Monday, October 1, 2007

Vermont 50 Mile Ultra Run (9/30/07)

Saturday afternoon, Mark and I made the trek up to Mt. Ascutney, VT. We set up camp at the appropriately named Running Bear campground, which is about 10 minutes from the starting line of the Vermont 50 mile trail run. After setting up our camping hammocks, we prepped our gear and drop bags for Sunday’s race. Since we were the only guys suspending ourselves between two trees for the night, a few intrigued campers stopped by our sight to inquire about our tents.
My hennessy hammock tent at Running Bear campground

Sunday morning we arrived at the start eager to run. With the race finally underway, it felt great to be running after all the training and months of anticipation. It was 34 degrees at the start and it warmed up to the low 60s during the day. The cool temperature and clear skies made for perfect running conditions.

Perfect weather for viewing the scenic VT countryside

We ran the start of the race with Jeff L. from VT, who we had met while pacing at the Vermont 100 this summer. The first few miles were spent chatting with Jeff and easing into a comfortable pace. We ran by a girl who had crashed on her mountain bike and was being taken out on a stretcher. Someone indicated she had broken her hip. Although I wasn’t on a bike I paid a little more attention to my footing after that scene.

Our plan was simple: start easy, conserve energy and see just see how things went. Due to some recent injuries we hadn’t put in a long run in awhile and it really felt like we were entering some uncharted territory. My focus was primarily on staying hydrated. I carried two hand bottles and popped endurolytes every hour. The plan worked well as I didn’t have any issues all race and I felt energized the whole way.

As we made our way up Garvin Hill, there was some fog in the valley below which provided an amazing panorama. At the crest of Garvin Hill, at mile 20.6, we stopped at the aid station to fuel up and take in the incredible scenery.

We continued our comfortable, steady pace and reached Cady Brook aid station, the approximate half way point, in 4:09.
We made it to Smoke Rise aid station, the approximate 50K point, in 5:06.

At this point Mark was starting to have some issues with his stomach, so he was content on hanging on and following my pace. One of the coolest points in the race was a section between Goodman’s and Johnson’s aid stations. The trail passed through a clearing that allowed for a pretty awesome direct view of Mt. Ascutney. As we enjoyed the beauty of Ascutney however, the realization that we had to actually run up that mountain, quickly put a damper on the moment.

We made it to mile 48 at the base of Mt. Ascutney in 9:08. All we had left to finish was 3 miles part way up Ascutney, across the ski slopes and down to the finish. Mark picked up the pace and we blazed through the last section in 34 minutes passing several runners along the way. It hurt like heck to push it up the mountain and I wasn’t happy with Mark at the time, but it was worth it in the end as we were able to finish in 9:43. As I crossed the finish I was happy to see Shannon and the kids who just showed up minutes earlier and were able to see me finish.

Mark and I finishing

Receiving my finishers medal
Mark and I with the kids
Mark and I were pumped to not only finish our first 50 mile race, but to also log a respectable time and place 59th out of 195 runners (173 Finishers.)

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