2022 Vermont 50K Trail Run

For my 20th time doing the Vermont 50 Mile Ride & Run, I opted to do it on my feet. That decision was made back in May when race registration opened. I’m not exactly sure why I chose to mix it up for the first time since 2009, when I last ran the 50K, but it felt right back in May, and it still felt right at the start today.

I’ll definitely be back on the bike for 2023 because my body can only take running the 50K once every 13 years! I also ran most of the course (33 miles) in 2007 when I snapped my chain (twice) in the first 17 miles, and couldn’t repair it. Since then, I’ve almost exclusively ridden my singlespeed. I think that chain incident is what spurred me to get my singlespeed mountain bike.

Since 1999, I’ve only missed three of the races. Of course we all missed in 2020 when the race was cancelled. Our family were there in 2010 and 2014 but I didn’t race. In 2010, I was only three weeks out from the IRONMAN World Championships so I opted to watch. I couldn’t take a chance at crashing and it wouldn’t have been good preparation for my second “A” race of that season. In 2014, I had a broken scapula from a Labor Day Weekend road crash and couldn’t ride. 2015 is the only time that both Debbie and I have missed the race completely since we met in the Ascutney parking lot in ’99. The reason was that we were in Japan for a business trip and ULTRA Trail MT. FUJI. This was her 17th VT50 today. She has missed on a few occasions because of pregnancy and birth. Our kids were born in August and September. In addition to missing for UTMF, she skipped in 2011 because Grindstone was a week later. For many years in Vermont, the 50-miler was her focus, but she has mixed in a handful of 50K’s, and the last three times, she rode it on the mountain bike.

That miss for Japan was good at the time, but I don’t think we will intentionally miss a VT50 ever again. Something would have to come up to pull us away. It’s become a family affair. Shepard rode with us in 2019 and 2021, but this year, he is 100% focused on high school cross country, and even riding easy wouldn’t be good for his training program. He missed riding today, but hung out with Dahlia, and spent time at the new Ascutney Trails mountain bike skills park, which is fabulous.

Today’s race was a tough one. The conditions were perfect. It was cool and breezy. The temperature at the start was around 44 degrees Fahrenheit and it warmed up by early afternoon into the low-60’s. The rain held off until 2:00 P.M. and thankfully Debbie and I were finished by then. It was mostly cloudy, but there were occasional breaks of sun, especially earlier in the morning. The 50-miler started at 6:00 A.M., but the 50K started at 8:00 A.M., so we got some extra rest, which was welcome.

Debbie and I were only together for the first mile. On the first big dirt road climb, I pulled away. I was feeling good, especially on the climbs so I ran my own pace. I wore Altra Olympus 4.0 shoes, and I wore an UltrAspire hydration pack. I’ve had a few aches and pains recently, but most 49 year-olds do. My legs held up for 25 miles, but then they seized up.

I spent a good part of the race running with women’s leader Leah Nicholson. She ended up in 2nd after we both got caught around the 25 mile mark when I started to slow. She and eventual winner Vanessa Hartstein were running strongly, and they must have had a good battle because they put 20 minutes into me in less than seven miles. I was really hurting and a total of seven people ended up passing me. It sucks to fade so badly, but running these distances doesn’t play to my strengths and I was happy to spend the time on this lovely course and see it from a different perspective. It was nice to run with Leah and learn a bit about her. That helped make some of the time pass more quickly.

Debbie finished 11.5 minutes behind me in 16th overall (5th woman and 2nd in her age group). If the race was a few miles longer, she would have caught me, which would be consistent with all of the ultras we have run together. On a faster course like the VT50K, I can hold her off if I build a big enough lead in the early stages and delay my blow-up as long as possible. The second half of the course runs slower, but I was even slower than that!

Yesterday’s pre-race festivities were fun. The weather was fabulous with bright sunshine. Once again, Debbie was the Race Director of the kids races. There were: 1-mile MTB race, 2-mile MTB race, 1/2-mile trail run, 1-mile trail run, and a 2-mile trail run. She laid out the loop course earlier in the summer when she and I made a visit to Brownsville. Dahlia and I were course marshals and Shepard rode his MTB in front of the fields as the “rabbit.” Several of our friends, including Tricia Dowcett and Arlen Zane Wenzel were also race volunteers.

It was great to see so many friends at the race. Lots of people say hello to us. When you have been around an event like this, for a long time, people get to know you. Once again, kudos go to Race Director Mike Silverman and the race committee. The aid stations were stocked full and the volunteers were great. This race is a big fundraiser for Vermont Adaptive Ski & Sports. On the drive home, I pulled off the highway to stretch my legs. Shepard and I got out of the car, and while we were stretching, he said, “I love Vermont.” I couldn’t agree more.

Race Results

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