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.
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”
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!