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!