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2022 Women in Endurance Sports Awards Nominee: Amy Rusiecki

2022 Women in Endurance Sports Awards Nominee: Amy Rusiecki

Congratulations to Vermont 100 Race Director Amy Rusiecki, who is nominated for a Women of Endurance Sports Award!

Amy has committed to supporting gender equity and inclusion at our event and all of her Beast Coast Trail Running events, and we are so proud to see her hard work recognized like this!

The 2022 awards ceremony will be celebrated in person at the Outspoken Summit in Tempe, AZ, and streamed live online through the Outspoken Summit Facebook page this Sunday, November 13th, at 10am PT/1pm ET.

We also want to take this opportunity to thank each of you, everyone in our beautiful ultrarunning community, who has stepped up in their own ways to advocate for changes that promote inclusion and diversity within our events!

Outspoken Awards Nominee - Official Graphic - Amy Rusiecki

“This is how small changes happen, which can lead to bigger shifts…and it takes an amazing [community], which we are blessed to have!!!” – Amy


Amy racing
Amy racing. She is wearing a purple Inov8 tank top, black shorts, and sunglasses, and carrying a water bottle in her left hand.
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The Trails Collective Podcast – Special Guest VT100 Race Director Amy Rusiecki

The Trails Collective Podcast – Special Guest VT100 Race Director Amy Rusiecki

We’re excited to share that our rockstar race director, the one and only Amy Rusiecki, is this week’s extra special guest on The Trails Collective Podcast hosted by competitive distance runner, Ellie Pell.

Amy and Ellie dig into all things running and ultrarunning: Amy’s experience discovering the sport; strategies for training, racing, and competing; what it’s like coaching, directing races (she’s got a bunch: see Beast Coast Trail Running), and guiding blind and visually impaired athletes. They even veer into the inevitable — which trail snacks and beverages Amy loves most!

Listen below on Spotify, tune in on Apple Podcasts, or go to the platform you prefer and search for the Trails Collective Podcast.

Voices From The Collective: Amy Rusiecki



Amy (left) guiding visually impaired athlete Kyle Robidoux (center) with another guide (right) on the Vermont 100 course
Photo description: Amy (left) guiding visually impaired athlete Kyle Robidoux (center) with another guide (right) on the Vermont 100 course. Credit: Ben Kimball.
Amy speaking to the crowd at the Vermont 100 Pre-Race Meeting with a Vermont Adaptive banner hanging behind her.
Photo description: Amy speaking to the crowd at the Vermont 100 Pre-Race Meeting with a Vermont Adaptive banner hanging behind her.
Amy with her arms up greeting two runners as they cross the Vermont 100 Endurance Race Finish Line
Photo description: Amy with her arms up greeting two runners as they cross the Vermont 100 Endurance Race Finish Line
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No Barriers Podcast – The Ultra Barrier Breaker

No Barriers Podcast – The Ultra Barrier Breaker

We’re proud to share that our Race Director, Amy Rusiecki, recently joined the No Barriers Podcast for a gripping conversation with blind adventure athlete Erik Weihenmayer.

Amy's official No Barriers Podcast graphic featuring her running and the title "The Ultra Barrier Breaker"

Erik was the first blind person to climb Mount Everest in 2001. He’s since ascended the tallest peak on every continent, climbed El Cap in under 24 hours, kayaked the Grand Canyon, authored three books, spoken to students and businesses nationwide, and led expeditions around the world for those living with seen and unseen disabilities as part of his non-profit, No Barriers.

Amy joins Erik’s show to talk about the complexities of ultrarunning, her role as an athlete, guide, coach, and race director, and the ways in which she tries to expand accessibility and address inclusion issues in our sport. Erik is curious about what goes on in our heads as ultrarunners, what it really takes to tackle 100 miles as an athlete with a disability, and asks Amy what she hopes racing will look like in the years to come.

Amy assists and AWD onto the main stage to speak at the opening ceremonies for the VT100

While Amy has helped our race create divisions for both athletes with disabilities and nonbinary runners, led discussions with other race directors about how to better manage gender equality, and deepened our fundraising commitment to Vermont Adaptive—she says there is still plenty of work left to do.

Amy guiding a visually impaired runner during the Vermont 100

Tune in, and please email us at if you have ideas on how our event (and others) can continue to break barriers and close gaps. We strongly believe that the trails are a place for everyone and we continuously strive to make our runner, volunteer, sponsorship, and fundraising opportunities as accessible and appealing to people from all backgrounds and identities.

Amy’s episode (no. 126) is available here on the No Barriers Podcast showpage as well everywhere you get your podcasts, like Spotify and Apple Podcasts. Enjoy, and thanks for listening!

Amy greeting in two runners at the finish line of the Vermont 100, a tradition of hers

Images courtesy of No Barriers, Ben Kimball, Peter Maksimow, and Bruno Hamann.

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My Journey to 100 Miles – What Vermont 100 Means to Me

My Journey to 100 Miles – What Vermont 100 Means to Me

Justin Hetherington didn’t grow up feeling athletic. In a lot of ways, he felt like an outsider. That was, until he found running and ultra running — and through both, confidence, passion, and profound gratitude.

The 2020 Vermont 100 will be Justin’s first 100 mile ultra race and in this post, he tells us what brought him to “our” sport, what he appreciates about this community, and what he hopes to learn (and earn!) in July.

Justin, thank you for sharing what the Vermont 100 means to you! We can’t wait to cheer you on.

My Journey to 100 Miles – What Vermont 100 Means to Me

“Hello! My name is Justin Hetherington. It was only a short number of years ago that I got into running. Back then, by any definition (nutrition, exercise, mindset, you name it), I was not only a non-athlete but very unhealthy. Loved the #1 / Big Mac combo and had a dangerous desire for buffalo chicken calzones. Fast forward to this July 2020, and I will be participating in my first 100 mile race, the Vermont1 100…. what?!

Wild to think about but truly believe anyone is capable of completing a 100 mile foot race.

Growing up I was Steve Urkel (link opens new window) from the show Family Matters. I loved ironing my clothes, tucking my pants in, wore huge eyeglasses, and was severely asthmatic. Remember when you had to run the 1 mile in school? That was me who didn’t have to run it and instead passed out the popsicle sticks to each student as they each completed a track lap (4 sticks = 1 mile). Needless to say, I never thought of myself as an athlete nor had a desire to be one.

Now, in 2020, after many years of self-doubt and overcoming being overly self-conscious about a variety of things, I came to understand the difference between being athletic and being an athlete. Certain individuals are undoubtedly born with traits that define them as athletic but being an athlete is all about mindset. In any physical activity, if you mindfully prepare, execute, and recover, then you are an athlete. You do not need to look a certain way or have this certain smooth slickness like the athletes I grew up seeing on Nike television commercials or the jocks in high school. My competitive nature loves the saying that hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.


Justin with his Dead Horse finisher medal
Justin, selfie, with his Dead Horse finisher medal.

I am admittedly not steeped in the ultra running community as I ran my first 50k less than two years ago in April of 2018 and I didn’t immediately fall in love afterwards. However I did enjoy the experience and fellow runners I met which made me want to pursue this crazy sport further. As I went down this path by running a few 50k and 50m races it was clear why I love this sport, why I am pursuing my first 100 miler, and why it will forever be a part of my life.

Here are just a few reasons!

  1. It is unconventional – I have always viewed my life trajectory as unconventional being raised by a single mom with three siblings and moving homes quite often. The endurance running community has many (maybe even a majority) of athletes coming from especially non-linear / unconventional backgrounds and that makes me feel at home. Not that I don’t like you elite runners with the cross country backgrounds… haha.
  2. Exposure to nature – I tell people trail running is like hiking on steroids. I have always loved nature and this sport is an opportunity to get outside in nature, explore new places, and wander like a child. What is better than that?!
  3. Forces focus – Unlike running on pavement for a marathon, trail running requires you to focus on your steps, especially on single track technical terrain. As an inherent scatterbrain, this is a weird form of therapy for me and my mind thanks me afterwards.
  4. It is stressful -Stress is without a doubt problematic in our world but is also a misnomer and in the right context necessary for growth. Ultra running stresses you physically, mentally, and emotionally and checks all the boxes for my personal growth and every other facet of my life.

So put me in a crowd of unconventional athletes, in nature, focused on the trail, while being self aware of the stress test my body, mind, and emotions are about to endure, and I’ll say how did I get so lucky to be in this rarified space and how can I spread more awareness of how amazing it is?!

I am beyond grateful that I have found this high vibe sport and I chose the Vermont 100 for my first 100 miler for it’s prestige and history in the United States. And although the cynical part of me thinks that is cliche and cheesy (like I should have chosen some fringe 100 mile race to be “cool”), I am genuinely excited for this race and have already spoken with and met wonderful people as a result!”

A bit more about Justin

An East Greenwich native, Justin Hetherington is a real estate investor and broker in the Greater Providence Rhode Island area. He graduated Magna Cum Laude with a BS in finance from The University of Rhode Island. Justin resides with his wife Nicole and their shetland sheepdog in their newly built West End Providence home that Nicole designed as an architect.


Justin and his wife Nicole, with their shetland sheepdog
Justin and his wife Nicole, with their shetland sheepdog.

Share your story

Do you have an experience related to racing, pacing, crewing or volunteering for the Vermont 100? Reach out and tell us. We’ll share as many as we can.

Prepare for the Vermont 100

Head over to the Vermont 100 FAQs. This page is chock full of additional info about weekend schedule, lodging, the course, aid stations, drop bags, crews and pacers rules, and much more.

Get strong for the Vermont 100

Check out Race Direct Amy Rusiecki’s post, The Importance of Strength Training.

Can’t run, crew, volunteer, or otherwise participate in the Vermont 100?

Consider a donation to our race beneficiary, Vermont Adaptive. Give now. Any gift of any amount helps. Every penny empowers people of all abilities through year-round inclusive sports and recreational programming, regardless of their ability to pay. To us, the Vermont 100 is more than a race. It’s an opportunity to give back. It’s a chance to make a difference.

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Guiding for a Day — Reflections from the USABA Ski Festival with Vermont Adaptive!

Guiding for a Day — Reflections from the USABA Ski Festival with Vermont Adaptive!

Kevin Draper is a member of Team Run 2 Empower who recently he donated his time to help guide blind and visually impaired athletes at the 13th Annual Winter Ski Festival hosted by the United States Association of Blind Athletes (USABA). This event, in partnership with our race beneficiary Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sports, offers skiers and snowboarders who are blind or visually impaired the opportunity to come together to participate in alpine skiing, nordic skiing, and snowshoeing. Kevin was kind enough to share his reflections on the experience, and we hope you’ll enjoy his words as much we did.

Thank you, Kevin! What a wonderful way to give back and find deeper meaning in why you’re committed to fundraising for Vermont Adaptive.

Guiding for a Day — Reflections from the USABA Ski Festival with Vermont Adaptive!


A visually impaired snowboarder works with two Vermont Adaptive guides at the 13th Annual USABA / Vermont Adaptive Ski Festival Weekend
A visually impaired snowboarder works with two Vermont Adaptive guides at the 13th Annual USABA / Vermont Adaptive Ski Festival Weekend

“The conditions were perfect that crisp Sunday morning at Pico Mountain, in Killington, Vermont. Vermont Adaptive Athletes and crew were taking part in various winter activities at the USABA Ski Festival. What they didn’t realize was that this was a special day, where some of the volunteers helping out, were also part of a group of VT100 fundraisers from Team Run 2 Empower.

This was my second year helping out Vermont Adaptive and it’s such a joy for me to witness the enthusiasm and confidence the athletes gain from getting outside and doing what they love. I’ve been a skier my entire life, so guiding blind athletes who enjoy skiing as much as I do is right up my alley!


Vin Framularo – Snowboarding Guide and Fellow Team Run 2 Empower Member

My role this year was similar to do what I did last year, be a guide in front or behind the VASS athlete. This may look like an easy task, but I assure you, it’s pretty complex.  You are there to help the athletes on and off the chair lift so timing and communication is critical. While on the chairlift, you discuss the different trail options, i.e., green circles to blue squares to black diamonds. You also review different ski styles, like quick sharp carving turns or more pronounced longer turns.

A visually impaired skiers works with two Vermont Adaptive guides at the 13th Annual USABA / Vermont Adaptive Ski Festival Weekend
A visually impaired skiers works with two Vermont Adaptive guides at the 13th Annual USABA / Vermont Adaptive Ski Festival Weekend

What has been terrific for me to experience is the self-assurance built within the athletes as the day progressed. Athletes gain trust in you as a guide and they may decide to push the envelope a bit and go to the top of Pico or take a run on a trail they once considered over their head. Funny enough, last year the woman I was guiding told me that my skiing improved as the lead guide, which made me laugh. I guess I became more confident in my guiding abilities too!

A blind skier faces down slope while carving a turn at the USABA / Vermont Adaptive 13th Annual Ski Festival Weekend in Vermont
A blind skier faces down slope while carving a turn at the USABA / Vermont Adaptive 13th Annual Ski Festival Weekend in Vermont

To realize I had a small part in people’s lives brings it way beyond the fundraising for me. I would help out at Vermont Adaptive every single day if I could but I’ve got to (gulp) begin training for the Vermont 100!”

A bit more about Kevin Draper

Kevin lives in Massachusetts with his wife, two daughters, and their dog, Murphy, who loves trail running as much as Kevin does. Kevin and his family enjoy skiing and being outside as much as possible, and this will be Kevin’s third year on Team Run 2 Empower. Be sure to say hi to him at the VT100 this summer.


Learn more about Team Run 2 Empower & Vermont Adaptive

Visit our fundraising page to get the full scoop on the cause, the impact, and how to get involved in fundraising for Vermont Adaptive through the Vermont 100 — or simply donate today.


And who doesn’t love pups?!

Your treat for reading right to the end of the post 🙂


A couple “guide” puppies amidst the boot room chaos.
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Riding Along – What Vermont 100 Means to Me

Riding Along – What Vermont 100 Means to Me

Nancy Zukewich and her daughter rode the 2019 Vermont 100 on horseback, and we’re thrilled she decided to share what this experience, and all those that preceded it, meant to her. What a fantastic story, and we can’t wait to have these folks back to the 2020 Vermont 100 Endurance Ride!

Riding Along – What the Vermont 100 Means to Me

I fell in love with Vermont from the minute I met her. As my rig slowly made its way up Silver Hill Road, I marveled at her beauty. We were driving in a fairy forest, through a tunnel of trees, green leaves speckled with sunlight. Wow, we get to ride in this magical place!

This was in 2011 and coming from flat land in Ontario, Canada, we entered the Moonlight 50. Though we didn’t start until 2:30 in the afternoon, we soaked up the magic of all the runners and horses leaving in the dark, wee hours of the morning.

It was hard to keep our horses under wraps early in the ride. Lucky for me, Dr. Art King introduced me to a Canadian turned Vermonter – Cathy Turcotte. Our paths crossed mid-ride on a big climb. My mare wanted to power trot up the long hill, but Cathy cautioned us to conserve energy, because there were more hills to come. More than I could have possibly imagined!

Finishing the ride in the dark, along with other 50, 75 and 100-mile horses and ultrarunners was a big thrill. Vermont had me under her spell.

From Humble Roots to the Hundred Mile Finish

The first 100-mile completion for me and my mare, Luba, came in Vermont in 2014. We knew what we were getting into and paced well all day. And at the first vet check, a lady handed me my ride card with a Canadian flag drawn on it. It was Cathy! It felt like coming home. I will never forget how wonderful it was to arrive at the finish, the trail lined on either side by crowds of cheering people.  This was our third attempt at a 100-mile ride. Third time’s a charm!

Cheering people are one of the best things about the Vermont ride. There is such an amazing atmosphere with so many horse and human athletes in top form and ready to toe the line for the ultimate adventure – miles and miles on the green roads and trails of beautiful Vermont. You almost always have company on trail, be it horse or human. Luba loved the company of runners as much as more as that of other horses. This is a great event to try longer distances – 75 or 100 miles – as you and your horse are buoyed by the energy of all the other runners, riders, aide stations, and cheering people lining the roads.

And not only do people in Vermont cheer for you, they are of gracious and generous of spirit. Krista and Guy Alderdice let us stay at their farm before and after the ride. And when my truck with the slide-in camper died at the last vet check, Liz and Bernadette Brown offered to crew me through the rest of the ride. One of the emergency trailer volunteers left her horse trailer at my campsite so we had somewhere to sleep. And Cathy let us borrow her truck and actually figured out what was wrong with mine! I felt like I was at home with kindred spirits.

A Very Special 2019 – Riding with My Daughter

Fast forward a few years, and Luba and I are back in Vermont in 2019, this time with my teenaged daughter, Charlotte and her gelding, Sabr. Charlotte also experienced Vermont love at first sight at the GMHA Spring Endurance ride. And she got to ride with Melody Blittersdorf and Laura Farrell!


We came back in July to ride the VT100. It is every endurance-riding mother’s dream to share trail with your daughter, especially on a 100-mile ride. It was hot and humid and we chased cut-offs all day long. Although Sabr was pulled at mile 88 for lameness, Vermont taught Charlotte perspective. When they saw the treatment vet back at camp in the middle of the night, the vet said how sorry she was that they did not complete. Charlotte replied that this was a personal best for both her and Sabr. They had never gone 88 miles before!

Luba and I went on to finish the 100 and earned a heritage buckle donated by Steve Rojeck. One of my friends commented that the buckle artwork looked like a mother and daughter riding together.

Vermont Feels Like Family

Charlotte and I will be back this summer to share trail with so many amazing and inspiring humans and horses, hoping for another personal best!


A bit more about Nancy Zukewich

Nancy lives in Ottawa, Ontario. She and Luba earned their AERC Decade Team Award in 2018. She also practices and teaches yoga. You can follow her journey at Gray Horse Yoga.

Want to learn more about riding the Vermont 100?

Visit the Vermont 100 Endurance Ride website.

Want to learn more about the Vermont 100 ride’s history?

Visit our Vermont 100 History page, complete with timeline and information about our race leadership.

Feature Image Credit: Ben Kimball Race Photography
In-Post Image Credits: Deanna Ramsay

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Margaret Smith, Finn Schneider – 2020 VT100 Post-Lottery Contest Winners

Margaret Smith, Finn Schneider – 2020 VT100 Post-Lottery Contest Winners

This was the second year that the VT100 held a lottery for general registration, and we were astonished by the record number of names in the hat. The 100 mile race had 439 athletes vying for 279 spots and the 100 km race had 180 athletes contending for 71 spots.

On the one hand, it was wonderful to see so many people interested in our event, but on the other, sadly, it also meant we had to place a record number of unlucky applicants on a waitlist that piled up quick — and with it, so did the post-lottery emails that followed.

Our RD’s inbox got flooded with folks asking us if there was any other way they could get into the race. So she thought, let’s meet that need. Let’s give people the formal opportunity to submit their story, to tell us why they deserve to “jump” the waitlist and get a spot.

What would be special about their participation in 2020 Vermont 100? 

This resulted in over a dozen submissions. Each was unique, sincere, and compelling. Runners opened up to us, and it proved a challenging process for our panel to boil down the contents and pick a single winner — so much so that we ultimately deadlocked on two runners who simply touched our hearts and instantly and equally made us want to cheer for their success.

The winners

We are proud and excited to announce that Margaret Smith (100m) and Finn Schneider (100km) will each now have the good fortune of a guaranteed space at the 2020 Vermont 100 start line. Congratulations, Margaret and Finn!

Read / watch their submissions, shared below:

Margaret Smith – Written Submission

“Hi Amazing Humans!

Below is why I want to run VT100 this summer. Thanks for reading 🙂

The last thing Blair texted me was, “Two miles to go, Mags. Congrats, 3:36.”

I was one of those obnoxious people who brings their cell phone with them to run Boston last year. Blair was in the infusion lab at Dana Farber “watching the elite women and waiting” for me to start. I sent a few photos during the race and Blair sent a few “Go, Mags, go!” texts along with the last one I got from her.

Less than a month later, Blair passed and I lost a dear friend, mentor, and fellow running enthusiast. As someone who’s life has been profoundly altered by breast cancer, losing Blair hit me hard. I lost my aunt years ago to the disease and my mother is currently battling her third bout of metastatic breast cancer at Dartmouth Hitchcock. I hate the disease and have, myself, taken the preventive measures of having a bilateral mastectomy and total hysterectomy based on inheriting the BRCA 2 genetic mutation from my mother, to lower my chances on developing breast and/or ovarian cancer in the future.

Signing up for VT100 was emotional. This was supposed to be our year. Since running the 100K in 2015, Blair (who lived in Meredith, NH) was eager to crew me for the 100 Miler. We’d talked about it for a long time – I’m in the Army so twice, it conflicted with training schedules and other commitments. Now I wish I had just pushed harder to get leave. This year, 2020, was when we could both be there in mid-July and I could run and Blair could do what Blair did best: cheer, take care of me, and tell me to stop whining.

I met Blair in 2009 at a running group in DC. She was roughly 15 years my senior but we hit it off in a big sister – kid sister kind of way. Being in the military meant I bounced around and failed to plant roots in any one location. It also meant that my parents were always far away. Blair filled that void too – for me and my daughter. She was present and loved doting on Emily when I had things to do. Ultimately, she was exactly what I needed – the friend I needed, the mentor I needed, the parent I needed at a pretty difficult time in my own life (when I underwent my own surgeries and, thankfully, got sober).

Blair’s health declined quickly last April and before I could make it to NH to see her, she passed. I’m devastated and miss her everyday. I signed up for VT100 as a solo runner because Blair’s not here. I also know it is a way for me to honor our friendship – we were supposed to do this adventure together. We still will – 100 solo miles is my time to think and consider just how important Blair was to my life thus far. I can be present with my memories of her. It will also be a time – a time that I’ve set apart and dedicated – that I can really dig deep and feel all the feels I want to without judgement. I mean who questions a fellow runner’s emotions during a long race?!? No one!

So, come July, I hope to slog through 100 miles of gorgeous Vermont countryside thinking about Blair. Bitching to her when I feel like crap, laughing with her when I feel joy, and letting myself feel pain of her loss as I also feel the gift of her spirit. I am one lucky gal to have had Blair in my life.

Thanks for “listening” to my story. Below is when Blair and I first became pals. Blair is #658 on the left and I’m next to her (#712). Gosh I miss her!



Finn Schneider – Video Submission

“Hello members of the race committee,

I’m sending this video along for your viewing pleasure. Thanks in advance for considering my request to get off the 100k waitlist and onto the start list.


finn j. schneider”


*Photography Credits

Margaret: Paul Encarnación (his IG is @paulenki)

Finn: Paul Nelson Photography

*Note: Photos have been compressed and do not represent the quality of the photographers original work. Please visit their linked website and Instagram accounts, or visit and like our social media channels to enjoy the hi-res versions. Thank you!

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“It isn’t about running” – What the Vermont 100 Means to Me

“It isn’t about running” – What the Vermont 100 Means to Me

Erika Stillson is a constant light at the Vermont 100, volunteering endless hours to make sure that all of our aid stations are fully stocked day and night. She also happens to live at “Bills,” the family farm our runners pass through at ~ mile 51 and 89 of our 100k and 100m events. Erika, along with her dad, Bill, and countless others, are what make the Vermont 100 pure magic, and we thank her for sharing her story below. We hope you love it as much as we do!

Family. Community. Volunteering. Summer.

“The other day I received a note asking me if I’d write a little post about what the Vermont 100 means to me, so I sat down and thought about it. After working with this event in one form or another for the past 31 years, it occurred to me that I really know relatively few athletes in the event. Interesting, because without a doubt, when someone says ‘What is the Vermont 100?’ the first thought is of an amazing feat by elite athletes to support opportunities for other equally amazing athletes.

But what is the Vermont 100 to me? Well, it isn’t about running.

Please don’t misunderstand me, I do not mean to diminish in any way the journey or successes of these awe-inspiring runners, horses and riders, it’s just that my Vermont 100 isn’t about a race at all. It’s about a group of like-minded individuals getting together, stringing 980 chemlights, then finding other people to hang said chemlights throughout the last 45 miles of the course on a Saturday evening in mid July, rain or shine, road or trail. It’s about a small town (my small town) opening its arms to hundreds of people, showing them just what a little community can do. It’s everyone I can think of crazy enough to turn on their ovens to bake a couple hundred pounds of potatoes or 72 dozen chocolate chip cookies in the summer heat. Or, going way back, mac and cheese and brownies for the pre-race dinner on Friday night. It’s getting up at 4am on Saturday and not going to sleep again until Sunday night.

My Vermont 100 is driving around the back roads with my dad towing us on the bed of an old horse trailer, picking up aid stations and unmarking the course. It’s driving almost all 100 miles in ‘Old Blue,’ our almost-famous pickup truck that worked the first 15 or so races with us, and that old horse trailer, just ‘checking on things.’ And I know that my summer would be missing something without this event.

My Vermont 100 is hours and hours of things that no one likes to think about, that maybe no one really wants to do, but for some reason, at some point in my life seemed like a great adventure.

I worked an unmanned aid station for the first race because I realllllly wanted to do something. So, my parents let their 15-year-old daughter drive down to the aid station and hang out there by myself with a flashlight until midnight, pouring Coke into paper cups. I’ll never forget how happy those runners were to see my flashlight that night.

I moved on to the med station the next year and learned how to lance a blister, perhaps not my thing, but thanks for the knowledge. I worked volunteer parking for a handler station, I babysat Laura Farrell’s boys so she could be out working. I purchased, packed, and delivered the aid station food, took a break from that, then went back and did it again.

I’ve worked registration, the race start, and the finish line. I’ve worked aid stations, I’ve set them up and torn them down. I’ve cleaned up after the race, I’ve marked and unmarked sections of the course. I’ve learned that it’s easier to hang chemlights before it gets dark, but it’s more fun (for me, at least) to do it after.

My Vermont 100 was once heading out to find our puppy who left from our aid station with a runner before little Tuck got too tired to keep running and was lost in the woods. And now I just do a little behind the scenes organizing, and, as I like to call it ‘the fun stuff.’ And, of course, I get to help clean out our barn to make room for the aid station.

I started working on this event to be with my family.

My dad has been involved with the Vermont 100 from the very first year and I have been following his lead and have used the event for some great father-daughter time over the years (you all know Bill of Bill’s barn, am I right? I call him Dad. Great guy, am I right? I know I’m right).

And since I have started working on this event my family has grown. I am happy to count the amazing committee (past and present) that puts this all together as my family. We’ve been through thick and thin, through losses and joys and we’ve stood side by side through them all. Just like a family does.

I’ve seen members of my community stand up in meetings and speak for this race, even though they have no ties to it beyond the fact that it happens in their town. Their voices have ensured that our race keeps its home in the hills of Brownsville.

Our community supports us.

I have called on people who have no ties to running, no ties to Vermont Adaptive and they have come. They have come in droves, and they have stayed. They are the stars of my Vermont 100. You don’t know them and you don’t see them, but without them, we’d be lost.

Oh, the heat. The humidity. The thunderstorms. The microbursts.

To quote Farmer’s, ‘We know a thing or two, because we’ve seen a thing or two.’ Ain’t it the truth? The Vermont 100 will always test you, and not just you the athlete. You, the volunteer at an aid station in the blazing sun, in the pouring rain and thunderstorms, or in the dark of night. You, the restock volunteer trying to keep up with requests for ice or blankets, ramen or watermelon. You, the overnight restock crews looking out for horses in the foggy night as you drive from one station to the next with ice, blankets, and, of course, gummy bears.

My Vermont 100, I’m sure, is different from everyone else’s Vermont 100, but that’s just one more thing that makes it fun. That makes it special. That makes it mine.”

A Bit More about Erika

Erika Stillson is an avid skier, trail runner and yoga instructor.  She is thrilled to be back living on her family farm in Windsor, Vermont, where Spring finds her in the sugarhouse and Summer in the gardens.  She has a small studio at the farm, which gives her the ability to share two of her favorite things: Yoga and the peace she finds on the farm. Follow her adventures at Oxbow Farm.

Want to help?

Learn more about Volunteering at the Vermont 100.

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To Finish Is To Win, A Vermont 100 Runner Turns Rider

To Finish Is To Win, A Vermont 100 Runner Turns Rider

By Bill Rice  All Posts

Running is one of those passions that had been part of my life for a long time and so like many I wondered if there was life beyond the marathon distance.  Naturally I soon found ultra running and the unique group of individuals that comprised the sport.

2002 was the year I ran and completed the 100 and I was amazed by the experience of running with the horses.  Now horses were not unknown to me as my wife has owned them forever but I had never really paid much attention to them as riding in circles or hanging out at a barn was not my idea of fun.  At any rate there I was camping at Smoke Rise Farm and I saw all the horses and their riders also preparing for the 100.

VT100 - horse

Early the next morning to the sounds and lights of fireworks and the pianist playing we were off. It wasn’t long before we heard the call “horses coming” and all parted to the side of the road so the horses could pass.  It just seemed natural to us runners to get out of the way as no runner wanted their feet stepped on, I was surprised to learn from the riders how they thought it was wonderful we runners moved over for them.  They had no idea we were worried about being trampled.

The run was long and wonderful as 100 mile events tend to be and while not the fastest person out there by a long shot I along with three of my friends finally crossed the finish line.  Anyone who has done that can tell you it is about as close to total fulfillment as one can achieve or so I thought.  Throughout the run I kept being overtaken by the horses and wondered why they were behind me (turns out they have mandatory veterinarian checks and rest breaks) and was amazed at how easily the horses and riders seemed to have it.  Let me assure you they do not have it easy quite the opposite in fact.  Granted the physical toll on the riders is less than that of runners but the work required to get a horse ready and able to go 100 miles is difficult.

At any rate at the end of the run I told my lovely wife I wanted to learn to ride, buy a horse and do the 100 on horseback.  I suspect she and many others knew at that point I really was insane as if the ultra running wasn’t crazy enough.  The old saying “any idiot can run a marathon but it takes a special kind of idiot to run ultras” was playing in my mind and once I discovered how much work a horse was I wondered what I had gotten myself into.

I had heard that a couple of ladies had run and ridden the Vermont 100 and knew the people that had done Tevis and Western States at that time, but there didn’t appear to be any other guys who had done both at Vermont.  So I learned to ride, bought a horse then another horse (they are like running shoes you need more than one pair) and began my journey.  I had great mentors, Steve, Kathy and others who helped me learn the horse side of the equation.  The knowledge of ultra running directly correlated to endurance riding so that made it easy, it was just doing the miles on horse that took time to learn.

2004 saw us at Silver Hill the first year it was held there I think.  My horse Tashi Smar aka Summer was an experienced 100 mile equine and since I knew the course I was ready.  It was wonderful to thunder off with the other horses and to begin the chase after the runners.  I too got to watch the runners part as we rode by and since many were my friends met during previous runs the goodnatured bantering was fun.  “Get off that horse they would yell” and I would reply “no way”.

It was amazing to ride up the back of Suicide Hill or the long climbs later in the course and while I worried a lot if Summer was happy (he was) it was fun to be able to actually watch the world go by.  We cleared vet check after vet check thanks to my amazing crew and although we were in last place horse wise we were making good progress.  At mile 72 however things took a turn and my riding partner Liz dropped out and the vets were having a discussion about whether or not a newbie like me should continue. Fortunately Art, a vet, I had come to know saw me lacing up my running gear and he told the rest of the vets the horse might not get there but I would.  All was well in the world and off we went, Summer, me and all the runners.

We finally hooked up with a 64 year old trying to break 24 hours and began our dash to the finish.  That year we had to climb Blood Hill and then descend down a long shoot to the finish line in the meadow.  Summer was lit up with glow sticks as the runner (damn I wish I could remember his name) and I ran (yes I was off the horse) across the finish line.

VT's iconic neon finish - put your 100 in the books!

Once again it was a feeling that one can only experience that enveloped us.  Of course I had to vet the horse out one more time to get a completion but Summer being the pro he was took it all in stride.  We were last place but our motto “to finish is to win” sang in my ears.

There are some of you runners reading this and wondering if you can ride a 100 miles and some of you riders wondering if you can run 100 miles and I can only say is yes you can you just have to want to.

Please feel free to contact me if you have questions and join Krista, Kathy, and me (hope I didn’t forget anyone) as those who have ridden and run the magical Vermont 100.


You can reach Bill at:

More information about the Vermont Endurance Rides please visit:

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What the Vermont 100 Means to Me

What the Vermont 100 Means to Me

What the VT100 means to me….As a rider and runner

By Krista Alderdice

The VT100…I wouldn’t miss the third weekend in July for the world. My family and I have been coming to the VT 100 since 2000, and it is one of the main reasons we live where we do today.

In the early years, I was a horse girl through and through. I remember walking by the runners as I led my horse to the vetting area… in complete awe of what they were about to embark on. A hundred miles! Can people seriously run that far?

I was giddy about taking on the challenge of my first 100 alongside these crazy ultra people.

For most of the VT 100’s, I was aboard my beautiful Morgan horse, Song. I always compared him to riding on a couch, he was that comfortable. He was smooth, all business, and was a bit of an underdog, in the sense that he didn’t look the part. He was a bit portly as some would say, but he had a huge heart and I have some of my fondest memories on him at the VT100. He took care of me as I did for him, and we were a perfect team.

As a rider, you are constantly managing and worrying about your horse; are they eating, drinking, how’s their heart rate, hydration, soundness…hmmmm, I’m sure that sounds quite familiar to all you ultra runners out there. The sports are so similar, in that you can have a crew who follows you around from hold to hold or aid station to aid station (thank you… I couldn’t do my races without you, you know who you are).

The one thing the horses have to do that the runners don’t, is pass a lameness and metabolic check by a veterinarian (I was glad I didn’t have to jog for Docs after the finish of my first 100).

I’ve completed eight VT100’s on horseback, winning it back in ’04 while I was four months pregnant with my youngest son, Jase. That day was pure magic, meandering through the VT hills, cantering through the fields, and seeing my husband Guy and our two year old son, Justin, at every hold and fly-bys was so uplifting for Song and I. Brings tears to my eyes thinking back to it.

Fast forward to 2015. A terrible horse injury brings my riding career to an abrupt halt. After the horse kick left my right elbow joint a fractured mess, I underwent three surgeries in less than a year, to repair it. I also suffered from a bit of PTSD from the kick, so I was left with the question…what now, who or what am I without riding?

I had lost my mojo for riding, but needed to somehow feel that endurance flowing through my veins. I then turned to running to fulfill that fire.

Running became my savior, healing me from the inside out with every mile. It’s funny how a person can truly reinvent themselves after an unfortunate event. Running allowed me to still feel the trails, feel the wind on my face, feel the connection to nature, feel all the feels of life.

Finishing the VT100 on foot last year was one of the best feeling in the world. I toed the line with 350 incredible humans, including my wonderful husband and got to watch many of my friends on horseback fly by me at mile 8.


It certainly was not easy, there were many highs and lows throughout the day, but I tried to pull strength from the horses who so giftedly carried me eight hundred miles of the VT trails and back-roads. When my boys met me at mile 99.5, the tears were flowing big time, I can still feel the hugs on my back.

I think the VT100 is a such a special event, more than just a race.

It will teach you about yourself, humble you, make you feel invincible, humor you, make you cry, make you feel all the feels. As you run, ride, crew, volunteer or spectate, you can’t help but think of why this event was started and who the event helps Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sports are changing the lives of the folks they help, giving them hope and the gift of sports.

You ALL inspire me everyday…See you at Silver hill…

Krista xoxo

Editor’s Note:

You can follow Krista on social media by visiting

And check out her business Red Horse and Co.
She makes some pretty awesome jewelry to fuel your soul and body butter and lip balm to soothe your body.

More information about the Vermont Endurance Rides please visit:

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History Lesson-The Vermont 100 Riders and Runners Together on Trails of Vermont

History Lesson-The Vermont 100 Riders and Runners Together on Trails of Vermont

A history lesson as remembered by Steve Rojek

The Western States Trail Ride and Run (Tevis Cup)

The Western States Endurance Run was first completed in 1974 by Gordy Ainsleigh. Ainsleigh had finished the Western States Trail Ride (Tevis Cup) in 1971 and 1972 on horseback, but in 1973 his new horse was pulled with lameness at the 29-mile checkpoint. In 1974, with the inspiration and encouragement of Drucilla Barner, first woman to win the Tevis Cup and Secretary of the Western States Trail Foundation, Gordy joined the horses of the Western States Trail Ride to see if he could complete the course on foot. Twenty-three hours and forty-two minutes later Gordy arrived in Auburn, proving that a runner could, indeed, travel the 100 miles in one day.

In 1977 at the pre-ride briefing of the Tevis Cup 100 mile ride in Squaw Valley California Wendall Robie in his how it all began speech made mention of the Green Mountain Horse Association and their 100 mile event that began in 1936. This inspired a rider from the Woodstock Vermont area.

Vermont’s 100 mile Trail Ride

When Steve Rojek got back to South Woodstock he was determined to have a Tevis like ride here in Vermont. Riders Betsy Cook and Sonny Holt and Steve along with Cornell Veterinarian Dr. Steve Roberts made it happen in 1980.

Cloudland Farm location

For the first 3 years the ride was held in Pomfret at Bill Emmons’s Cloudland Farm and attracted riders like Dr Matthew MacKay Smith, Maggie Price, Valerie Kanavy, Nancy Beacon, Robin Culver (now Groves). The ride was not held for a couple years because riders were not pre-entering and the volunteer workers felt it was too much work to do not knowing if riders were going to show up.

Smoke Rise Farm location

Then in 1985,  The Rojeks hosted the ride at their Smoke Rise Farm where it was held until 2004. Endurance rider Laura Farrell from Brownsville Vermont decided to run the Human 100 mile marathon at the Old Dominion in Front Royal Virginia winning the fastest woman award. Laura was hooked and approached me with the idea of combining our Equine 100 mile event with the Human 100 mile marathon and I thought that would be great.

Laura Farrell - VT100

The year was 1988 and the event would be a benefit for the Vermont Handicapped Ski and Sports Association (now Vermont Adaptive) a very worthwhile and appropriate organization.

Gordy Ainsleigh came to Vermont to run in 1999. Tevis, Old Dominion and Vermont were three events that had horses and runners on course at the same time. Eventually The Old Dominion and the Tevis ride/run split into two separate events leaving the Vermont 100 the last and only event with horses and runners competing on the same trail.

For many years, at Smoke Rise Farm, the Rojek’s had Tuxedo clad piano player (Ed Chenoweth) playing “Chariots Of Fire” under the light of a Liberace like candelabra beginning at 4 A.M. for the start of the run and again at 5 A.M. for the start of the horse endurance ride.

There were fireworks off in the distance announcing the start of each event as well. The night before was a sit down supper in the indoor arena for participants and their crews and the volunteers. Then on Sunday the Hartland Volunteer Fire department put on a Chicken Barbecue for the same group before the completion belt buckle awards were given out.

Silver Hill (our present home)

In 2004 the ride venue was moved just up the road to Jose Bernatchez’s Silver Hill (where the race has been held since) where her big field was perfect for horse rigs and Tents. Sue and John Greenall worked so hard to put on a class act for everyone involved. Managing Volunteers and there are so many,  getting permission from so many private land owners along with hiring Veterinary judges and marking trails is a monumental task. Sue and John are unsung heroes in my book.

VT100 Horses


See you in three months!

More information about the Vermont Endurance Rides please visit:

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Ask runners about the love of their life and the chances are they will say ‘running’…. before correcting it with ‘well, after my husband / wife / boyfriend / girlfriend / significant other, of course!’ Juggling a healthy love life alongside an often-selfish running obsession can be a balancing act that requires careful navigation to ensure all parties remain happy. Ahead of Valentine’s Day 2018, we asked some of our inov-8 ambassadors for their tips on this delicate matter of the heart.

*UK ultra runner Marco Consani, whose wife Debbie shares in his passion for racing over epic distances, has the following advice (Marco and Debbie are photographed above):


We both have pretty hectic training schedules and a family life, but in many ways that makes it easier. We both appreciate and understand the commitment and time that’s involved, so there’s no resentment. Saying that, we still have to be mindful of each other. I can’t disappear to the mountains for the day when she’s got a long run to do too.

‘Cause when the feelin’s right I’m gonna run all night. I’m gonna run to you -Bryan Adams


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An Interview with Karen & Rob: The HAM Radio Operators Keeping Us Safe

An Interview with Karen & Rob: The HAM Radio Operators Keeping Us Safe

You may not notice them, but they’re there and they’re keeping us all safe during race weekend.

They relay info from the aid stations to the re-stock trucks. They call for rides back to Silver Hill if someone needs a lift. They keep track of the drops and the call for Emergency Services if needed. They are the eyes, ears, and voices of the VT100 that keep us all safe during the event weekend, and they are invaluable members of our team. They are our volunteer HAM radio operators, Karen Bailey Mather and Rob Mather.

Karen & Rob – The HAM Radio Operators Keeping Us Safe at the VT100

Recently, we caught up Karen and Rob to ask them a couple questions about organizing all the radio crews, and here’s what they had to share! 

Q. How did you originally get involved with the Vermont 100, as HAM operators at the Aid Stations? Which one(s)? 

Rob: For the Vermont 100 I have never worked an Aid station, my first year was Net Control.

Karen: I was originally a HAM operator at Brown School House.  Bob Stewart was having problems filling that spot because it was so remote.  He hesitated about having me cover that station until I told him I knew exactly where it was and didn’t mind.  

Q. Rob, you organize the HAM operators. How long have you done this for the VT100? Do you also train HAM operators?

Rob: I started working with Bob Steward early on, he said he had been doing this for almost 20 years and asked me if I would take over for him, it was time for him to retire. I learned a lot about the event, people and Vermont from Bob.  Shortly after learning the ins and outs I found a gap with our event starting with the supply trucks. I asked to put radio operators in the supply truck. I was told that there was no room in the trucks for anyone else.  I responded with ‘well then, I think you should all get your Amateur Radio licenses.’ Over the next winter I taught an Amateur Radio Technician course for many of the race committee.  As I learned more about the event and people behind the Vermont 100 I was drawn to them for their passion. For me it is a passion that I enjoy, mostly the people that have worked so hard for so long to ensure the success of Vermont Adaptive and the Vermont 100.

Q. Karen, you seem to be THE Net Control go-to person. Has this always been your main role at VT100?  

Karen: No, I originally covered Brown School House. Net Control has grown from having a single person at any given time to having 2 people and last year we started adding a 3rd person. It’s really a team effort and having 3 people allows time for breaks and if someone wants the opportunity to either learn Net Control or just observe, there is someone available that can explain the process to them.  The races can get pretty hectic at times and there is usually one person that covers the radio and a second that keeps notes on all of the radio traffic.  The third person can cover for breaks and answer questions that arise either from radio traffic or people just coming up to the trailer with questions.  

Q. What does CERT stand for? (You’ll see their trailer parked in front of the Big tent at Silver Hill)

Rob: Community Emergency Response Team

Q. How did CERT start? Is it a New England thing or country wide?

Rob: CERT is federal program under Homeland Security and FEMA, managed by Vermont Dept. of Emergency Management.

Q. What are your roles with CERT?

Rob: I have been a member, Instructor and have held the role of the Program Director for the Southern Windsor County CERT Team for a few years. Today I am member of the CERT TEAM.

Karen: I too have been both a member and Program Director.  

Q. What is your most favorite memory at the Vermont 100?

Karen: I try to be a the finish line when the first few runners come across the finish line.  I’m always in awe over how some literally cannot take another step while others look like they could go back and run another 100 miles!

Rob: For me it is Sunday morning watching the runners finish their 100-mile trek. For many of these folks their body gave out miles ago however their mind was stronger and allows them to finish.  

Side note as to why I do what I do: Vermont Adaptive has a special place in my heart, when I was 20 years old I was involved in a serious car accident where I fractured my neck ‘C2.’  I count my blessing every day that I was able to make a full recovery.  I could very easily have been a recipient of the services that Vermont Adaptive provides. For this I am grateful.

A Bit More

Rob and Karen were married last August after the Vermont 100 and before the Vermont 50. We sure couldn’t do this race without them!

Also! Polly & Ed! 

Here’s a picture of Polly and Ed. They are originals to the VT100 ever since the race first had radio operators, and we want to make sure they get a nod here too for all the years of amazing service they’ve provided. They typically work at Margaritaville, so be sure to say hi and give a big thank you when you’re cruising in.

Margaritaville - Polly & Ed

Remember, you can check out our blog for more VT100 interviews, race info, and lots more! 

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Interview with Laura Farrell: VT Adaptive Founder, Former VT100 RD

Interview with Laura Farrell: VT Adaptive Founder, Former VT100 RD

Our VT100 Race History & VT Adaptive page on this website give you a bit of background on Laura Farrell, but we were also lucky enough to catch up with her more personally and in greater length in this interview.

Here’s what we asked and here’s what the founder of VT Adaptive and the former Race Director of the VT100 had to say:

Q. I understand you were a long distance horse rider for many years before becoming an endurance runner. How did you get into riding?

I was an endurance rider before becoming an endurance runner. I have ridden since I was 6 yrs old. I have ridden and competed in competitive trail riding, endurance, dressage, jumping and driving. I still ride in competitive and endurance trail rides.

Q. Ultra running attracts a diverse mixed bag of people and abilities. What made you want to try endurance running?

I  have always been a runner and rider. Around 1980, I went to ride the Old Dominion 100 endurance horse race. At the time Old Dominion had runners in the race too, like Vermont has. I saw the runners at this race and said to myself that I was going to come back and run the Old Dominion. So, two years later, I did go back and fun it and I became the first women to finish both a 100 mile ride and a 100 mile runner. It felt like a natural progression.

Q. Tell us about the first year the VT100 became a foot race alongside the horses.

The first year of the 100 mile, I did not run for I was the founder and Race Director.  The horse race had already been happening and they asked me to join the horse race with a running race. So I organized it and joined them. We had 114 runners the first year but otherwise it was a little the same. We had 36 aid stations and food and the course was mostly the same.

Q. Why did you start Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sports (VASS)?

I was an athlete at the time and sports made a huge difference in my life. So I wanted anyone who wanted to enjoy and or challenge themselves through sports to be able to. It was that simple. I love being outside skiing, running, biking, riding and I want anyone to be able to  do the the same.

Q. Since their founding, both the VT100 and VASS have grown to become widely known and very popular, yet they both seem to stay true to their Vermont roots. Can you describe any challenges you faced along the way?

It is very important to me that we stay within our niche, do it very well, not try to compete or be something we are not, believe in what we do, and always make a difference in other’s lives.

Q. Do you have any advice for VT100 first timers?

I would advise them to think about how lucky they are to be able to spend all day doing something they love to do, run! They are a winner by just getting to the start line of a 100 mile. Plus, they are very very fortunate to be able to do an adventure like this.

Q. This year’s VT100 further demonstrated a deep commitment to adaptive sports by including an AWD awards division – the first ever at an ultra! What does the new division mean to you?

For me this is what it is all about. Making this opportunity available for anyone that has trained.

Q. Will you be at the race this year? Where and when can we meet you?!

I will be there. I might be horseback riding the 100 mile this year. Otherwise I am around on Friday night at dinner and Sunday clean up after the brunch.

A bit more about Laura

At 65 years old, Laura Farrell is semi-retired and skis, runs, bikes, swims, rides horseback, bikes, and hikes. Her two sons, Bobby and Brad (25 and 26 years old), have been to and volunteered at every VT100 since they were born. After directing VASS for 15 years, Laura still teaches adaptive skiing and provides sports programs and opportunities for individuals that otherwise would not be able to participate. Laura and her husband Jim live in Stowe, Vermont.

For more VT100 Interviews, check out our “VT100 Interviews” category in the Finish Line Blog. We have some amazing people featured! 

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A Must Read Interview with John Geesler: 24x VT100 Finisher

A Must Read Interview with John Geesler: 24x VT100 Finisher

VT100 rockstar, John Geesler, will be seeking his 25th finish at the 2017 VT100.

“I don’t train, so much as I just go run. Don’t have a log, or keep track of miles or time. I just want to enjoy the run.”  

In this brief interview, we tap into why this tenacious ultra runner has come back to Vermont, year after year without logging a single training run.

Q. You have 24 Vermont finishes under your belt. That’s amazing! How did that happen?

I ran a lot marathons and heard about ultras. I thought 100 miles sounded a little crazy, so I tried a 50-miler. That went so well [that] I figured I’d try a hundred. At the time, there were only 7 hundreds in the country. Being from New York state, Vermont was the easiest to drive to, so I signed up. That was the 3rd edition of the race. I came in 5th and never felt bad.

Q. Why the VT100 and not another race?

The scenery and atmosphere are intoxicating. It’s a very laid back state. I love the horses and the whole package.

Q. Have you ever started the VT100 and not finished? Do you have any advice for participants?

I ran 14 straight Vermonts coming in the top 10 each time. Then a 24-hour World Championship conflicted and I missed a year. I came back the following year very injured and barely broke 24 hours; devastating, but that’s life. I missed another year due to the 24-hour, but since then haven’t missed any more. Stomach issues keep me from doing as well, but I’ve always finished. When I finally finished in the daylight again, it was the wrong day. Dropping out is a personal choice, but don’t do it because you feel badly. That can change. You’ve got to give it your best shot, try and get fuel in yourself, and keep moving; even if slowly.

Q. What do you think of the changes over the years?

Races evolve. I do miss the Rojek‘s horse Farm and seeing the same people every year. It’s a much bigger sport and if you don’t change with it, it will leave you behind. Silver Hill was needed and it does the job wonderfully. The level of competition hasn’t changed that much at Vermont, but in the sport itself the competition has improved a lot. There were hardly any twenty somethings back in the day. Now we’re loaded with them. It’s not just for people too old to run fast anymore. It still seems to be a sport where everyone helps everyone. Vermont has had several Race Directors and they’ve all been wonderful. Fresh faces bring fresh idea’s. It’s good.

Q. Do you follow the greater ultra running community?

I read quite a bit but don’t surf the net. I’m usually out of touch because of a lack of time for the computer but enjoy reading about the racing. I’ll race the trails, on the road or the track. It’s all good. Mostly love being in the Adirondacks.

Q. How has your training been going for this year’s VT100?

I don’t train, so much as I just go run. Don’t have a log, or keep track of miles or time. I just want to enjoy the run.

A bit more about John

When John Geesler is not running, he enjoys the variability and challenges of working in maintenance at a textile factory (“not glamorous but I like my work, which includes almost anything”), he also raises animals and has a large garden. We know where we want to eat dinner next.

Thanks John, and good luck with your 25th finish!  Look for him wearing bib #25!

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Team Run 2 Empower – Meet the 2017 Team

Team Run 2 Empower – Meet the 2017 Team

Every year, the VT100 reserves race entries for Team Run to Empower. Team Run 2 Empower is made up of individuals who commit to fundraising a minimum of $1,000 for Vermont Adaptive Ski & Sports, a nationally recognized nonprofit providing sports and recreational programs to people with disabilities.

Team Run 2 Empower is a large reason why the VT100 is one of biggest yearly fundraisers for Vermont Adaptive. They spend many hours over several months training to get to the VT100 start line, and they are deeply passionate about our race and they believe strongly in its cause as an event that extends beyond themselves and into the lives of others. So, let’s meet this year’s *2017 participants.

To learn more about Team Run 2 Empower, make a donation to the team or an individual on this team, or learn more about Vermont Adaptive – Please visit the Team Run 2 Empower PledgeReg page.

Team Run 2 Empower – Meet the 2017 Team

Leah Christensen

I’m a wife, mom to four, elementary art/phys ed teacher and ultra runner.  I love dogs, poetry and photography.  This is my second year raising funds for Vermont Adaptive. 

Last year was my first experience with the VT100 race itself.  I was blown away by the family like environment, amazing volunteers, outstanding organization and fundraising for Vermont Adaptive.  I have to admit, at that point, I wasn’t quite sure what I was getting into raising funds.  I had heard very little about Vermont Adaptive, but boy did I learn!  People were so willing to give for such a wonderful cause, and the Vermont Adaptive presentation and speech at the pre-race gathering was so motivational, I knew that when the invite came around this year I would want to help again.

Although I am not directly involved with the program itself, I love being able to give what I can by doing this fundraising event.  My only regret is that more states do not try to mirror the fine work that Vermont Adaptive does in getting folks outside.  I am by no means a disabled individual, but I suffer from and battle depression, so I know what a great help it is to get outside and enjoy being active.  Ultra running has been a personal lifesaver for me in this regard. 

I am so honored to be able to run for Team Run 2 Empower and raise funds for this second year in a row!

Neil Feldman

I ran the race in 2010 and that was my 1st intro to Vermont adaptive and ski. It was very cool to see what is being done to help people with disabilities to have more of the life experiences they otherwise may be missing. I raised money for team Hoyt for 3 years even was able to have the privilege of pushing an athlete in a chair during one of the local races. I’ve enjoyed the feeling of supporting a cause beyond my own personal goals. I was going to participate in this years race, and when I saw the team being formed,  I jumped at the chance. It’s really an honor to be supporting this program and all of you who dedicate yourselves to improving the lives of others. So thank you!!

Sharon Knorr


This is my first year raising money for Vermont Adaptive. I have participated in sports and outdoor activities for as long as I can remember, but running is my greatest passion. It would really be impossible for me to describe myself without being able to share how much running is a part of who I am, whether it be out on the road or trails, or supporting and spectating others. At the same time, I have loved ones who have been sidelined due to lifelong disability, who dream of being able to join in with their friends and family. I also have loved ones who have lost, through illness or injury, their ability to participate in what they are passionate about, and while a few of those people were able to redirect their passions elsewhere, others still struggle. Being physical active provides an immeasurable value to one’s life not easily replaced by anything else. I wanted to run to raise money for Vermont Adaptive because they work so hard to provide equal opportunities for people of all abilities to participate in sports and recreational activities, giving them the experiences they would not otherwise have. I feel honored to be able to share my passion for running with others in this way, so that they may know the same joy and wellness through physical activity.  

James Lehneman

I decided to run to raise money for Vermont Adaptive because it allows me to do two things I enjoy at the same time, run and help people.

I feel very fortunate to be able to live a very active lifestyle, without any physical, medical or other challenges to overcome.  My first exposure to help people with disabilities was the Special Olympics when I was back in High School.  I was able to work with a young boy and teach him to XC Ski.  I was surprised how good it made me feel.  Since then I have helped raise money and awareness for several organizations that help people with all forms of disabilities and illnesses.  My first fundraising for Vermont Adaptive was in 2012 when I ran the VT50 for the first time.  That was my first 50 Mile race and it changed my life.  I believe joining Team Run to Empower is a perfect way for me to continue to raise awareness of Vermont Adaptive and take on the biggest physical challenge of my life, the VT100.  This will be my first 100 Mile run and possibly the first of many more to come.

I am proud to have been able to be part of the team. 

Robert Kintz

I need to run a 100 miler…a year ago I choose to raise money as a way to insure my entry into VT100…not much of a statement about Vermont Adaptive but I can say this…I’ve been on the board of the Krempels Center in Portsmouth, NH for 7 or 8 years where we help people with acquired brain injuries regain meaning and purpose in their lives. This includes connecting some of the members with adaptive bikes so that they can ride in an annual fundraiser called the King of the Road Challenge.  I have learned how these folks struggle each day dealing with their issues…yet they don’t complain or give up…and they’re always ready to aid others. It’s pretty motivating for me as I’m in a perpetual training cycle and I imagine that Vermont Adaptive is also providing folks with an opportunity to push themselves beyond their current injuries…I’m very happy to be part of Team Run 2 Empower and support the efforts of Vermont Adaptive.


Jim Hughes

My father and 5 brothers have been long time participants in the Vermont 50 since 2004; both running and biking. This is my first year running the VT100 with my longtime friend Neil Feldman and fundraising for Vermont Adaptive.

I’m excited to be both running the race for the first time; but also supporting this great organization!  


Jeff Stauch

This is my second year raising money for VT Adaptive.  I enjoy fundraising for VT Adaptive because I know that I’m giving folks who wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors the chance to do so thanks to the amazing programming offered by VT Adaptive.  It’s an honor to be a part of the work that they do in this small way.


Scout Phillips

This will be my second year running the VT100 and running as a charity runner. I’m in the men’s solo division (same as last year).


Matt Klein

This July I’m going to be competing in my fourth Vermont 100 mile ultra-running marathon. I’m as excited for this race as I was when I ran my first VT 100. Running is something that I’m incredibly passionate about as it’s helped to change my life for the better. It’s also provided me the ability to help others through my blood, sweat and tears.

When I reflect on how I got to this point, there are clearly moments that are “life altering” as I like to say. There’s the obvious – like relationships and children – and then there are some that are not so clear at first glance. For me, the Vermont 100 is one of those moments (actually, more like 24+ hours of moments strung together 😉

The kindness and caring that was provided to me out on the course, by volunteers, is something that I’ll forever be grateful. And to know that I can help make some small difference is worth any “suffering” that occurs out on the course.

I first participated in this race in 2014. I was so moved by the prerace dinner and presentation, and then, as I mentioned above, the volunteers out on the course, that I decided to come back and put the effort to good use. The race itself, and what the body and mind go through over a day’s worth of straight running, is hard to define and articulate. But more so, I was incredibly moved and humbled by Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sports. I’m happy to say that this is my third year in a row raising funds. And I’m super proud to say that I’ve been able to raise, with help from friends, family and folks in my community, more than $30 thousand over the last three years. 

Today I’m grateful to have the ability to even attempt to run 100 miles. It’s not lost on me that there are people out there for whom simply walking can be a challenge. The amazing work that VA conducts, as well as all the people involved are what keeps me coming back for more – year after year. Having the opportunity to put my legs to good use for VA is well worth any sacrifice on my end. 

Meg Cullings

Running cross country and track was an absolute lifesaver when we moved as my twin sister and I were starting 7th grade. It gave me goals; a “rabbit” ahead of me to chase; a rivals time; a hill; laps on the track;or the clock itself-to challenge myself. The sights and sounds of a trail race or a track meet were inviting and I felt “at home” and like I belonged. The move was full of challenges but gave me the biggest “gift” in finding running.
Finding out about Vermont Adaptive and running for Team 2 Empower feels like the opportunity to pay it forward for someone else…who may be at a similar unexpected crossroads & have no idea how beautiful and life changing and inspiring their journey is about to be enhanced. It’s the greatest gift ever to fuel your own freedom with a day skiing; or kayaking; or riding a horse; or a bike is my best friend. It gave me a favorite job ever as a bike messenger(every day in all 4 seasons-changing flats as quick as possible or you don’t make any money…)Running & cycling takes me through the highs; and then the tough days of losing my has been an honor to be a member of Team 2 Empower and Vermont Adaptive. What new adventure will you start with them?…..

Jack Bailey

This year is my fourth time participating in the Vermont 100, but the first time I’ve ever raised money for Vermont Adaptive.  It has been through my participation in VT100 that I’ve learned about Vermont Adaptive and I’ve always admired their work ever since first learning about them.  I have a background in sports medicine and once worked for an orthotics and prosthetics company where I gained a first-hand appreciation for crafting assistive devices for people to stay active.    I feel blessed to have my health and the enjoyment I get from being active through running, so this year I decided to put my time and talents to use for a worthy cause, and I couldn’t have chosen a better organization than Vermont Adaptive!  It is so motivating to see the determination, and enjoyment, of those who benefit from Vermont Adaptive, and I’m just glad I can give a little bit back.

Mark Ryder

I ran last year as a Charity bib runner for two reasons; i) I thought it was a nice idea, other of my friends ran different races and raised money, ii) It was a guaranteed entry.  I wasn’t able to finish last year so I still wanted that guaranteed entry. However, after guiding some visually impaired runners  a couple months after last years race and how much fun and what a difference it could make I thought this was a great idea, so I thought I would try it again.


I was matched with a little guy named Nick about 3 years ago. Nick, my WingMan, suffered a brain injury at birth and does not have mobility in one whole side. His parents have never given up on the hope that he might be able walk, and even run someday. He is excelling in school, very dedicated to all of his different therapies and loved by everyone he meets…his energy is infectious! He participates in a local adaptive sports camp where he lives, much like VASS, and largely in part thanks to the kindness of donors who support such an amazing opportunity. 

This is my 3rd year fundraising for VASS, and my 6th attempt at finishing VT100…I just love what this event is all about. There is a certain depth of humanity that is experienced out in those miles, and I can’t seem to get enough of it. When the chance came up to be a part of the fundraising team and do more for VASS, it was a natural choice. I love being a part of something bigger, something pretty special. 

Claude Parent

I just want to let you know how lucky I feel to be able to run for such a great cause.

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Claude

*Note – The above list of individuals represents the majority of the 2017 Team Run 2 Empower team, however some participants didn’t submit their bios to us on time to get published. You can still find those unlisted individuals (as well as others) and donate to their campaigns within the Team Run 2 Empower PledgeReg page. Cheers!

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Interviewing the VT100’s Camp Ten Bear Aid Station Captains

Interviewing the VT100’s Camp Ten Bear Aid Station Captains

A 4-Question Interview with the Camp Ten Bear Aid Station Captains

In this post, we chat with Carolyn Shreck and Josh Katzman. Carolyn and Josh of the TARC running club captain the Camp Ten Bear aid station, which plays a crucial role in supporting runners at both miles 47 and 70. This spot is known for being nearly half way to the finish and for where you can finally pick up your pacer.

Let’s see what they had to say!

Q. What are you responsible for at Ten Bear? How long have you been volunteering there? How did you get involved?

Carolyn Shreck: I’ve toed the start line three times at VT100. Ten Bear was, hands down, the most memorable aid station for me as a runner, so when I decided to volunteer I knew Ten Bear was where I wanted to be. In 2016, I shadowed Mike Silverman, Mark Kruger, and Josh doing anything that was needed. This year Mike, Surjeet Paintal &  I will be there with a team of awesome Trail Animals Running Club (TARC) volunteers to help runners accomplish their amazing goals.

Josh Katzman: I’d say that my role is mostly behind the scenes. I try to beat the drum to get as many people as we can to show up to make sure Ten Bear runs as smoothly as possible. Because it is used twice during the race, we’ve got nearly 24 hours we’ve got to cover!  I’ve been helping out in that capacity since 2015, but I have only been able to help out on site in 2016 because my family is usually on vacation during the VT100.  I’ve spent time at the aid station as a runner and crew though, and it really is the most energetic place in the race (except maybe the start and finish!).  In terms of getting involved, I blame Mark. It’s all his fault.

Q. Since runners pass through twice and it’s a crew access point, Ten Bear can be a pretty hectic aid station. How do you successfully keep the chaos in check? Is there a secret sauce to running a well organized aid station?

Carolyn: Runners, volunteers, and especially Crews all reported that the 2016 setup at Ten Bear was the most efficient ever. Mike Silverman and Mark Kruger reorganized traffic flow to a ‘one way’ and got permission from a landowner to use a nearby field for crew parking. These changes drastically cut down congestion and chaos. Some crews were initially a little resistant to not being able to drive through the aid station and park where they had in the past, but later agreed the new system worked well.

Josh: The absolute key is having people like Mike, Mark and Carolyn who have been running these events and aid stations at other events for a long time. Just like a race, you have to be unflappable. If issues come up, like parking, you just need to figure out a way to troubleshoot. Mike’s big win last year was talking to the farmer at the end of the road so that we could park cars in his hay field. That made a huge difference because parking is always so tight there. It’s also important to remember that this should all be fun. Because of the incredible team of people and the tons of experience they bring on both sides of the race, things definitely go well!

Q. What Camp Ten Bear aid station specific advice would you give to first time runners?

Carolyn: Runners have access to Drop Bags and Crews at Ten Bear. There is a lot of activity (and friends!) there that could add up to many minutes of wasted time if runners aren’t careful. I encourage runners to have a solid mental checklist as they come into Ten Bear of what they want to accomplish so they can efficiently get in and out without wasting time or forgetting anything. When I’m running into an Aid Station, I repeat the list in my head in the order I’m going to do things: “garbage” (dump empty wrappers), “water” (hand bottles to volunteer), “feet” (change socks, shoes and treat blisters), and, “restock” (grab what I need from my drop bag). After they have called out their bib number, I encourage runners to just shout out their needs  as they are running into Ten Bear, so volunteers can help them efficiently. Something like, “I have a drop bag, number 374,” or, “can someone please fill these with Tailwind,” or, “I need to see medical”. We want to help, please tell us what we can do to help make your race successful! And always, always, always thank the volunteers!

Josh: When you leave Ten Bear the first time, you’ve got a pretty tough road climb to get out of the aid station. Just remember, even though you will soon pass the halfway point after the first visit, you are going to need your quads for those last 30 miles. I think I went too hard between miles 50-70 and it forced me to drop at mile 92!  These miles will catch up to you if you aren’t mindful of the downhills, especially. When you leave Ten Bear the second time, you’ve got a pretty long trail uphill once you cross the street. Try to jog the flat out of the aid station, and know that in 4-6 minutes you’ll have a hill you can hike/recover on if you need.

In terms of getting through the aid station, I think you should look for ways to cool yourself down. In 2016, we had buckets of ice water that we sponged people off with. Get some of that on your neck/head! You have access to a lot of water and Tailwind on the course. You won’t have access to ice or sponge baths as much.

We’ve also got port-a-potties. Use them if you need! Drop bags will be on your left when you come in. There are a lot, so make sure your name and bib number are all on your bag really clearly and large. If you have a crew, tell them to pick up your drop bag before you arrive. If you are solo, write “SOLO” on your drop bag, just so we will know you’re on your own!  And it’s tempting, because Ten Bear has so much energy, but tell yourself that (aside from any acute issue that needs to be addressed), you will spend no more than 3 or 4 minutes when you visit.  If you know you get stressed out by a lot of movement/people moving around, plan on spending even less time at Ten Bear.

As for Medical advice, I dropped at mile 92, so I’m probably not the best person to ask. In those last 30 miles, any difficulty or challenge gets compounded exponentially. You’ve got to be honest with yourself about your status, otherwise you won’t be able to change anything.  And this year’s crew at Ten Bear is, probably, the most experienced and knowledgeable that we’ve had there, so use them if you have any questions or problems. And address chaffing/blister issues. We’ve got a full medical staff at Ten Bear. They’re awesome.

Mostly though, DON’T FORGET WHERE YOU GOING! If it’s your first time through, you LEAVE UP THE HILL!  If it’s your second time through, follow the direction of all the parked cars – you’ll leave the same way they do!  

Q. What aid station specific advice would you give to first time volunteers? What makes a good aid station volunteer?

Carolyn: Anyone can volunteer! You totally don’t have to be a runner, know anything about running, or have ever volunteered at anything ever before. You will be parking and checking in at the volunteer desk at the start/finish area and then be transported by shuttle to Ten Bear. When you arrive please find me, Mike, or Surjeet to check in so we can assign you to a location like parking, food prep, traffic control, or water. Once you’re at your station shadow a veteran volunteer to see what they are doing and especially how they approach and talk to runners. Bring a small bag of personal items you may need for the hours you will be there, sunscreen, sunglasses, hat, jacket, special foods, etc. Home baked goods are always the biggest hit at an aid station, so if you want to bring cookies, rice krispie treats, other baked good please do! Runners might even hug you for it, I know I have! Do not bring valuables you might have to leave unattended, make sure everything like cellphone and wallets can stay on you at all times! And lastly, as much as we all love them, please do not bring pets of any kind.

Josh: If you’re helping out for the first time, there are definitely some things you can do to help yourself out:

  • Water: Bring a lot of water and don’t forget to drink it!  It will get hot/humid and you will be exhausted.  
  • Food: Bring some of your own food. Yes, enjoying the fruits of an aid station is wonderful, but one does start to feel a bit “blah” after many hours of potato chips, M&M’s, and grilled cheese.
  • Sun Protection: If you use it, sunscreen would be huge.  As would a hat.
  • Comfortable shoes: You’ll be on your feet most of the time, so I find I actually prefer to have my running shoes on (and you never know when you may need to jog up the hill with a runner!), and always bring at least two pairs in case one gets wet during the day.
  • Don’t be concerned about: “not knowing what to do.” Most runners simply need someone to speak to, to vocalize their concerns/worries. Tell them they’re looking good, and that you are impressed by what they are doing/have done. If you want some specific troubleshooting knowledge, talk to the experienced volunteers before runners start arriving. They can definitely give you some ideas that you can start helping runners troubleshoot with if you want.  But if in doubt, get one of those “vets” or the medical team to help you with a runner.
  • And never forget: the best volunteers are those that make every single runner feel like he or she is the most important person in the world.  If you can help people feel like a rockstar, whether he/she is in first or last, that is the sort of positive emotion that will get them to the finish line.  If you can make each runner you see on the day feel this way, well, you will be the rockstar!

Finally, and totally selfishly, those volunteers that bring some awesome food to share with the other volunteers?  Yeah, they’re always super popular!

Now that you’ve heard from the captains 

Are you interested in volunteering to help out at the VT100? Check out our post that covers all you need to know about volunteering, including links to sign up.

*Note About Interviewing

*The VT100 is proud of all of the participants of our events, from the racers to volunteers to land owners who grant us access to their beautiful property to enjoy the weekend. So, we like to take time to feature some of these people and get an inside look at their perspective on the race and how they help make it thrive. If you know anyone who would make a good interviewee, please contact us in the form below and we’ll see what we can do! 

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5 Questions with Kyle Robidoux – A 2017 AWD Participant

5 Questions with Kyle Robidoux – A 2017 AWD Participant

The 2017 Vermont 100 will be the first ultra ever to formally recognize Athletes With Disabilities with an awards division for ultra runners with visual or mobility impairments, and we’re so proud to bring you this interview with Kyle Robidoux in anticipation.

Kyle Robidoux: A 5-question interview on being part of the 2017 VT100 as an AWD

Kyle’s Story

Kyle Robidoux - at Pineland Farms 50-miler
Kyle at the 2017 Pineland Farms 50-miler, alongside his guides, Nat, Nicole, and Amy.

Kyle Robidoux is an ultra runner from Boston who will be among the historic inaugural cohort at this year’s 2017 VT100 recognizing athletes with disabilities.

Kyle has completed many marathons, including completing the Boston Marathon twice in one day by running out to the starting line, and then running back to the finish! He’s also run the Vermont 50 at Mount Ascutney, Ghost Train Ultra in New Hampshire, and Pineland Trails Ultra in Maine.

Born with retinitis pigmentosa, a degenerative eye condition that gradually limits an individual’s field of vision, Kyle is a Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sports participant and will be competing in the VT100’s new visually impaired awards division. This will be his first 100 mile race.

When Kyle is not running, you can find him hanging out with his wife and 9 year old daughter, Lucy, enjoying an interesting micro-brew, and advocating for inclusion as the Director of Volunteer Services at the Massachusetts Association for the Blind.

The Interview

Q. How has your training been so far? How do you train for trails while living in the city?

Kyle: My training has been on-point and I am hitting all of my weekly mileage goals.  Living in the city definitely makes it a challenge to run trails and hills. I spend a lot of time doing multiple hill repeats on the steepest hills in Boston. Thankfully, I have some great friends and sighted guides who also drive/run with me to nearby trails such as The Fells and Blue Hills.

Q. We’re about four weeks away from race day. What does your training block look like for the next four weeks?

Kyle: The last three weeks of my plan will be my largest training block to date. Each week will set a new weekly high for mileage which is exciting and keeping me motivated. I am focusing on back-to back-to back runs Fridays-Sundays to train my body and mind to run on tired legs. I am very thankful for my family’s patience with my training.

Q. What are your race goals and what is your race day strategy?

Kyle: My A+ stretch goal is just under 24-hours. This hopefully will keep me motivated to keep moving forward. My B goal is 26 hours and C is to finish. My strategy is to keep an even effort for the first half while knowing that the terrain is more challenging the last 30 miles. For trail running, terrain often dictates my pace/ability to run/walk (except for hills), so I will be smart and take what the trails give me. Quote from a VT finisher from last year: “Don’t run like an idiot the first 50, and don’t run like a wimp the second 50” will be my mantra.

Q. Who will be guiding you?

Kyle: I am incredibly grateful to have six runners who are sharing their sight as guides and some of whom are driving up from Pennsylvania and New Jersey. I’m honored to have Amy Rusiecki guiding me for the first 15 miles and whose leadership, along with the race committee, made the Athletes With Disabilities division possible. A few of the guides I train with on a regular basis, a few I will meet the weekend of including my Team Nathan teammate Maggie Guterl.

Q. Do you have any advice for race directors on including an Athletes With Disabilities Awards Division at their ultra?

Kyle: Much like other divisions, runners take great pride in being able to participate in a division of their peers. The same holds true for runners with different abilities. I encourage Race Directors to reach out to local athletes and organizations that support athletes with disabilities to begin a conversation on how they can make their race inclusive and open to all runners.

A little Extra

*Note About Interviewing

*The VT100 is proud of all of the participants of our events, from the racers to volunteers to land owners who grant us access to their beautiful property to enjoy the weekend. So, we like to take time to feature some of these people and get an inside look at their perspective on the race and how they help make it thrive. If you know anyone who would make a good interviewee, please contact us in the form below and we’ll see what we can do! 

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Amazing Interview with 2017 AWD Participant Jason Romero

Amazing Interview with 2017 AWD Participant Jason Romero

As the first ultra ever to formally recognize Athletes With Disabilities in their own division, the 2017 VT100 race crew is proud to bring you this interview with upcoming AWD participant Jason Romero.

Jason Romero: His Story and the 9-question interview

Jason’s Story

Jason Romero is ultra runner from Denver who plans to toe the line in what is sure to be a historic 2017 VT100, marking a truly special moment for ultra running as a sport and athletes with disabilities everywhere.

In middle school, Jason was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa, an incurable degenerative retinal disease.  The condition is characterized by night-blindness, decreased visual acuity and a consistent loss of peripheral vision.

Jason Comes to VT100 in Incredible Shape with Incredible Experience  

Jason Romero at Leadville 100
Jason at Leadville

In 2016, Jason ran across America in 59.5 days, averaging 51.5 miles per day. He is a member of the U.S. Paralympic Team, where he placed 4th in the world at the marathon in 2015. He has completed 12 runs of 100 miles or longer, including Badwater and Leadville, and a finished a solo Rim2Rim2Rim crossing of the Grand Canyon.

So, needless to say – Jason is a badass! But he’s not just in it for himself. He gives back so much to people and community, too.

When Jason is not running, he can be found volunteering at schools, service organizations, churches and youth detention centers speaking about overcoming adversity. He works as a motivational speaker specializing on business topics like teamwork, leadership, risk taking and change.

Jason is also a single father of three – Sierra, Sage and Sophia – and serves on the board of two nonprofits that help the homeless and provide mental health services.

The Interview

Q. How has your training been so far?

Training has been going well.  I’ve had a good base building spring with a couple marathons and a longer 81 mile race at Badwater Salton Sea that went well.  Since then I’ve been working on forcing my body to handle multiple 20+ mile sessions in a week.  No major injuries to speak of, so I’d say things are going well.  I’ve purposely not incorporated speed work, as all of this training and racing is leading to one race that happens at the end of September.  And that race requires Long Slow Distance (LSD) training, in my opinion.

Q. How do you train for trails while living in the city of Denver?  

When I stopped driving, I changed from being a trail runner to a predominantly road runner.  I had to get creative to simulate climbing and building leg strength.  I had heard that Marshall Ulrich trained for his run across America by dragging a tire.  So, I made a “tire drag(video content), and that’s how I build hip strength and simulate hills.  I also have a hill at a park close to my house where I will do hill repeats of an hour, and sometimes 2, if I’m feeling crazy.  I have a lot of experience running technical trails when I used to race trails like the Leadville 100 Trail Race.  I also trained on Pikes Peak and ran the Barr Trail to the top and back too many times to count.  I’m confident on my experience with foot placement and understanding how to handle scree fields, ankle biter rocks, rooted sections and culverts that drainage flow creates in trails.  That said, I expect to fall and be bloodied every time I run a trail. That’s just how it goes when you don’t see well. I’ve found that if I hold back, I get hurt worse than if I just let ‘er rip and run as hard and fast as my body will allow (regardless of what my eyes can see).

Q. Is Vermont a training run for something larger, or a recovery run from Bad Water?

Vermont is a training run in this year’s racing schedule.  As mentioned above, my A race is in September – Spartathlon.  For me, every step this year will lead to the foot of the statue of King Leonidas, the finish of the Spartathlon.  I have attempted the race for the past two years and timed out at mile 100 and 120.  This year, I hope to make it to the end – mile 153 in under 36 hours.

I’ll be pacing at Badwater the weekend before Vermont.  I’m helping the guy who is going to guide me for Spartathlon.  I expect to run 40-50 miles at Badwater, but I’m taking the night shift when it’s not so hot (100 degrees or so).

Q. We’re about four weeks away from race day. What does your training block look like for the next four weeks?  

This coming weekend I’ll run the Bryce 50 which should have similar terrain as Vermont and has a decent amount of elevation gain.  After that, I’ll be putting in a marathon every weekend, and running every day.  Usually, the week before a 100 mile race I stop running cold turkey.  No shakeout run or anything. I’m so old I like to save every step and ounce of energy for race day.

Q. What’s your A goal for Vermont?  

Finish with a smile

Q. Do you have a B and C goal?  

Finish without a smile

Q. What is your race day strategy?  

Stay relaxed and feel fresh at mile 70.  If I’m doing good at that point, I’ll fire the jets and race to the end.

Q. Do you have any advice for race directors on including an Athletes With Disabilities Awards Division at their ultra?  

This has been a dream of mine for a long time.  I have ran ultras for a long time, and I was “in the closet” as a blind person.  Only in the last few years have I come out of the closet.  It has long been a dream of mine to see the USATF and the IAU recognize records for athletes with disabilities in ultra-running events.  

Amy and VT100’s leadership in this area can go a long way toward making this a reality.  Records are made to be broken, and it will pull more people from their couches and isolation to running which combats depressive chemicals and builds community.  Life is better with running.  Challenged athletes will see that they are welcome at ultras, and believe it is normal for them to participate in the events.  The Boston Marathon was a pioneer in creating an AWD division for marathoning.  Now, there are multiple marathons, halves and shorter distance races that recognize the division.  And, I believe, as a result of these divisions we have more challenged athletes participating in these races.  I think it’s huge and inspiring for able bodied athletes to race alongside challenged athletes.  I think it’s also more eye opening for able bodied athletes to be beaten by challenged athletes (I hope to open some eyes at Vermont this year).

A little Extra

*Note About Interviewing

*The VT100 is proud of all of the participants of our events, from the racers to volunteers to land owners who grant us access to their beautiful property to enjoy the weekend. So, we like to take time to feature some of these people and get an inside look at their perspective on the race and how they help make it thrive. If you know anyone who would make a good interviewee, please contact us in the form below and we’ll see what we can do! 

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