her, so we pulled off her shoe and put on a bandage. She didn’t stay long. She was moving much slower now, but was in good spirits.

I packed up, shot some nice photos, and then headed back to the van. I was very close to the start/finish/campsite, so I raced back to Silver Hill Meadow. My kids were waiting for me in their bathing suits. We jumped in the pond adjacent to the field. It was lovely. The sun was low and the golden glow was fantastic. We splish/splashed until they were cold. While we were in the water, I heard loud cheers coming from the finish line. I glanced at my watch and it was 6:55 P.M. The winner had arrived. I went to get changed and they joined some other kids to make tie-dye t-shirts with a baby sitter. Good fun. I drove by the finish, hopped out and greeted Brian Rusiecki, who was stoked and smoked…all at the same time. Congratulations to Brian.

 

 

Bill’s, 88.6 miles
I had stocked up on dinner food at our campsite, and then made the long drive to Bill’s Aid Station. I had incredible views of Mt. Ascutney as the sun went down and stopped several times for photos. The dirt roads were rough, but I knew them well, from the Vermont 50 course. I found Bill’s as the sun was really low. It was nice to see Ross and Ashley Krause and their friends, who came to cheer for Brian and Amy. As for Bill’s, you kind of had to be there. The photos don’t even do the beauty justice. The sunset was unreal.

The views were fantastic. The vibe, with 12 miles to go was very cool. The aid station was set up in the shed/barn, complete with med check and weigh in. I could have spent all night at that spot. I missed Kathleen when she came through, but she had a healthy lead. In a mildly shocking turn of events, Amy had made a huge charge, and moved all the way back to second, in front of Debbie. She was about 23 minutes behind Kathleen (I can’t really recall, but could extrapolate from photo EXIF data), but looked really strong. I hadn’t seen Kathleen, so I didn’t know what shape she was in.

The other men were long since up the trail. Debbie came into Bill’s 10 minutes down on Amy, so it was quite the reversal. She was hurting pretty good and moving slowly. She sat for a few minutes after weigh in before I pushed her to get up and keep moving. It was a bit emotional for her, and at 88 miles, I could see that the hard packed dirt roads had taken its toll. I swapped her pack, got her headlight on, gave her Tylenol, switched her Ultraspire pack to an Ultraspire bottle, and got her going. Danny was a helpful motivator. I saw a few more runners arrive, and then headed for the last aid station.

Polly’s, 95.9 miles
It was very dark now. The moon had just been new, so the stars shown brightly. On the way back down the hill towards the main road, I crossed the course. I saw Amy and her pacer, and they were looking really good. I parked and waited 15 minutes for Debbie and Danny to emerge from the woods. She was running, but she had a good dirt road climb ahead. I warned her, took some photos, ran alongside for encouragement, and then returned to the van.I got to Polly’s in time to see Kathleen come through. She was in rough shape and spent a lot of time at the aid station before walking out. If Amy could keep going, this was going to be an interesting race. Amy arrived 14 minutes behind Kathleen, so she made up almost 10 minutes in eight miles. Debbie arrived 23 minutes later. She blasted through the aid station and expressed that she just wanted to finish. I swapped her handheld bottle and she kept going. That was it. Next stop was the finish.

Finish, 100 miles
I arrived without much time to spare. Debbie crossed without much fanfare. The look of jubilation from the Laurel Highlands Ultra was replaced by a look of relief. She was very happy to be done. She sat down and we immediately took off her shoes to inspect the damage. I brought dry clothes and Chacos for her to wear. She gathered herself and the three of us went to the med tent to recover. She had a nurse check out her blisters.

We cleaned them up and applied some bandages. Both feet, heels, and toes were affected. She tried to eat some solid food, but almost immediately, it came back up. The place looked like a M.A.S.H. tent. She was in a lot better shape than the other runners I saw on cots. We hung out with Jerry Turk, Amy Lane, Brian Rusiecki, and some other runners who were upright and mobile, before heading back to the tents.

What a day.

Awards
In the morning, our kids were up early. We took our time breaking down camp. I went for a 30 minute jog on the course and watched several runner friends finish. I saw David Merkt, Ron Starrett, and Brenda Morris. It was very cool. I had slept a little, but had been hearing runners finish all night long. There was even a Bluegrass band at the finish line. The whole family went swimming again, and we spent time at the awards ceremony and socialized until it was over. It was nice to see everyone get recognition. Our whole team was zonked on the ride home.

What a weekend.

Race Photos

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