Bill Thom's

UltraTails 2002 Vermont 100 Mile Endurance Run

Posted Tuesday, July 30, 2002 by: wilbur

Vermont 100 Mile Endurance Run – Saturday, July 20, 2002 – South Woodstock, Vermont
Ahh, Vermont. The Green Mountain State renown for its maple syrup, ice cream, winter sports -and- for ultra runners, 100 Mile Endurance Race run annually in July. Every year some 300 eager participants register, qualified by having completed a 50-mile race in less than 12 hours. Running the Vermont 100 earns you a commemorative plaque provided you finish under 30 hours -or- a silver belt buckle if you come in under 24 hours. The bruised and broken toenails, blisters, scrapes, abrasions, stiff and sore muscles throughout your body are not listed as official awards but you're sure to earn those as well.
Organized 100-mile footraces encourage participants to bring crews and pacers. This being my third running at this distance was Michelle and Peter's third time crewing me. They accompanied me to Western States in 2000, and Vermont last year. This year we knew the drill and the course. An extra bonus was adding long time Riis Park Strider (and webmaster), Mark Blaszczyk to "Team Thominator" (team named coined by veteran crew/pacer, Peter Block). The four of us met at Manchester, NH airport on Friday morning, race eve and drove the 120 scenic miles to race headquarters - Smoke Rise Farm, South Woodstock, VT.
Upon arrival we laced up our shoes and went for a brief team trail run. Then back to the farm for check-in, which consists of racer weigh-in, blood pressure and collecting our race packet. After a casual, mandatory race meeting dinner was served to the masses inside the barn… yummy pastas, salads, breads and carbohydrate-rich beer. During the gorging Mark purchased $5 worth of tickets for the raffle held after the race. Dessert consisted of Ben and Jerry's ice cream bars -and- one more beer.
I woke up without the assistance of an alarm at 2:22 a.m. after exactly 3 hours of sleep. For me, sleeping the night before a 100 miler is tougher than running the race. An hour later Michelle, Mark and I arrived back at Smoke Rise Farm. As fireworks erased the star-lit skies I checked-in at the barn, filled my water bottle, grabbed a bagel and walked with Michelle and Mark - past Steve Rojek (the farms' owner, horseman & keyboardist) playing variations of Chariots of Fire - down to the starting line. Michelle and Mark were clicking off pictures as the footrace started at 4 a.m. Collective cheers sent the runners into the night guided by hand-held flashlights and headlamps.
A mere 200 yards into the race my best ultra-friend, Michael Davenport pulled alongside me and we discussed the possibilities of the day. We run pretty much the same Midwest ultra circuit throughout the spring and summer. He also competed in my two other 100 milers. Somewhere on a pre-dawn uphill section he disappeared into the shadows as I opted for a more pedestrian, conservative pace. 45 minutes later, around 5:15 a.m. darkness surrendered to dawn and I dialed my headlamp off.
Near eight miles a race director instructed us to use the porta-potty provided and, "please don't use the side of the road for the next mile." There was one person in line. I decided that was too much time to wait so I'd just hold off. Funny how this zone, which I remembered from last year, comes just as the need does. I picked up the pace slightly for a couple of miles before taking care of that problem.
At 12 miles we cross the Ottauquechee River using the Taftsville covered bridge. It's a popular spot for fans to cheer on runners. One cheering comedian sarcastically informed me that I wouldn't need my headlamp for many hours. I thanked and told him that my crew would collect it at mile 18. I got to the handler access mile 18-aid station a bit early, though, beating my crew. Along a road section, a half-mile later I watched a car pull a U-Turn and double back to me. The passenger offered to relieve me of the excess weight bouncing on my head. Handing her my headlamp I gave her my name and race number. The driver leaned over and said, "oh, we know who you are." They drove down the road as I advanced into the forest wondering if I'd ever see that lamp again.
The next handler access aid station is 27.7 miles. Michelle and Mark got a temporary scare there as another team handler was desperately seeking the crew for runner # 263. Anticipating something terrible Michelle identified herself. Veteran Vermont 100 competitor, Zachary Grossman handed her the headlamp. We met Zach during the late miles of last years race. Calmed, Michelle remembered and thanked him for the service. This year he was crewing for Zeke Zucker, the runner who paced him the year before. Minutes later I arrived and got a good laugh as Michelle relayed this story to me. Mark snapped off more pictures as I weighed in and grabbed as much as one hand could hold. I remembered the next uphill was huge so I hiked it while enjoying two quarters of turkey sandwich and two boiled, salted potatoes. It was nearing 9:00 a.m.
Not far up the trail I caught up with John Caserta of Michigan. This was his ninth running of Vermont. Last year he and I along with six others ran off course for about 1.5 miles. We promised each other to be extra careful this year approaching that point of the run. At the 44.2-mile aid station I got to run in with Kris Setnes and Sebastian (her trail hound). It was thrilling for me to see Kris and Kevin at Vermont, a race they've both won before, even though they weren't racing this year. I weighed in only two pounds light but in good spirits with a surplus of energy. A quick visit with the crew and knowing that I'd see them in only ten miles sent me skipping off.
Well, there it was. The wrong turn that a bunch of us made last year. I made it again this year but recognized my mistake after only 3 steps, not 8 minutes! The course is well marked, no less than 3 yellow plastic plates with large black arrows point right but I was looking down and went wrong. A runner close behind was about to follow but upon seeing how untrampled the trail became I called back down asking him to check the plates. We got back on track and this crisis was averted.
In the forest at 51 miles I caught Michael who was suffering a bad spell. We traveled together for a bit and I tried to boost his confidence. He finally shoed me off stating this would be his last 100 miler. That troubled me but I figured his first class wife, Kris and crew would rally him at the next station.
At 54.9 miles Michelle provided Vaseline for the hot spots on my feet and a change of socks. Mark took more photos and Peter designated himself my "personal growth coach" spewing pearls of uplifting wisdom. Michelle stuck 3 slices of cheese and 2 salted potatoes in my hand and pointed up the road. The next 3.2 miles were uphill and I intended to run so I ate quickly while maintaining a pace that was just under my stomach-gag-reflex firing. It took 45 minutes to cover that stretch but looking back down the hill I saw no one keeping up with me.
At 60 miles we had more runner/crew photo ops. A great station! Jimmy Buffet theme with extremely friendly hosts, who'd love for you to stop long enough for a margarita. I was a bit closer -but- for the second straight year declined the margarita. As my personal growth coach might say, "don't let a race get in the way of a good cocktail." I can subscribe to that, but then the reverse must be true, too.
For me the race begins at 68.2 miles. It's there that you can pick up a pacer. I had three awesome pacers; each so eager that they had to draw straws to determine which section they would get to run. New bride, Michelle was up first so off we went at quarter-to-five in the comfortable Vermont afternoon. Beautiful bluish-green landscapes unfolded with emerald green farms and hills rolling out forever. We cheered at and were cheered right back by the horse riders who were racing the same 100 mile course but had mandatory rest breaks where we would leapfrog past. Michelle maintained an aggressive pace and moved us through her 15.2-mile section in 2 hours 52 minutes. We emerged from thick forest trail to the 83.4-mile aid station greeted by Mark and Peter, who waited on deck.
A quick tip of the scale showed I was maintaining my weight at only 2 pounds down. I grabbed two slices of pizza (yes pizza, which never tasted better!), a full water bottle and flashlight that Michelle insisted I carry just in case.
Poor Peter. At Western States he paced me 18 dusty, quad burning, night miles including a river fording. Last year it was 15 miles through Vermont forest and hills. This year his pacer duties were limited to a 6.6 mile sprint, much of that being dirt road. The highlight came at 87 miles where we pushed up a mile and a half incline named "Blood Hill". Peter brought us through his stretch 3 minutes, 40 seconds faster than I ran it alone last year; so fast that I never used the flashlight. At the ninety-mile aid station a time-calculating Michelle and pacer in waiting Mark welcomed us. It was just past 8:45 p.m.
Dusk was settling in on Vermont. We took some hurried photos, I topped off my water, Michelle casually mentioned that a two-hour effort over the last 10 miles would surely break 19 hours for the race, "but don't pressure yourself." That sent us off; the veteran ultra runner and rookie pacer. Half mile into it I requested Mark run up ahead instead of by my side. Unexplainably I felt crowded. Happily he obliged and made an ideal target to chase. We switched on our lights. With a near full moon we raced glow stick -to- glow stick, over and down the hills as they came to the final fabulous aid station at 96.1 miles. There we didn't stop or even break stride. Mark ran by yelling to those recording, "Number 263, 263." I followed screaming, "Vermont Rocks!" Some volunteers recognized us and responded "Go Chicago!"
The final 3.9 miles become rugged and hilly single-track trail. It makes for difficult running at night. Though he tumbled down once Mark kept pushing the pace, pulling me along. Sometimes he got so far ahead that he and his headlamp disappeared. A group of horse riders passed and warned us that a runner was coming up quick. In two years at Vermont I'd never been beaten over the last 50 miles. I took a quick look behind and sure enough, saw him coming, fast! Mark went faster, I went faster. I yelled, "go faster!" I was right on his heels. We were wildly rollercoastering downhill as the final runway lights came into view. Mark nearly wiped out where the trail ends on a downhill speed bump while making a 90-degree left turn onto farm path. It felt like a 5-K race kick as we finished in single file, all within the same second; Mark, me, the fast guy chasing us.
The "fast guy chasing us" was speedy, young Christopher Martin from New Hampshire. In the results his time is listed 15 seconds slower than mine. That doesn't seem accurate. Michelle said she noticed him tracking us way back at mile 82 while she was performing pacer duties. My time was 18 hours, 45 minutes, which is 23 minutes faster than last year. My finishing place was 16th, which is 3 spots worse than last year. There were many amazing performances at this year's race. Hans Put won in 14:19, getting to some aid stations before the proper personnel were there to assist. Ellen McCurtin dropped more than an hour & fifteen minutes off her time repeating as top female finisher in 17:51. Ultra-friend Michael pulled it together and got his best ever time of 19 hours, 46 minutes.
The course officially closes at 10 a.m. on Sunday and some runners "enjoyed the Vermont scenery" for nearly the full 30 hours. That's ultra stick-to-itiveness. An hour later barbecued chicken brunch is served in the barn as finishers are announced and hobble forward to collect their awards. Of the six raffle tickets that Mark purchased at pre-race dinner, two were called as winners. He shouldn't complain of blisters on his feet for some time.
Thanks to Vermont Adaptive Ski & Sports, the organization and beneficiary that makes this all happen, the volunteers, support crew, sponsors and fellow runners. Ahh, Vermont, you truly rock. Special thanks to Michelle, Peter and Mark of "Team Thominator", and yes, "We'll be back."

For more information visit the Vermont 100 website: http://www.vermont100.com

...copyright 2002, Bill Thom

2002 Ice Age Trail 50 Mile

Posted Saturday, May 18, 2002 by: wilbur
Ice Age Trail 50 Mile Run – Saturday, May 11, 2002 – LaGrange, Wisconsin
It was a glorious high lazy cloud agreeable Wisconsin day. Too bad it was wasted on packet pick-up. Too bad tomorrow’s race conditions could not mimic this day. I got to the packet pick-up barn near 8:00 p.m. as the proceedings were winding down. There were the usual suspects… Setnes legends, Kris and Kevin working the UltraFit booth. Race directors John and Holly and kids checking in participants while packing and loading boxes of supplies. So many faces that I’ve seen each time at this event; some of those featured in the 60 page “year book” that John and Holly compile and distribute every spring.
My “ultra-ego”, Michael Davenport and his wife Kris arrived and we headed to the barn restaurant for dinner and strategy talk. Michael and I ran our first ultra at the 1996 Ice Age Trail 50 and finished within minutes of each other. We didn’t meet until 2000 but since then have run Western States 100 and Vermont 100 and multiple Kettle Moraine events together. He was set for a sub 7:30 while I was aiming for under 8:00. Based upon our spring training and recent races we were ready for these PR’s. Short of getting our times we were determined to finish so that we would stay on schedule to earn our 10th belt buckle in 2005. Only death, prison, or serious injury (e.g. sudden lose of limb) would keep us from “graduating” together.
Race day dawned with heavy skies, temperatures in the mid-40s, and the promise of rain by noon. As always the 50 mile event began at 6:00 a.m. with a 12-hour time limit. New for this year, the start was moved from a half-mile section of road to all trail -and- the post race barbeque was to feature grilled rainbow trout along with typical Wisconsin delicacies. Maybe that’s why it seemed to me that the pack started off like school kids getting out for summer. Michael and I set off conservatively through two miles together before he went on his mission. I maintained my steady pace and watched him move past some of those quick starters.
If you’ve never experienced the Ice Age Trial of Kettle Moraine picture a single-track that carves through forests of pine and oak with hills that have the sharp turns and volatility of recent stock market performance. And, as in the market, it’s the downs that hurt me the most. It helps if you have well-conditioned quadriceps and goat-like confidence to race down those hills placing your footfalls between the rocks, roots and loose gravel spots. Chicago is only 90 miles away but offers no comparable training terrain. The Ice Age Trail also has stretches of rolling grass meadow and flatter areas where you can get a rhythm going.
My long time handler/pacer and new bride, Michelle could not make this year’s race to crew for me. I tried to fool myself that it wouldn’t matter while packing my drop bags on race night eve. At 26.5 miles I retrieved an energy bar from a drop bag and noted my pace was right-on at 4:05. A volunteer told me that I was in 24th place. I topped off my bottle and skipped over some scat that was dead center on the trail. It looked human (!) but I didn’t hang around for advanced testing. Half mile later I tried to nibble on my energy bar… it was rock-hard. I attempted the other side, but again it was like biting a brick. I tossed those 250 precious calories into the woods and ran on.
Around 29 miles I caught up with race director Holly. I’m always amazed at how well she runs (which I see every year) after all that she does to make this race happen (which I can only imagine). Turns out this year she strained her back while performing race director duties and was advised not to start. But there she was, hammering away on the trail.
I came in checkpoint 30.8 feeling good with my fastest split ever of 4:47. Happily my legs felt strong and ready to get that 8 hour coveted mark. A banana and full bottle of Succeed sports drink powered me off. Running the next two meadows and over the carpet of pine needles in the following forest was ultra bliss. My party came to a swift end, however when the rain started.
For me that happened approaching the 33.2 mile aid station. The rain didn’t take long to penetrate whatever protection the forest had to offer. It was also cold and distracted me from getting more calories at that station. Entering the station at 37.2 miles I was pushing hard on the inside but slowing and shivering on the outside. My hand was loosing grip on my water bottle, which I surely would have lost, if not for the sticky Succeed residue. It was noon, 40 degrees and raining steadily. I was only slightly slower than planned but all that mattered was finding my drop bag. That took over four minutes with the help of two aid station volunteers. Once found one helped me cut three holes into the drop bag for an instant cinch-sack poncho. I should’ve eaten more (again) but instead jettisoned my water bottle and left the station trying to generate and capture some heat.
Heading out to the far north turnaround point I saw Michael on his way back. There he was running in a singlet, soaked but running well. Seeing him like that made me feel even colder. Then the gritty Tom Bunk ran by me. Later Tom told me how he only had two 20 mile build up runs for this years race. I was being passed frequently at this point and recognized that I was way behind in food intake. At the far checkpoint station I asked for soup or anything temperate but wound up settling for a pretzel rod. Slamming three cups of cola gave me a false sense of warmth in the back of my throat.
The last 9.7 miles were a slow shuffling blur of rain, wind, mud and the struggle to keep moving forward while maintaining verticality. My internal dimmer switch was dialed all the way down. However, every time checked I had not sustained “sudden lose of limb” so no way was I going to drop out. When the finish line finally came (at 9:03) I was grateful to get my 7th buckle. Then it was right to the car for engine warmth and dry clothes. I dozed off for an hour then woke to call Michelle and give her the race update. We agreed that next year she will crew -and- I will get under 8 hours.
Wobbling into the post race barbeque at 5:30 p.m. I was saddened (but not surprised) to find the grilled rainbow trout was all gone. Settling for a brat and beer is not considered a consolation in Wisconsin and it all tasted great while sharing stories of the days events with the congregation. Even under the days extreme weather conditions there were some remarkable performances in both the 50 mile and 50 km events. Thanks to all responsible for this fabulous annual event, the helpful volunteers, and the glacier that gouged out this trail so many thousands of years ago.

...copyright 2002, Bill Thom

UltraTails: Vermont 100 Mile Endurance Run – July 21/22, 2001

Posted Thursday, July 26, 2001 by: wilbur
In revolutionary times Ethan Allen and his “Green Mountain Boys” fought to keep control of Vermont from falling into the hands of New York / British land speculators. Their methods of intimidation, threats and actual violence successfully kept the region an independent republic until under it’s own terms Vermont joined the United States as the nation’s 14th member. Vermonters remain independent. Prime example… Bernie Sanders, the U.S. House of Representative sole independent.
Ahh, but this is not a political nor history lesson, this is…

UltraTails: Vermont 100 Mile Endurance Run – July 21/22, 2001

At the pre-race meeting race director Priscilla Sherman-Tucker stood on the back of a flat-bed truck and spoke to those gathered of typical last minute stuff and then answered typical last minute questions. Some 100 yards away, downhill to the low point of “Smoke Rise Farm” were two swimming holes and a dirt road that led off into the forest. There, a banner with silhouettes of a runner and a horseback rider marked the start of the race. It was a relaxed, cloudless late afternoon. We would be starting 10 hours hence. My biggest concern was the announcement of a crotchety dog that lurked near the 50-mile mark. Would he defend his land treating encroaching runners as the Green Mountain Boys treated the British?

Like most ultra’s the wake-up call came far before dawn and by 3am I was driving back from our hotel to the Farm. My veteran crew, Michelle and Peter were going to catch up with me there to take in the race start. I checked in at the barn, grabbed the biggest bagel and made my way down to the start line. A keyboardist complete with tuxedo and candelabra was playing variations of Chariots of Fire while fireworks lit the sky over the two swimming holes. It was 3:55am. To my surprise I was first to the starting banner so I assumed the mid-center spot directly under it. The field assembled. As I finished my bagel Priscilla led the countdown from 10 and we were off into the forest following the beams of our flashlights and headlamps.

Michelle and I had run the first 2 miles of the course the day before to become familiar with the footing. It was easy going on the dirt roads but a bit uneven and rutty on the single-track trails and somewhat difficult under flashlight. My best ultra-friend, Michael Davenport came up from behind and we exchanged pleasantries. We have a bit of friendly rivalry as we run many of the same races. He, along with the usual suspects of Kettle Moraine, WI recommended this one to me. We made it through the first two aid stations together as bullfrogs wound down their nocturnal croaking and the bluish-green mountain landscapes emerged. At that second station Michael got away as I was looking over the selections for maximum caloric intake. The day was so young and full of promise.

The course that Vermont follows is generally fast and sometimes curious. 75% is dirt road and 25% is forest trails –but- occasionally those trails seem to cross the backyards of private residences. What are the logistics in getting permission for this? Around 8 miles a sign read, “Porta-potty Zone next 1 mile… No peeing on side of the road”. I didn’t test to see if it was a trap. At 12 miles we crossed the Ottauquechee River using the Taftsville Covered Bridge. How accommodating and how very Vermont. Should Western States consider a covered bridge at the Rucky Chucky river crossing? It’s good for me to be preoccupied with these abstract distractions early in a 100 miler.

I came to the 18-mile mark in 3:14 and was looking forward to seeing Michelle and Peter. This was the first station that allowed crew access –but- I was a little early, and they were a little late. They’d gone back to the hotel for some more zzz’s after the start. About half-mile after leaving that station the trail parallels the driving road and there they were, yelling “Go Billy” and promising to meet me at the next crew access. I smiled, gave them the “thumbs up” and followed the trail up a hill and into the woods.

It was near 21.5 miles that I met “Lynn from Oakland”. Standing at the side of the road, she had just given back a can of “ensure” that she drank at 18 miles. “It has 240 calories and my crew member, John recommended it.” I asked if there was anything I could do but she was okay then, so we ran together. She had successfully run Comrades Marathon, South Africa in June (54 miles) and this was her first attempt at 100 miles. As we were crashing down some of the steeper trail sections the horsemen (actually most were horsewomen) began catching us. Eight -or- nine of them in 3 separate packs. We yielded to the trailside and traded words of encouragement as they thundered past.

At 9am we pulled into aid station #9 of 35. Michelle and Peter were there shooting video and cheering on all 2 legged & 4 legged participants. This was the first race medical checkpoint. “Check me out!” I exclaimed weighing in at 150, 2 lbs heavier than registered. The kindly Vermont volunteer pointed out “You have a long way to go to make Clydesdale division!”. Michelle and Peter provided me sunscreen, sunglasses and my lucky “Chicago” racing singlet. The only problems I had to report were foot blisters and a bruised/broken big toenail from the steep down hills. These are minor inconveniences at 27.7 miles so off I went with half a turkey sandwich and full bottle of “Succeed”.

After recent bad luck, this year’s weather was something the Vermont 100 Mile Endurance Run had been dreaming of. Dry, high temperatures in the mid-80’s, mostly sunny, downright comfortable under the protective canopy of the deep forest. There is 14,000 -or- 15,000 feet of ascending and just as much descending before arriving back at the finish. Area elevations range from 600 -to- 3200 feet. Bright yellow plastic plates with black magic-marker drawn arrows nailed to trees mark the entire course. 35 aid stations ranging in distances of 1.5 –to- 5.5 miles assisted us from start to finish.

I pulled into station 16, mile 44.2 knowing my best miles were still to come. At 149 lbs my weight was still up as well as my spirits. Michelle and Peter were enjoying the day. They reported that Michael Davenport had passed through 15 minutes earlier and looked good as well. I left the station with 2 boiled/chilled half potatoes crusted in salt. Someone yelled that I was in 52nd place. All seemed right in Vermont. What could possibly go wrong?

Heading uphill just after 49 miles the trail seemed suspiciously thick and overgrown. Suddenly 3 guys came running down asking if I was sure we were on track. One guy from Michigan was running this race for the 9th time and had never gotten lost. We debated for a minute and went a quarter mile up another fork in the trail but that didn’t have any markings either. Retracing our steps back down, 5 more runners came up to us. It was like a bad Blair Witch Project w/o the annoying yelling for “Josh”. Finally we all headed back down and about 4 minutes later found the trail. Turns out that the racecourse made a slight right turn going up a hill while the wrong, wider trail went straight. There was one yellow plate high in a tree marking the turn. Easy to miss. Especially if you’re not on a horse. Lots of us did. For me it was 15 minutes wasted with at least 1 extra mile covered.

I got to see Michelle and Peter again at 54.9 miles and told them of the mishap. They noticed that some runners I had been leading were now in front of me. Oh, well… at least I never encountered that wild country dog. Michelle provided vaseline for my feet blisters and a change of socks. It was 2:30pm and with half a hamburger in hand I hit the road passing a sign that read “Uphill next 4 miles”. We were back on dirt roads and I could see everyone ahead was power walking this long hill. I forced down the last bite of the burger and figured I’d jog uphill awhile and see how it felt. That got me going and I wound up gaining good momentum. The 5.4 mile stretch before station 24 I paced in 9:20 per mile. Slow if you’re at your local track meet… fast as you come into the 68.2 mile aid station. There I weighed in at 149 lbs, still in good shape. This was important because here runners could pick up a pacer. With the 2 pacers I had lined up, I considered this my advantage over most of the field!

Peter Block looked resplendent in his aviator sunglasses, “Illinois Track” t-shirt, baggy blue shorts and off-white cap. We’ve both been members in good standing of the “Riis Park Striders – Chicago” since the mid 80’s –and- have run, downhill skied and cross country skied many miles/races together. The plan was for Peter to help pace over the next 15.2 miles, which I figured we’d cover in about 3:15. We set off just past 5pm… a beautiful time of day in the Vermont countryside. The horse race, which has mandatory rest brakes, once again ran by us. There were 5 horses left – all within seconds of each other! “Miss Connecticut” and her trusty steed was our favorite as she was the friendliest. The day was cooling down and other than the horses, we were moving faster than anyone we saw. At the 72.8 mile aid station we caught up and ran awhile with Michael Davenport. He was moving well and sure to get a PR. Peter was pressing the pace and we were passing at least one runner every mile. This was beyond my expectations! In the distance we could see the clear-cut trails of a ski area. At one lazy, long downhill section we actually ran down the horses as they were trotting along out in front. Miss Connecticut cheered wildly for us. Across the perimeter of a farm then back into the forest trail for a mile & half brought us to station 29 and the 83.4 mile mark. It was the final medical check and I tipped the scale at 149 lbs; still one pound over my check in weight. Peter paced us through his section in 2:52! I cleaned & greased up my blisters and changed socks for the final time. Michelle estimated my place to be in the top 25 – maybe even top 20, then handed me the flashlight and scooted me out with a “Go Billy”.

Leaving the 83.4 mile station at 8pm darkness was enveloping the trails, as the final remnants of sunlight could no longer penetrate the forest. It was like a magical Murkwood… but had modern day glow sticks marking the way. Around 86 miles I met “Zach” who was being paced by “Zeke” as we ran a small section of paved road. They complimented my pace and asked how old I was. I knew immediately reason for the question and answered, “I have to finish before midnight as a 40 y/o… else I’ll finish at 41”. Turns out that Zach was leading the 20-29 division and in the waning light wondered if I was in his age group. Relieved, they rooted me on. Just after that the course climbed a long, sometimes difficult hill. I pushed up it so hard that I totally missed the unmanned aid station at 88.6 miles. With a completely drained bottle I came into station 31, 90 miles in full darkness at 9:15pm. It was Michelle’s turn to pace so we fitted our headlamps and pointed them down the road. We waved goodbye to Peter knowing we’d see him soon at the finish.

Michelle is in terrific shape. She’s been getting in good mileage and weekly track w/o’s. It’s paid off as she’s placed well in the 5K, 8K and 10K road races that she’s run this summer. Around 93 miles we saw our old friend Miss Connecticut still riding and smiling. Somehow her horse got spooked by the beam of one of our headlamps and reared up, backing me off the road almost down into the ditch. That was too close. We continued at Michelle’s pace and were picking off more runners, some who were determined but reduced to shuffling. I was feeling the effects of the day and around 95 miles first Zach & Zeke, then another runner passed us. These were the only times I was passed since going off the trail at 49 miles. I didn’t like it. Michelle wouldn’t accept it… not on her guard. We came to station 34 at 96.1 miles, I gave them my bib number and asked which way to go. The friendly station volunteer pointed, “down to the barn for replenishments” -but- we avoided that as though they were handing out bags of horse dropping samples. “Which way back to the trail”, I tried again. He pointed the other way, beyond us, “Back up to the highway, then right”. “Thank you”, barely got out by the time our backs were to him and we were off for the final push. Our tactic worked. Approaching this last of fabulous Vermont aid stations we decided to move right through, not stopping for goodies. We got back ahead of those that had recently passed us as well as one more runner.

Back on single-track trail we pushed up a half-mile hill as the lights of those that were in pursuit grew dimmer behind. A thin, sliver of a moon and all the skies’ stars offered no illumination assistance as we raced across a darkened meadow. Just before entering the woods we caught one more runner. She asked if we knew how far the finish was. I guessed, “A mile and a half… but I’ve not run this race before”. She thanked us and we all wished each other well. I was surprised at how difficult the trail became… rocky, rooty, uneven and sharply downhill. We were balancing risk with reward as we pressed forth at this reckless pace chasing the hypnotic glow of our headlamps. Michelle took a sudden spill but landed softly and was up as quick as she went down. We sensed lights catching up from behind. Impossible… we’re moving way too fast. Just as I finished that thought we both recognized the pounding of horse hooves and were happy to make way for this midnight rider. We had to be close -but- couldn’t sense the finish line -and- green glow sticks kept budding at one hundred yard intervals in front of us. What happened next hasn’t happened to me since the Ice Age Trail 50 in 1995. I went down. I didn’t mind the awkward, downhill fall so much… it was the hard knee-on-a-root-first landing I could have done without. Michelle helped me up and I scrambled to locate my headlamp. I just held it in my hand and screamed “Find my water bottle, I’m going on!!”. She found it and immediately made up all 3 of the steps I put on her. Amazingly this happened within a quarter mile of the finish. Minutes later we saw the end of the woods, dim red runway lights and… almost caught one more runner before the finish line!

About 25 folks were there… race officials, runners and their crews and friends & families, etc. Peter was there and snapped off action photos. I glanced at my watch. After pressing “Split” 30 something times for the past 19+ hours, I had been so looking forward to pressing the “Stop” button this one time. It read 19 hours, 8 minutes, 13.20 seconds. I was completely spent but never felt happier at the end of a race. Michelle had paced through the challenging last 10 miles in 1:56. When a friendly Vermont volunteer offered up a seat I wanted to hug him but didn’t have the balance. We watched some of the folks we’d just met out on the trail finish for some fifteen minutes then went into the barn for warmth and a tasty local brew. Within an hour of finishing Michelle, Peter and I headed back the 22 miles to the hotel. In the van Michelle presented me with a birthday bag stuffed with Vermont deck of cards, syrup, frig magnet and pancake mix. What a picture postcard perfect day in Vermont!

At noon on Sunday the post race brunch featured picnic style barbequed chicken and fixings down at the barn of Smoke Rise Farm. Participants were announced and marched up (umm, limped up) to receive awards based upon the hour they finished in. Pictures were taken among the applause. The last runner who beat the 30 hour limit was given an extra award for “Enjoying the Vermont scenery the most”. My surprise was yet to come. When they called up the 19-hour finishers they presented me with a special award as the fasted runner who didn’t break into the overall -nor- age group awards. I’ll cherish my special “Vermont 100” denim shirt always!

I came to Vermont in great running shape with the goal of breaking 22 hours -or- finishing around 20 hours if the planets were aligned. My finishing time and place (13th) pleasantly shocked me. Thanks again Michelle & Peter. What a fast, beautiful, friendly totally Vermont race! You can visit their website at: www.vermont100.com
Although these changes have come, long may you run. - Bill

...copyright 2001, Bill Thom

Vermont 100 Mile Endurance Run Results

Posted Wednesday, July 25, 2001 by: mark
Stay tuned for Bill's Vermont 100 report!

POS ElapsedTime Pace Age Sex Group Bib # Name
1 15:53:34 09:32 44 M D 102 Hildebrand, Joe (IL)
2 16:42:52 10:02 42 M D 137 Lewis, Barry (PA)
3 17:03:37 10:14 37 M C 70 Ferguson, Stan (AR)
4 17:12:15 10:19 42 M D 79 Geesler, John (NY)
5 17:20:46 10:24 41 M D 111 Hoyer, Russ (NY)
6 17:41:05 10:37 44 M D 134 Lepp, Harry (CT)
7 17:58:03 10:47 40 M D 170 Merrow, Chip (NH)
8 18:23:56 11:02 31 M C 235 Shea, Timothy (VT)
9 18:23:57 11:02 37 M C 218 Roy, Timothy (NH)
10 18:56:30 11:22 48 M D 206 Richards, Herman (NJ)
11 19:03:14 11:26 54 M E 249 Swenson, Ralph (VT)
12 19:08:06 11:29 34 F L 162 MCCURTIN, ELLEN, (CT)

13 19:08:18 11:29 40 M D 254 Thom, Bill (IL)

14 19:08:39 11:29 29 F K 39 CONTE, FRANCESCA (VA)
15 19:10:38 11:30 24 M B 89 Grossman, Zachary (NY)
16 19:14:23 11:33 35 F L 4 ANDERSON, JANICE (GA)
17 19:14:52 11:33 40 M D 149 Mahon, Dave (MA)
18 19:21:56 11:37 46 M D 236 Sherman, Stu (CA)
19 19:26:59 11:40 37 M C 90 Guerrero, Luis (MEX)
20 19:40:26 11:48 46 M D 103 Hinte, Jeff (MD)
21 20:01:53 12:01 40 F M 41 COSGROVE, CHRISTY (MA)
22 20:16:17 12:10 39 M C 270 White, Linwood (ME)
23 20:17:07 12:10 51 M E 32 Campiformio, Jim (CT)
24 20:26:20 12:16 34 F L 226 SCHOLZ, MONICA (CAN)
25 20:30:19 12:18 34 M C 251 Takahashi, Kaoru (NY)
26 20:35:00 12:21 49 M D 211 Roberts, Seth (MA)
27 20:37:31 12:23 47 M D 54 Dickerson, Steve (NY)
28 20:47:54 12:29 42 M D 47 Davenport, Michael (IL)
29 20:47:55 12:29 45 M D 273 Wilkey, William (WI)
30 20:47:56 12:29 45 M D 264 Walsh, Jim (VT)
31 20:50:38 12:30 36 M C 59 Dove, John (GA)
32 20:54:53 12:33 34 F L 224 SCHANKLIESS, LYNN (CA)
33 20:55:55 12:34 43 M D 229 Schulz Jr., Robert E. (NY)
34 21:04:55 12:39 41 M D 228 Schuler, Richard (NJ)
35 21:20:00 12:48 42 M D 223 Sayres, Kevin (MD)
36 21:38:28 12:59 33 M C 62 Eaton, Mark (MA)
37 21:49:15 13:06 56 M E 73 Freese, Dou (NY)
38 21:54:01 13:08 50 M E 169 Menovich, Michael (MA)
39 21:54:21 13:09 40 M D 26 Brown, Joe (NY)
40 21:57:11 13:10 52 M E 275 Wilson, Craig R. (ME)
41 22:06:24 13:16 59 M E 243 Sprouse, Tom (VA)
42 22:12:16 13:19 54 M E 42 Coyne, Bob (MD)
43 22:12:17 13:19 54 M E 153 Marroquin Sr., Joseph (PA)
44 22:12:44 13:20 53 M E 43 Crawford, Jim (GA)
45 22:12:46 13:20 41 M D 65 Erickson, Mike (MD)
46 22:14:46 13:21 51 M E 78 Geesler, Don (NY)
47 22:14:48 13:21 32 F L 60 DULIN, COLLEEN (VA)
48 22:22:25 13:25 46 M D 184 Oberkehr, Bob (NJ)
49 22:22:31 13:26 52 M E 167 McKeown, Grant (NY)
50 22:24:32 13:27 53 M E 35 Caserta, John (MI)
51 22:25:42 13:27 46 F M 76 FRYE-KRIER, BARBARA (FL)
52 22:26:48 13:28 62 M F 13 Boyd, Bruce (CT)
53 22:30:12 13:30 46 F M 255 TIBBETTS, CATHY (NM)
54 22:30:49 13:30 43 M D 163 McDonnell, Danny (MD)
55 22:33:12 13:32 26 M B 15 Bennett, Peter (TX)
56 22:34:38 13:33 52 M E 97 Hayes, Joe (VT)
57 22:34:47 13:33 59 M E 269 Werth, Dennis (CO)
58 22:35:03 13:33 54 M E 186 Pallazzo, Nicholas (NY)
59 22:35:53 13:34 44 M D 156 Martell, Gregg (WY)
60 22:38:03 13:35 39 M C 7 Apple, Rob (TN)
61 22:40:34 13:36 43 M D 215 Ross, Ron (OH)
62 22:43:38 13:38 50 M E 200 Raczkowski, David (CT)
63 22:47:45 13:41 51 M E 139 Lisey, Robert (OH)
64 22:52:03 13:43 37 M C 108 Homenick, Richard (NY)
65 22:54:47 13:45 51 M E 128 Ladieu, Bill (PA)
66 22:55:34 13:45 44 F M 241 SORRELL, BARBARA (NY)
67 22:55:37 13:45 38 M C 248 Swendsen, Vincent (NC)
68 22:56:06 13:46 40 M D 56 Dicresce, Paul (NY)
69 22:56:51 13:46 36 F L 27 BUCKINGHAM, SUE (VT)
70 22:57:48 13:47 43 M D 136 Lewey, Newell (ME)
71 22:59:34 13:48 47 M D 239 Smith, Tony (NC)
72 23:00:30 13:48 37 M C 212 Rodriguez, Johnny (NJ)
73 23:04:32 13:51 45 M D 183 Nowakowski, Stan (MN)
74 23:08:42 13:53 27 M B 140 Loomis, Greg (VA)
75 23:08:43 13:53 32 M C 117 Karch, Mike (MD)
76 23:08:53 13:53 39 M C 158 Mathews, Andy (FL)
77 23:09:02 13:53 47 M D 182 Nowakowski, Joe (CA)
78 23:11:18 13:55 51 F N 240 SORENSON, LORRAINE (CA)
79 23:14:33 13:57 43 F M 38 CONOVER, LISA (WI)
80 23:14:34 13:57 52 M E 123 Keough, Bobby (NM)
81 23:22:27 14:01 37 M C 209 Robert, Al (MA)
82 23:23:28 14:02 49 M D 40 Corbitt, Jim (VA)
83 23:24:06 14:02 38 M C 66 Evans, Alan (NY)
84 23:25:09 14:03 35 M C 190 Pence, Eric (CO)
85 23:30:14 14:06 60 M F 172 Mitchell, Stephen (NY)
86 23:30:15 14:06 37 M C 20 Bobrow, Ben (NV)
87 23:32:36 14:08 51 M E 276 Wood, John (FL)
88 23:42:09 14:13 54 M E 242 Sperling, James (MI)
89 23:48:01 14:17 48 M D 188 Pati DDS, John (NY)
90 23:55:43 14:21 43 M D 77 Gatens, Gene (NJ)
91 23:55:46 14:21 36 M C 75 Frey, Christopher (NJ)
92 24:04:51 14:27 39 F L 179 NGUYEN, YEN (TX)
93 24:11:55 14:31 41 F M 230 SCWARTZ, MAURA (MN)
94 24:11:57 14:31 35 M C 141 Lopez, Jess (PR)
95 24:12:59 14:32 46 M D 196 Pobgee, Doug (PA)
96 24:29:39 14:42 41 M D 21 Boutilier, Steve (MD)
97 24:29:52 14:42 33 M C 44 Crissman, Charles (WA)
98 24:29:53 14:42 41 M D 147 MacKenzie, Darrin (VT)
99 24:39:45 14:48 37 M C 260 Twidwell, Kevin, (WA)
100 24:44:33 14:51 44 M D 257 Tobin, Michael (NY)
101 24:48:23 14:53 49 M D 262 Vinci, Paul (MA)
102 24:48:35 14:53 39 M C 271 Whitemiller, Michael (CA)
103 24:53:08 14:56 40 M D 3 Ammann, Paul (VA)
104 25:13:01 15:08 44 F M 19 BLAIS, VICKI (MA)
105 25:22:34 15:14 36 F L 99 HEEB, MICHAELA (MA)
105 25:22:34 15:14 44 F M 124 KESSLER, RUTH (MA)
107 25:26:57 15:16 54 M E 112 Hubbard, Kenneth (VA)
108 25:35:30 15:21 48 M D 197 Poliquin, Joseph (NY)
109 25:37:35 15:23 57 M E 143 Lovell, Larry (VA)
110 25:40:26 15:24 47 M D 159 Mazur, Tony (MI)
111 25:40:27 15:24 51 M E 46 Danecki, Will (CT)
112 25:46:50 15:28 54 M E 1 Ackerman, Roger (GA)
113 25:46:51 15:28 51 M E 171 Michael, Steve (GA)
114 25:52:04 15:31 52 M E 245 Stodghill, Mark (MN)
115 25:53:03 15:32 49 M D 185 Oliveras, Juan (NY)
116 25:53:07 15:32 56 M E 87 Grossi, Tom (CA)
117 25:54:11 15:33 37 F L 88 GROSSMAN, JOY (VT)
118 26:04:07 15:38 56 M E 105 Hogan, Rick (MA)
119 26:11:15 15:43 41 M D 18 Blaiklock, Bill (VT)
120 26:19:05 15:47 58 F N 220 RUSIN, ROSEMARY (VT)
121 26:21:01 15:49 44 F M 100 HEISHMAN, JEAN (VA)
122 26:21:02 15:49 39 F L 24 BROADUS, KATHY (VA)
123 26:23:34 15:50 50 M E 263 Voltaggio, Sam (TX)
124 26:25:35 15:51 63 M F 166 McKee, Jim (NY)
125 26:31:56 15:55 67 M F 51 Devlin, Vincent (AZ)
126 26:43:21 16:02 59 M E 95 Haviland, Michael (CA)
127 26:49:07 16:05 40 M D 278 Zobel, John (WA)
128 26:52:25 16:07 54 F N 130 LAPLANT, CAROL (CA)
129 26:58:07 16:11 47 M D 232 Scott, Robert (CT)
130 26:58:14 16:11 69 M F 84 Goldman, Aaron (NM)
131 27:03:26 16:14 60 M F 191 Petersen, Chuck (NC)
132 27:11:04 16:19 48 F M 222 SALDICK, BARBARA (NY)
133 27:11:10 16:19 47 M D 237 Slepian, Neil (NH)
134 27:12:17 16:19 67 M F 50 Demoney, Edwin (VA)
135 27:14:55 16:21 37 M C 57 Dominie, Dan (NY)
136 27:20:55 16:25 23 F K 154 MARSHALL, AMBER (VA)
137 27:20:56 16:25 45 M D 155 Marshall, Roy (VA)
138 27:20:59 16:25 38 F L 164 MCFADDEN, LINDA (CA)
139 27:22:11 16:25 44 M D 52 Dickens, Bill (FL)
140 27:22:12 16:25 54 M E 253 Taylor, Greg (NY)
141 27:22:17 16:25 48 F M 192 PEZZUTO, CAROL (MA)
142 27:22:34 16:26 55 M E 176 Mount, Ray (MA)
143 27:24:21 16:27 57 M E 67 Falk, Bob (NY)
144 27:26:13 16:28 39 M C 145 Lundell, Don (CA)
145 27:30:54 16:31 37 M C 14 Bello, Lou (MN)
146 27:30:55 16:31 52 M E 247 Suomela, Peter (CAN)
146 27:30:55 16:31 49 M D 267 Weigt, Tom (MN)
148 27:31:05 16:31 53 M E 49 Davis III, Frederick F.(OH)
149 27:31:54 16:31 55 M E 25 Brooks, Mike (ME)
150 27:32:28 16:31 59 M E 138 Linzbichler, Helmut (Austria)
151 27:33:39 16:32 48 F M 12 BELILGNE, ADMAS (NY)
152 27:36:06 16:34 36 M C 238 Smith, Sean (NH)
153 27:38:05 16:35 44 M D 28 Burnett, Rick (MD)
153 27:38:05 16:35 54 M E 173 Miville, Ed (NH)
155 27:48:48 16:41 71 M G 31 Busa, Richard (MA)
156 28:01:39 16:49 36 F L 132 LEBER, CELIA (ME)
157 28:01:46 16:49 42 M D 152 Marinsik, Dan (CA)
158 28:02:40 16:50 45 F M 214 ROHRS, MAUREEN (MD)
159 28:02:41 16:50 39 F L 244 STEFANACCI, ELLEN (NJ)
160 28:10:37 16:54 50 M E 37 Clark, Donald (MN)
161 28:10:38 16:54 47 M D 198 Prohira, John (NY)
162 28:11:06 16:55 44 F M 261 VINCENT, JANET (VA)
163 28:16:36 16:58 52 M E 194 Piplani, Paul (AZ)
164 28:19:09 16:59 32 F L 36 CLAIRE-ZIMMET, KAREN (MS)
165 28:22:54 17:02 47 M D 148 MacMillan, Frank (MD)
166 28:30:03 17:06 45 F M 93 HARRINGTON, ELSIE (MI)
167 28:30:04 17:06 55 F N 150 MALMBERG, HELEN (CAN)
168 28:44:22 17:15 53 M E 116 Kacen, Bruce (NY)
169 28:48:08 17:17 61 M F 219 Royle, Austin (VT)
170 28:50:11 17:18 64 M F 2 Adolf, Don (TX)
171 28:50:12 17:18 58 M E 144 Lugiano, Joe (NC)
171 28:50:12 17:18 37 M C 151 Mantis, Vasilios (IL)
173 29:08:46 17:29 42 F M 165 MCGUIRE, CATHERINE (ME)
174 29:16:45 17:34 39 M C 131 Lease, Damon (VT)