Thursday, July 31, 2008

Interview: Ira Zaroff

Name: Ira Zaroff
Age: 33
Residence: Melville, NY
Birthplace: Queens, NY
Occupation: Attorney
Years Running: 5 or 6 for marathons and ultras.
Running and Other Accomplishments/Hobbies: 9 marathons and 15 ultras.

SJ: Thanks for taking the time to speak with me about your latest adventure Ira. You recently ran 120 Miles through Long Island, NY. Tell us a little bit about your adventure. Where did you start and where did you finish?
IZ: The run started at the lighthouse at Montauk Point on the eastern end of Long Island and finished at the Nassau Queens border on the western end of the Island.

SJ: How did you first come up with the idea to run 120 miles?
IZ: I've been wanting to run the length of Long Island for a few years now. Alicja Barahona, an extremely accomplished ultra runner (and all-around great person), has run it before for a breast cancer charity. I met up with her at the Caumsett 50k this past March and discussed running it with her for her charity and a children's charity that I'm involved with called Friends of Karen, Inc. We were set to run it together but there were issues with the charities co-sponsoring the run so I decided to just run it on my own.

SJ: So you were running on behalf of a charitable cause?
IZ: Friends of Karen, Inc. is a children's charity that my wife and I are involved with. It provides emotional, financial and advocacy support to children with life threatening illnesses and their families. Information about the charity can be found at their website

SJ: Can we still donate and how?
IZ: Any donations are always greatly appreciated. Please visit their website for information,

SJ: Was it difficult to plan the logistics of your run?
IZ: The whole thing was actually put together relatively quickly. The course is basically one road the entire way until the last ten miles or so. It is mostly safe running on wide shoulders and sidewalks. Planning was as simple as making a list of the things I'd need along the way (fluids, food, etc.), buying them and sticking them in a cooler in the back of my dad's car. We did drive the route a few weeks before the run just to familiarize ourselves with it.

SJ: Did you use any pacers or crew?
IZ: My wife and dad crewed me the entire way and my brother and his wife, Jodi, came out for the last 70 miles. I had some good company along the way. Newsday, Long Island's newspaper, printed an article about me and the run the week before. As a result, a great guy from the Suffolk County Police Department came out to run with me for about 20 miles, more than he had ever run before. My friend Peter came out and ran 15 miles with me and my good friend Mark came out to meet me at around mile 65 and ran the remaining 55 miles with me. He'd never run more than a marathon before! I was really proud of him for that. On Sunday morning I had a whole bunch of people run anywhere from one mile to six with me up until the finish.

SJ: What was the hardest part of your journey?
IZ: Sunday was brutal for me. It was unseasonably warm and humid that day and I was not acclimated to the heat. I ran most of the morning on exposed road without any shade. I probably had a good case of heat exhaustion when I finished.

SJ: Do you plan to do it again?
IZ: I'm hoping to make this an annual event for the charity. We did very well raising money and awareness. I'd like to get all of the communities we run through involved to bring them together to support this great cause.

SJ: What would you do differently on your next attempt?
IZ: It's not a race, but getting it done faster would be nice. This year it took me 30:13 to finish. I would also like to try and stay more positively focused. Ups and downs in ultras are a part of it, but it's nice to look back and remember smiling even during the down parts.

SJ: How did you train for this? How many miles per week?
IZ: I didn't do any specific training for this other than to back off the trails a bit and run mostly on roads for the last two or so weeks leading into the run since the run was entirely on roads. I typically peak at about 65 to 70 miles per week. I went into this thinking that 120 miles on the relatively flat roads of Long Island at sea level probably equal about 60 or 65 miles of mountain running at altitude like at the GTR100 that we were both at last year.

SJ: Do you utilize the services of a coach?
IZ: For my birthday in April, my wife surprised me and signed me up with Karl Meltzer. I've been training with him since. I'm running more miles each week consistently than I was before and the longest run I've done while on his program is not much more than 20 miles. However, for those 20 or so mile runs, I seek out the most gnarly trails and hills I can find in my neck of the woods. I also do longer back-to-backs than I did before training with Karl.

SJ: How beneficial is your coaches services to you?
IZ: Extremely beneficial. Before using Karl, I pretty much just winged my training. I've lined up for quite a few races thinking that I had no business being there. With a coach, there is a schedule to follow and the schedule has a point and a purpose so it's nice to have focused training that actually makes sense.

SJ: Tell us your favorite memory from your run.
IZ: It made me really proud that at least four people that came out to run with me ran longer with me than they ever had before. Also, seeing my two girls at the finish.

SJ: What other races or events do you have planned for this year?
IZ: I'm running the Burning River 100 miler this coming weekend in Ohio. In October and November I'll run a couple of local ultras including a 6 hour run and a 60k. I'd like to sneak away for another 50 miler or 100 before the close of the year, but it'll be hard with work and the family. I've got your NE races on the top of the list though!

Ira, seriously, you took on an amazing task of running the length of Long Island and you delivered. Congratulations to you and your charity. We wish you the best of luck during the rest of your season, good luck at Burning River, and we look forward to hearing more about your upcoming adventures!

Monday, July 21, 2008

RR: 2008 Vermont 100

July 19-20, 2008
Woodstock, Vermont
The 20th Annual Vermont 100-Mile Endurance Run


The 20th annual Vermont 100 Mile endurance run was my 6th 100 Mile race and my 5th such race of this distance in the last 365 days. Of the group of friends I have made over the months, I’f like to consider myself the veteran. The 3 of them were trying to distance for their first time. We made a deal a few months ago that of the 4 of us, whoever was in last would carry a pacifier with them. And when you passed one of the others, you’d hand it off so that then they would have it. We all agreed and so it went. Myself and 4 of my closest friends, running against each other for 100 miles with the hopes of never carrying the pacifier and what we got in the end.. was one amazing time.
(The Pacifier Boys - Jeff, Me, Nate, Paul)

Spending the last 2.5 months working as a landscaper helps me greatly. Instead of working in an AC’d office, I’m out in the heat and humidity of New England every day, pruning bushes, and chasing lawn mowers. I love it, every bit of it and I think it showed during the race.

The Race:
Start to Pretty House:

Nate took the pacifier at the start whether he was going to be in last place out of our group or not with the plan to trade it off at the first handler station (Pretty House). The countdown began as a light rain continued to fall, 3, 2, 1… and we were off running downhill. Nate and I stuck together for a little bit, but we were determined to run our own race. Soon we all spread out a bit and leap frogged one another. I quickly noticed I had some small pebbles in my shoe and stopped on the side of the road to fix the problem right away. It was about Mile 4 or 5. As I stood up from fixing my shoe, an amazingly rugged stomachache descended upon me. I was getting frustrated early, as things weren’t quite in order with all of 95 miles to go. I ducked off into the woods to take care of business and while there I looked around to see I had stepped off into a patch of briars where every leaf had a thorn on it. My blood pressure rose as my patience with myself was wearing thin. I managed to find ample materials to clean off and then headed back down the road. I passed the aid at Mile 7 and still felt rocks in my shoe, so I stopped.. AGAIN… to fix the issue before continuing on down the road.

Nate had all ready begun to chafe as we descended into Taftsville so he stepped aside to address the issue. I continued to run, crossed the bridge and onto the next road which is one of the very few flat stretches on the course. Trees and limbs absolutely littered the area, remnants of last night’s severe thunderstorm that ripped through the area. As I made it to the aid station at the end of the road, I saw Joe Desena and Jason Hayden of Peak Races putting in some volunteer work. Joe gave me a hard time about me being a bit slower to this point this year. I grabbed some grub before moving on. As I wandered up the hill from the station I looked down to see red powder EVERYWHERE. My flashlight had been bouncing around in my Nathan Vest and it punctured a hole in my zip-lock baggy of Clip2. The powder leaked out everywhere. I returned to the station to use the rest of the powder to mix drink into my bottle. I washed my hands and then finally, left the station for good.

I headed up the hill and saw Jeff. I called his name and he waited for me as we ran comfortably in trying to catch Nate. We eventually did as we came out onto the roads leading into Pretty House. We were all in good spirits and getting ourselves together for our first visit with the crews. Nate told me it was about 8:15 on his watch. I started thinking about the time. As I got into the station, Mike told me it was indeed 8:15 and I was right on time. I had to think about it for a minute realizing that I needed and wanted to be AHEAD of schedule to this point and not “on time.” Crap! I needed to pick it up a bit. We had spent the first 21 miles holding back and being patient, but I wasn’t comfortable with the outcome. It was time to get the game on. I looked around at what Mike had out for me at the station. Being by himself is certainly hard I’m sure and though I appreciated his help; it was a mess. He had out what I needed to have at the station and not what I needed to bring. I scrambled around in the back of his car to pick up the pieces of what he didn’t have ready for me. I felt bad but had to keep moving. I knew he’d get into the swing of things as the day wore on so I wasn’t upset or anything, but I did start to pray a little. As we headed out of the aid Station, Nate Jeff and I were still together and Paul was behind with his crew still. We handed Drew the pacifier to give to Paul when he came by before heading out.
(I Run into Pretty House)

Pretty House to Stage Rd:
I was determined to power up these first few up-hills out of Pretty House and coast the down hills over to Stage Rd. I left Nate and Jeff behind as I finally started to stretch the legs out, I really settled in and felt good. I knew what I wanted to accomplish out here and it was going to take some work in the heat and humidity to get it done. As I crested the top of Sound of Music Hill, the sun finally broke through, the fog lifted and it got HOT. I LOVE the heat and humidity, its like fresh gasoline to me and my engines were revving up. I was ready to go. I spotted Kevin Sayers on the top of the hill and know that if I was near him and could keep him in my sights, I was in good shape. So I followed along behind him all the way downhill into Stage Rd.
(Damon Lease offers support at Stage Rd)

Stage Rd to 10 Bears 1:
Drew told me Mats Roing was some 27 minutes ahead of me at this point. Its Mats first 100 Mile race. I knew a little bit about his training and also knew that 27 minutes ahead of me isn’t going to find him anything but ahurtin unit at some point or another. I told Drew I’d see him at 10 Bears and Drew Laughed. Mike had everything out perfectly at Stage Rd and was ready to go. Thank god! I knew he’d get back into the swing of things with crewing for me. I quickly grabbed what I needed and headed out down the rd. I feel great still and still haven’t bonked. I am so far having the time of my life, feeling great and running strong. I passed by John Holt who wasn’t looking so good but moving forward at least. I took the right turn and began the long exposed climb up the old Suicide Six. It was a long tough climb in the heat and my breathing picked up quite a bit.

I coasted down the hills playing leap frog with a few other runners along the way. At Rte 12 aid station I waited in line for ice cubes for my handheld bottles. I even took one for my mouth. I ate as much fruit as I could and carried on up the road. The next stretch of the course is filled with long long climbs and short downhills. My only plan was to patiently continue to work my way through these hills on my way to 10 Bears and to get there in one piece. There was plenty of time left for running and in this section, its not it. I made it into the aid station on Rte 106 and needed to stop again for a little alone time in the porta-potty. I wish I could figure my stomach distress out in these races as its stating to aggravate me greatly. Something isn’t working. In the porta potty it was so hot I swear to god I sweat off about 3 pounds of my body weight. I grabbed some Vaseline at the station, ate more fruit and headed off down the rd. I ran for a little while with a guy who was enjoying his first 100 Miler. Good for him!

We got off the pavement and back onto trails. The trail section here is gnarly and littered with roots and downed limbs. I pickd my way through and out onto Jenne Farm Rd. I ran with a woman from Clagary for a bit and told her about the blue pipes strung out through the trees used to collect maple sap and how it is later turned into Maple Syrup. She was so intrigued and I love sharing a bit of New England with someone who has never been here before.

After finally running through the Jenne Farm area where I enjoyed a gentle breeze, I headed down into 10 Bears finally and ready to continue on this amazing adventure. I weighed in at 150, -4 pounds so far and Dr. Glass gave me the OK to move on. I was having a blast. Visited with my crew who was ready to roll and Drew told me I had caught Mats Roing as I had predicted. Mats was in the medical tent nursing a sore knee with a bag of ice. He told me he was dropping out. “Maybe next time you won’t run like a bat out of hell Mats!” We laughed, shook hands and I asked if his pacer had someone else to pace. Adam Wilcox is one of my good hiking friends and was indeed still looking to hook up with a runner to pace. I told him Nate’s pacer couldn’t make it and could use the help. I grabbed more food, sucked down my gels and boost.. and headed off up the hill.
(My brother-in-law Mike and I at 10 Bears 1)

10 Bears 1 to Margarittaville:
The guys told me I had about 10 minutes on Nate and Jeff as I left 10 Bears. Going up the hill I saw that I had caught up to Kerry Owens of Massanutten lore. She started running and quickly stopped saying how she wasn’t really motivated today. She looked great either way as I continued on. At the bottom of the hill I saw Jim Lampman. I gave him a friendly hello and we talked about how he went out a bit too fast, and taking a while to realize his mistake. Such a delicate game to play against the clock in these races especially given the terrain and weather. Jim was in great spirits and ready to continue on to the finish line at whatever pace it took him. I greatly appreciate his enthusiasm for the sport and his dedication towards reaching the finish line.

I then made it to Agony Hill and slowly worked my way to the stop. I crested over and ran down into Pinky’s where the same folks who were checking off times at Lincoln Covered Bridge were now checking off times here. I asked a woman to please put some ice in my bottles and my hat before giving me one for my mouth to chew on. Another woman recorded my time and said, “Hey… you’ve really picked it up since LCB!” I told her I was on a mission and things are pretty close right now. I thanked them for their work and headed out.

As I worked down the trail a few horse riders caught up and walked beside me down the hill. They asked me all kinds of friendly questions about running these races, training, nutrition.. it was a lot of fun. I let them head out as we listened to the Thunderstorms rolling in. As I climbed the next hill, one of the locals was out with a hose for horses and runners. I had them dowse my hat with the cold water. The homeowner told us about the severe thunderstorm warning for the area siting the NWS with small hail, high winds and deadly lightning. GREAT! As I crested the hill and ran through another meadow, I could see the storm swirling over 10 Bears and the finish area of the course.. I knew I was going to luck out. I ran into Birmingham’s where the aid station volunteers debated my age. Always love this… I was out of there in a hurry but with all smiles. They were very nice folks and very helpful as were the rest. I cruised downhill as huge drops of water fell sporadically and soon a quick drenching shower took over as I ran the last quarter mile into Tracer Brook. As I entered the aid station the rain let up. I had dodged the bullet for sure as the sun was all ready starting to come back out. I looked for my crew but couldn’t find him as Pauls crew offered some assistance. I asked for gels and went for the aid table to pick at food. Then, there was Mike. Phew! I grabbed all that I needed again and told him I’d see him at Margarittaville after the long climb.

I left Tracer Brook and began the long climb up to Margarittaville which takes us up and over the highest point on the course. I’m still climbing wel and have yet to bonk. Last year at this point, I was hallucinating and having a tough time. This year I was enjoyed a calm breeze and being soaking wet from the torrential rain we had. I continued to plug along all the way up Prospect Hill. About half way up I saw a couple who was running together. The guy was giving up on Sub-24 and I told him he had plenty of time if he kept moving. His partner was in the woods, he sounded a bit dejected. I wished him well, offered encouragement and continued on finally making it into Margarittaville myself.

Mville to 10 Bears 2:
In the aid station I once again went to the restroom. I came out and enjoyed a Cheeseburger in paradise before consulting with my crew. I told them, “Its going to be close for sub 24.” They explained I was a little behind and there was only hope if I got moving. I knew I wanted to make it to West Winds before dark and it was the plan all along. I’ve been moving greatly all race long. Have yet to bonk, have a good cushion of time on my fellow friends (20 minutes now), and wanted the buckle. I stopped talking and just grabbed what I needed and told the guys I’d see them at 10 Bears. Drew said good bye for the night and off I went.

I mixed in a good bit of walking and running from Margarittaville to Browns School House. And I continued to feel really good realizing that despite having my back up against the wall with the sub 24-hour clock, I was having an exceptional race and a strong day. I ran into Browns and they asked what I needed and I replied, “I need to get the hell out of here.” They put ice in my handhelds, I grabbed some fruit, I thanked them and I was gone. I climbed the last bit of uphill and took the right ready for the long downhill heading back in towards 10 bears. I got a HUGE break with some horse riders. The Horses were running at my pace and I allowed them to pace me to the road section where they took off. I hit the dirt road, stretched quickly and took off for more downhill, turned left, chugged uphill, down the other side and ran into 10 Bears for the second time. I had just run the 8 miles from Margarittaville to 10 Bears in an hour and a half. It was 7:05pm and I still needed to get to West Winds before dark. Drew was shocked at how fast I got there and he gave me an “atta boy” before finally taking off. The update on the boys was that Nate was 30 Minutes behind me..

I sat in my chair and they fetched Dot Helling. Dot came over to say hi as did Bob Dunfey. I wanted to talk and talk and talk with these wonderful folks but I was on a mission. My bottles were refilled, I sucked down some gels and boost, lubed up, changed my socks and shoes, grabbed solid food to eat and I was gone in 4 minutes! I wanted the buckle bad. Mike had turned crewing duties over to my good friend Pete (whole be riding the VT50 in Sept), and took over as my pacer. Mike had never run further an 16 miles in his life but I was confident he could make it the 30 to the finish. We both had the heart and determination and that is exactly what I needed to get me to the promised land. We headed out and onward for West Winds.

10 Bears 2 to West Winds:
Mike and I quickly sank into conversation and really enjoyed the setting sun against the foggy and humid Vermont countryside. Mike was in awe at some of the properties we ran by and through. I think it kept him motivated early. I know I was still on a mission and doing my best to move briskly when I could. The pain in my quads was quickly growing to be pretty unbearable and running took some heavy calming breaths and meditation. We stopped only briefly at Seabrook still trying to beat the clock. We took to another trail section winding our way through the dark woods. Our headlamps went on as the woods were dark and the sky still getting there. We heard noise, kept pushing and popped out onto a road, we made it… West Winds at dusk and before dark.

Pete was set up like a pro and we got everything we needed… except the body glide.. where the hell is the body glide?! It was missing and Vaseline became the last minute lube of choice. I went to the aid table and asked if they had chicken noodle soup and they did.. a lady grabbed a cup hastily and I stopped her, “please, half the cup of soup the other half cold water.” She obliged and I’m glad she did.. the half cup of cold water cooled the soup to luke warm and it went down easy and quick so I could leave without having to carry the cup or wait for it to get cool. Mike was ready to go so out we went, down the hill and into the woods.
(West Winds before Dark)

West Winds to Bills:
The nighttime became tricky. The fog was so thick that our headlamps were almost considered useless. Not only was it tough to see but the moisture in the air was suffocating. I took it in stride as we continued to push on. I was again starting to have doubts in the prospect of finishing in under 24 hours, it was indeed going to be close. I’ve been running my butt off all day in trying to make it. Stomach issues, rocks in my shoes, everything… and it was me with my back up against the wall and the clock. Crap! I kept moving. We went up and down the sick and twisted roller coaster that is miles 77 to 88. Mike continued to be great company, striking up conversation and keeping me moving along. We continued to search for Bills Barn through the fog, wondering if any of the guys would ever catch me as I hoped they would. I didn’t want to be the only one with a buckle. We climbed a short hill where we saw a runner puking her guts out on the side of the road. I hoped she was ok. We took a turn and headed downhill where out of no where appeared cars… but where was the barn? The fog was so thick and the air so humid that you could only see Bills when standing within 50 yards or so of it. I walked to the barn and to the scale. I was tired and sore. As I lifted a leg to put it up on the scale, the combination of the two caused me to wobble a bit and the medical volunteer told me I was going to sit down for a bit. Damn! My weight was right on 154. I felt great, just tired and sore and he sat me down without ever even telling me why. I just agreed and sat. My grandfather sat in a wheelchair for 14 years and it was a goal of mine in this race to never sit. I sat to change my shoes.. and now I was sitting because.. well… I don’t know why. They fed me food as I watched this medical guy get ready to leave for the night. He circled the barn and tapped a few other volunteers on the shoulder, pointed at me sitting in the chair as he whispered in their ear. I was now getting pretty damn pissed. I understand the need to be cautious but from what I later discussed with other runners, they were taking “cautious” a bit too far out at Bills barn and I was a victim. Then I looked over and saw Adam… wait, “ Adam?!… is Nate here?” “Yeah man, he;s outside.” I peered through the barn door and there he was. I had 30 minutes on him at mile 70. 18 miles later, with 12 miles left in the race and here he was. The race suddenly changed. Nate came into the barn, “Why are you sitting.” I explained the situation to him and he started to flip, “GET UP! Get your ass out of the chair and lest go! They won’t tell you why you’re sitting then F them!” He was right, I saw a doctor in a black shirt and asked him if he would please check me out so I can get going. He listened to my heart and asked me a bunch of questions. My two favorite were, “Are you on any drugs?” my Answer: “Funny you should ask a guy running 100 miles if he is on drugs. No.. but do you have anything good?” His second question: “Have you done anything like this before?” “Yes doc, this is my 5th 100 miler in the last 365 days… can I go now?” He let me out and Nate and I left together with out pacers.

Bills to Pollys:
I went flying out of Bills barn at an amazing clip. We ran downhill and onto some trails, popped out into an open field and hauled ass down into the night. When I finally hit the next road I stopped and took a walk break. After hearing the time at Bills I knew it was a slim chance of us breaking 24. I told Nate, “Dude.. just finish” He snapped back, “What are you talking about.. we’re getting a buckle.” Every time I heard Nate’s voice behind us, or saw his light.. I started running. I was going to be damned if he beat me. I took off on him on all the up-hills and he caught up on the down hills. My pacer has now run further than he’s ever run in his life. He’s hanging in there but when I asked him if he was sore yet he replied with “yes.” This was turning out to be quite a battle between friends, the clock and myself. I was going to win it all however.. and I hustled as best I could. The hills were never ending and painful. Some of the uphill climbs slowed me to a crawl, causing me to stop periodically to catch my breath and try to stretch my legs. I was beat, sore and slowing down. Damn! I just need to keep moving. We rounded a corner and I knew where we were and then it appeared, Polly’s. We went right for Pete and grabbed just what we needed and did so quickly. I grabbed one more piece of banana when I turned back and saw Nate come into the aid station. He never stopped as we all took off once again together. We have one and a half hours to go 4.5 miles. In our current state, wrecked, sore, tired and racing the crap out of each other.. I wasn’t sure if it was doable… the first goal was to make it to that second to last aid station in a hurry.
(Nate... we gotta go! Polly's)

(To the finish! Leaving Polly's)

Pollys to Finish:
We have one and a half hours to go 4.5 miles. In our current state, wrecked, sore, tired and racing the crap out of each other.. I wasn’t sure if it was doable… the first goal was to make it to that second to last aid station in a hurry. Nate was running when I ran. When I walked he walked. We entered another gnarly woods section with plenty of mud from the days storms, trees down, limbs and roots everywhere and it slowed us down. I could see and hear Nate behind me.. so we kept moving. As we got out of the woods and back onto the roads, Mike and I moved uphill as I listened for Nate… then I heard him come out of the woods and let out a huge moan, I looked back and he was stopped with Adam trying to coach him right back into moving. Not far down the road was that last aid station, I didn’t stop and almost went the wrong way. I looked back for Nate and saw the course took a hard left behind the station.. Crap! We back tracked and got back on course and as we did, Nate had caught me… but I knew I had his number… the rest of the course.. the last 2 miles is all pretty much up hill. Nate was much slower on the up-hills and I knew I was going to beat him. It was so much fun to be bale to race someone towards the end and I really enjoyed the experience no matter which one of us was going to come out on top. I told Mike, “Ok.. I don’t care which one of us comes in first.. I just want Nate to get his buckle.” As I worked uphill, walked as fast as I could, I could hear my brother in law running. I thought he wanted to keep me moving. We had no idea what time it was… so I started to run. Then I’d stop form the pain and continue to walk. I’d hear him run again and so I’d pick it up. Then he said, “John,, I’m not trying to get you to run. I can’t keep up with your walking! So I have to run to catch up.” We had some short jokes but continued on. Then we saw a runner. He stepped out of the way and said, “You’ll make sub 24 bud! Its 23:30 now!” We saw the sign for 1/2 Mile left and I kicked it in. I ran as hard as I could down hill, the voices of the finish got louder. I gave a hoot into the night and the crowd responded with applause, cheering me in. I came hauling ass around the corner, started to run up that final hump when I heard, “What’s your number?” I yelled as tears rolled down my check, “Number One Hundred!” My arms raised, I ran across the line and fell to my knees. I had never run so much during a race. Never had my back against the clock for so long and I was wrecked. I did it again… 23 Hours and 37 Minutes for 100 Miles.

I gave hugs and thanked Pete and Mike for their help. I saw Barry, Nates brother and crew and told him he was coming soon. Many folks I knew gave me congratulations. I turned back to the finish and waited. First the guy who let us pass came through, and then I saw 2 headlights… there they were, Nate and Adam. We yelled and cheered them in. Nate crossed the line in 23:42, he was pumped, relieved and spent. It was downright hilarious how two runners; completely wrecked, sore, and chaffed could run each other into the ground into the finish. We inspired each other to that goal of getting a buckle… and we did it. My 6th 100-Mile Finish, the Long Trail Ale never tasted so damn good!

Jeff was pulled at mile 70 with a stress fracture in his tibia. But he convinced the doctors to let him continue. At mile 71 he had no choice but to drop. Paul suffered through a litany of circumstances but persevered and finished with a time of 29:41; when he crossed the finish line, he had the pacifier dangling from his pack. If anyone tells you Vermont is an Easy 100… THEY ARE WRONG! Over 120 people dropped out. I loved every minute of it.. all of the heat 90+ degrees and the 99% humidity.. I wouldn’t rather run in anything else than that! WAAA HOO!

It looks like I am done with 100 Milers for the year unless I can find one for November or December and afford to go. I’d love for nothing more. But for now, I must prepare for the Vermont 50 in September, where my buddy Pete and I are going to duke it out. Him on a bike and me on foot. Its going to be another epic race. I love this sport! Special thanks to Mike, Pete, Nate, Paul, Jeff, Joe Mama and all the countless volunteers who make it happen. Especially Dot Helling, Zeke Zucker, Mike Silverman, Joy Crossman, Bill Stillson, Jim Hutchinson, The amazing Julia and anyone I don't know about.

And thanks to my sponsors... without them the race would not have gone by with so much ease and enjoyment! Darn Tough Socks, Long Trail Ale, Brooks, Nuun, Peak Adventures, Nathan and Dreamchasers.


My Splits:
Start (0) to Pretty House (21.1) = 4:15 - 12:05mi pace
Pretty House (21.1) to Stage Rd (30.1) = 1:50 - 12:13mi pace
Stage Rd (30.1) to Camp 10 Bears 1 (47.2) = 1:30 12:16mi pace
Camp 10 Bears 1 (47.2) to Tracer Brook (57) = 2:20 14:17mi pace
Tracer Brook (57) to Margarittaville (62.1) = 1:15 14:42mi pace
Margarittaville (62.1) to Camp 10 Bear 2 (70.1) = 1:45 13:07mi pace
Camp 10 Bear 2 (70.1) to West Winds (77) = 1:53 16:22mi pace
West Winds (77) to Bills Barn (88.6) = 3:20 17:14mi pace
Bills Barn (88.6) to Pollys (95.5) = 2:04 17:58mi pace
Pollys (95.5) to Finish (100) = 1:12 16:14mi pace
All times are run time from Times IN to each aid station.
(Ex. Time IN to Pretty House to time IN to Stage Rd. All rest time is counted in the pace)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

VT100 Interview: Nathan Sanel

Nathan Sanel is an Ultra-Marathon runner from New Hampshire. He will be taking on this years Vermont 100 Mile Endurance Run as his first ever 100 Mile Ultra. Nathan has quite the storied athletic past that has wound its way into ultra-land; of which includes formerly holding the world record for the bunny hop on a bike. Here is Nathan's (Yellow Hat in photo) story:

Name: Nathan Sanel
Age: 39
Residence: Penacook, NH
Birthplace: Concord, NH
Occupation: Owner, National Powersports
Years Running: 3
Running and Other Accomplishments: Former Mountain Bike racer, Professional Snowboarder, Professional Motorcycle Racer.

Thanks for taking the time to speak with us Nate about yourself and the upcoming Vermont 100 Mile Endurance Run

SJ: Tell us a little bit about how you became an ultra-runner.
NS: A little less than 3 years ago I was noticing that I was putting on a little bit of weight around the middle. I had started a business and wasn't as involved with sports as I had been my entire life. All of the sports that I did involved a lot of equipment and travel time. Time was one thing that I just didn't have anymore. Running appealed to me because all I needed was a pair of shoes an shorts. I bought a pair of running shoes and ran twice around my neighborhood (2 miles). I could hardly walk after and I hurt for a week! I told my wife that this running thing sucked and she replied that I would be racing within months. Sure enough, I started to log my miles and then began racing. I turned to Ultras because I just want to keep going further.

SJ: What was your progression through the different race distances, did you run a marathon before an ultra?
NS: My first race was a ½ marathon in May, 2006. I had never even run with anybody! I did my first marathon 4 months later then my first 50k 3 months later in December. Last year I did 5 races with the longest being my first 50, the Vermont 50.

SJ: How has the sport treated you to this point?
NS: Remarkably well!! I love feeling strong and it is so fun learning what my body is capable of. I have suffered very few injuries and I still have lots to learn. I think that I enjoy the training quite a bit more than the racing.

SJ: How long do you see yourself participating in ultra-running?
NS: I don't really think about that. I move from goal to goal. I can't imagine not running, it helps me stay calm(er) throughout the day. I find that when I can't exercise I don't deal with life's little problems as well. I'm a pretty high strung guy, so it really helps.

SJ: Do you have a favorite race to this point?
NS: Not really. Every single one has been a fantastic journey. I have enjoyed them all. The ones that stand out are the ones where I have set a goal for myself and made the goal.

SJ: You've participated in a variety of journey runs and Fat Ass events, tell us about your favorite one of those.
NS: I love those runs! The best one was our Frozen Fatass Kankamangus run. Running that 35 miles in 1 degree weather at night was a trip! It was scary because when we would stop for more than a minute I would get really cold. It was actually pretty dangerous and that added to the thrill. My camelback freezing added a interesting twist as well. I kept thinking that there was a car behind us because the moon was so bright!

SJ: So tell us a little about your Vermont 100 Run... when and why did you decide to take on the 100 Mile Distance and in Vermont?
NS: I think that I started planning for it as soon as I finished the VT50. Thats the way I work. “Ok, now I know that I can run 50 miles, I need to tackle 100” I have been training pretty hard, and have increased my mileage quite a bit over last year. I have also run a lot more races this year and I have had some pretty good results. As far as which 100 to tackle first, VT100 is an obvious choice. I have seen the area and have a pretty good idea what to expect. It also seems like one of the easier 100's so that helps my mental game going into it.

SJ: Are you running for any charities?
NS: In the past I have run for the ATCP (Ataxia Telangicstasia Childrens Project). I held a charity event at my shop and combined it with my runs at Disney (The Goofy challenge). I raised a little over $10,000 for the project. I'm going to do it again this year. I am not running VT for any charities.

SJ: Supposing you are nervous.. what are you nervous about the most?
NS: Of course I'm nervous, but it is a good nervous energy. I use that energy to make sure I'm prepared and to not slack on my training. I am probably most nervous about my feet hurting.

SJ: What previous running experiences will you take with you through to the finish line?
NS: I've never DNF'd and don't plan to now. I'm pretty determined and even though I've never done the distance I will bring the same determination that I took with me every time I have tackled a new distance in the past.

SJ: Buckle or Plaque?
NS: What, are you kidding me? Buckle.

SJ: Do you have a time goal or ANY goals for that matter?
NS: I'd like to say that my goal is to just finish, but that would be B.S. My goal is to finish my first 100 in sub 24.

SJ: Who is your pacer and who is your crew?
NS: My pacer is Greg Stone, who is an amazing runner and super nice guy. My crew consists of my wife Amy, who is the most supportive person in the world, and my brother Barry who has no idea what he is in for.

SJ: What is your overall race strategy?
NS: Go out at 7 minute miles and see how long I can last....LOL. I know that I need to be very careful about going out to quickly. At this point I'm going to plan on an easy 10 hour 50 and go from there.

SJ: What are you excited about the most?
NS: The entire thing. I've been completely obsessed. I constantly scour the web for race reports and any tidbit of information that I can use to help me on this journey.

SJ: Will you be camping or staying in a local hotel or Inn?
NS: I'll be staying in my travel camper.

SJ: Any other 100 Milers that interest you?
NS: All of them. I'm sure that after this one I'll look for a “tougher” one to do. I also have been toying with just taking off on a Friday night and running all weekend to see how far I get with the goal of at least 100 miles. Sort of a “Fat-Ass 100”. I love the idea of going on a journey and seeing where it will take me.

SJ: We wish you the very best of luck in your endeavor Nate and we WILL see you at the finish line.
NS: Thanks for all the help John. I have enjoyed training with you and going on our wacky long runs!

Note: Due to an untimely passing of a family member, Nates wife Amy will not be attending the race as a member of Nathan's crew. Our deepest sympathies and condolences go out to her and her entire family in this time of grief.

Monday, July 14, 2008

VT100 Interview: Paul Kearney

Paul Kearney is a young ultra-runner from Vermont taking on the Vermont 100 this weekend as his first 100 Mile Run. I had the opportunity to talk to him about his running past, present and future and here it is:

Name: Paul Kearney
Age: 27
Residence: Burlington, VT
Birthplace: Hanover, NH
Occupation: Attorney
Years Running: About 15 years, since 7th grade cross-country, with periods of more or less intensity as I was lost in the grip of other sports- rowing, climbing, paddling, etc.
Running and Other Accomplishments/Hobbies: About a dozen marathons and the same number of ultras. Other hobbies- lately, hiking, riding and tinkering with my motorcycle.

Thanks for taking the time to speak with us Paul about yourself and the upcoming Vermont 100 Mile Endurance Run

SJ: Tell us a little bit about how you became an ultra-runner.
PK: I had trained pretty hard for the Vermont City Marathon in 2006 while living in Ithaca, NY. We had a pretty mild winter that year so I was out on the track doing mile repeats all winter and I was feeling really fit, really hideously strong. I saw a sign for a local trail race, the Finger Lakes 50s, and figured I could cruise through the 50k and would still do really well based on the times I saw on the website from previous years. Boy, was that naive. I was excited to jump into the longer distance, which I don't think I had ever really considered before, but of course, I pulled the classic rookie move of going out way too fast, not eating enough, and crashing hard near the end. The scene was great, though. They have a fantastic party after with a great chicken BBQ. Everyone was so social, friendly, and they all seemed to know each other. This must really be a special race, I thought, a special crowd. Turns out, those very same people, that very same crowd, shows up at just about every race within 1000 miles. That circle of friends, the extended family of ultrarunners, is the primary difference between ultras and road races in my mind, even more so than the contrast between road and trails. We are a family and after a year or so in the sport, you know these people like surrogate parents and siblings.

SJ: What was your progression through the different race distances, did you run a marathon before an ultra?
PK: Yes, I had run two marathons before my first 50k. I went to high school in the Boston area and was totally immersed in the magic surrounding the Boston Marathon. I wanted to be a marathoner and was still training hard as a marathoner when I got into trail races. After the first one, I just kept looking for longer and harder races. I keep putting off training for that 2:40 attempt to run the next trail race. I ran the Finger Lakes 50s 50k a second time, then ran the Jay Challenge 50k++ up in northern Vermont, my first 50-miler at the Vermont 50 last year, then followed it with another 50-miler at Stonecat and then David Horton's 100k++ at Hellgate in December. More 50ks were thrown in there, and even training runs of 30-40 miles. By the time I had run Jay, I had just seen you run Vermont last year and had decided I wanted to run a 100, so I set off on this crusade of 40-50-60 mile races with an eye for preparing myself for anything I might see on the course at the Vermont 100 this year.

SJ: What is your marathon PR and when was it?
PK: 3:02, that Vermont City Marathon before my first Finger Lakes, in 2006. I was pretty convinced I could have run 2:55, but it was a scorcher of a day, as you surely remember, and although I held on enough to go to Boston, sub-3 slipped away at the end. Given the conditions, I wasn't dissapointed at all, though. I just kept pushing through the pain at the end, telling myself over and over like a mantra, "Hold on, keep going, you're going to Boston. Cold beer ahead. Hold on, keep going, you're going to Boston..."

SJ: How has the sport of ultra-running treated you to this point?
PK: It has enriched my life beyond description. I've travelled around the country, met the most wonderful, giving, caring and generous people.

SJ: How long do you see yourself participating in ultra-running?
PK: I hope to do it forever. I will probably race a lot less in the future, though. I'm starting a new job in the fall as a lawyer at a big firm, which will mean a lot more hours, so that's a lot of energy I will be directing elsewhere. I hope to keep racing my favorite races, say 5 a year, but I will definitely be stepping back from my race every three weeks pace I hit now and then.

SJ: Do you have a favorite race to this point?
PK: They're all so different that it's a tough call, but I think the Vermont 100 is going to be special. There was a magic feel to the air in some of those evening aid stations and the sense of shared struggle and camaraderie at a 100 I expect to be out of this world. I loved the unapologetic brutality of the Pittsfield Peaks race, and the Jay Challenge, though. It's great to go to a race where the course designed really tried to challenge you, to make something where more than just the distance makes it difficult, even to the point of trying to break you down mentally. Hellgate didn't have to try to be hard. The terrain took care of that. But when a race gets just a bit contrived and stupid, it really tests your mental strength. None of those hills you cretins threw in at the end of Pittsfield were especially nasty- but it was infuriating to be handed them at that stage in the game. Well done. :O)

SJ: What is the toughest Ultra you've completed?
PK: Well, there are tough races, and there are races at which you have a very tough day. Hellgate was both for me. I wasn't taking in enough calories and I was continually bonking on a very hard, mountainous course. I have never wanted to quit so bad, and I have never been a quitter at anything. I've never dropped out of a race, but at mile 60 I was completely willing to get in the car and drive away, despite having driven 800 miles to get there. That was a tough day. Jill gave me a push in the right direction, though, so despite empty tanks and explosive poo-tastrophies, I crammed down some food and hammered it home, pulling myself out of DFL on the last climb, passing about six folks, and finishing strong. Only a sense of fury at the idea of running so far and not getting a finisher's shirt kept me going. I was awash in frustration and anger at the course, and it served its purpose beautifully. Your mind is so far gone at these races that intangible reasons for running are worthless. You don't want to just be a finisher or to have challenged yourself. These things carry no sway on the mind that has been suffering for ten hours and is telling you to quit and go home. You need something literally tangible to focus on. That's the magic of the buckle. You can get yourself to do anything for an actual prize, especially one you can wear with pride for the rest of your life, rather than one you hang on the pile on the doorknob.

SJ: So tell us a little about your Vermont 100 Run... when and why did you decide to take on the 100 Mile Distance and in Vermont?
PK: When I crewed for you last year, Sherpa, it just blew me away. Driving home after the two-day epic of crewing and pacing, I was overwhelmed by all that I had seen. The emotional journey through all that pain and those excruciating moments of particular difficulty, to come through it all with this feeling of triumph and accomplishment at the end- it was just too good not to want a bite of it myself!

SJ: So as one of my pacers in the 2007 VT100 and the 2008 Massanutten, what thoughts come to your mind about the experience you took away from those times?
PK: I think that a familiarity with some of the aid stations, the topography, and the feel of the race at Vermont will be valuable. Seeing how tough those last few miles are at both races will be a good reminder to conserve energy early on. Also, seeing the destruction sleep-deprivation can cause was a very, very valuable lesson. I learned that your body doesn't need sleep nearly so much as your mind needs it. Allowing your mind to sleep for 20 minutes can make you a new person. That was the biggest lesson at MMT.

SJ: Supposing you are nervous.. what are you nervous about the most?
PK: There is certainly an aspect of the unknown to this race. Hellgate was so utterly different than a 50-miler, and the distance was part of it. I tend to be pretty low-maintenance during most races, not needing new shoes or clothing. Rarely do I have major problems with my food or gear. But with the 100-mile distance, who knows? I am going to try to take care of myself especially well physically, and pay very close attention to my emotions to keep a handle on my mental condition, too. I've run a lot of trail miles, but I can't really say I know what it's going to be like out there after 80 miles, after 90. That's a bit intimidating, but I'll always remember that first 50k, and realizing that the mental leap from "I don't think I could ever do that" to "I bet I can do that- I'm gonna try" is so much more difficult than the actual race itself. Once you get there, you just keep shoving food in your face and moving forward on your feet. That part is easy. It's signing up and toeing the line that can be impossible for some people.

SJ: What previous running experiences will you take with you through to the finish line?
PK: When I set out to train for this race, everyone said, "There's no book, there's no plan, you just have to figure it out." I have run every race I could get myself to just to absorb the skills I needed for this race. Every race has taught lessons on pace, fuel, water, salt, mental strength. I have learned that my legs will keep going as long as I am willing to make them go and I give them energy to burn. It has been a tremendous journey, and I am looking forward to this supreme test.

SJ: Buckle or Plaque?
PK: I'd look pretty silly trying to hold my pants up with a plaque, now wouldn't I? I have no interest in a plaque.

SJ: Do you have a time goal or ANY goals for that matter?
PK: Well, friends with tremendous confidence in my abilities have told me I have the potential to go under 20 hours. That would be pretty neat to do some day, to break a barrier like that and put up a performance that I could marvel at for the rest of my life. But I don't think that's what this day will be about. I'm not really looking to push my performance limits in this first experience at the distance. Going under 24 is a definite goal- that is what I'm doing here. But I've seen that you can be pretty relaxed and still get there. Having a solid, consistent day, with no major disasters is much more important to me than a killer time.

SJ: Who is your pacer and who is your crew?
PK: My girlfriend Jill and my buddy Bret will be crewing, with off-and-on help from my dad and other family members. Bret is pacing from mile 70, but the last 12 miles belong to Jill. She has wanted to run the end with me since the beginning, and there's no one I'd rather have there.

SJ: What is your overall race strategy?
PK: Start slow and ease off from there. :O) Seriously, I am approaching this just exactly like any other race. I'm going to go at a moderate pace, walk the hills, and eat everything I can get my hands on. I hope that I come through the 50 in about 11 hours, but it will probably be more like 9 hours, despite my desire to go slow, if your race last year is any indication. I'd rather run an even pace than slow to a crawl at the end, but I don't know how realistic that is- it's too easy to run too fast at the beginning, and the race is too long not to slow down a lot at the end. I guess just keeping it reasonable on both ends is all you can ask for.

SJ: What are you excited about the most?
PK: My freakin' buckle. It's sitting in a box somewhere right now, wrapped in gauze, waiting for me. I just have to go get it.

SJ: Will you be camping or staying in a local hotel or Inn?
PK: Camping the night before and after. It's a great field and who wants to drive anywhere after the race?

SJ: Any other 100 Milers that interest you?
PK: All of them. But one at a time and in slow succession. Massanutten was a quality, quality course and a great experience to behold. And that damn gorgeous buckle... That might be next year's race. :O)

We wish you the very best of luck in your endeavor Paul and we can't wait to share a Long Trail Ale with you at the finish line.
Good Luck!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

VT100 Interview: Jeffrey Waldron

Coverage of the 20th running of the Vermont 100 Mile Endurance Run continues!
If you've missed anything, you can check out previous posts by clicking their link below or by scrolling down below this post:
VT100 Interview - Dot Helling
2006 VT100 Pacer Report
Vermont 100 - Countdown

Name: Jeffrey Waldron
Age: 22
Residence: Rindge, NH
Birthplace: Concord, MA
Occupation: Student, part time work at a liquor store
Years Running: 2 ½
Running and Other Accomplishments/Hobbies:
Hmmm when looking back on things I am proud to have been co-captain of the varsity baseball and soccer teams in high school along with my twin brother. Our soccer team made the playoffs for the first time in the schools history, pretty cool moment. Other hobbies include hiking, kayaking, mountaineering, ice climbing, and ofcourse clif jumping with my friends

Thanks for taking the time to speak with us Jeff about yourself and the upcoming Vermont 100 Mile Endurance Run.

SJ: Tell us a little bit about how you became an ultra-runner.

JW: Becoming a runner in general happened by complete chance. As a freshman at Bryant University I was lifting a lot and gaining a ton of muscle, but in turn I was losing my quickness and athletic look. Out of all people, my janitor, a Laotian man named Kham, suggested for me to go on a run with him in order to drop some pounds. Well, one run led to another, 2 miles turned into 3, 4, 5 and before I knew it I was hooked. It turns out Kham has ran over 90 marathons with a 2:41 PR, yikesss, I didn’t know what I was getting into. After months of training I ran the Applefest Half Marathon and got cooked by the hills. However, I loved it, and ran the Breakers marathon with a big ol’ cast on my arm as my first marathon. After learning the ropes about training and nutrition, as well as how to pace (they called me bat out of hell before lol) I was able to run the 2007 Boston Marathon. It was definitely one of the best moments of my life. However, the roads always beat me up, and I began running trails more and more, and the trails became my haven. I officially became an ultrarunner at the 2007 Vermont 50 where I was lucky enough to meet the crazy guy conducting this interview (Sherpa John) as well as Nate Sanel and Paul Kearney, all great guys who I love to laugh and train with.

SJ: What was your progression through the different race distances, did you run a marathon before an ultra?
JW: Before running the Vermont 50 (my first ultra) I ran the Breakers marathon in fall 2006, Boston Marathon in 2007, and the Jay ½ Marathon in the summer of 2007. All these races gave me a nice base for ultras, and the road marathons allowed me to realize that running on trails is where I want to be.

SJ: What is your marathon PR and when was it?
JW: As of now my official marathon PR is 3:33 at Boston in 2007, but I’ve ran the Hyannis Course unofficially in 3:08 for a bib

SJ: How has the sport of ultra-running treated you to this point?
JW: I’m lucky to have fallen into this sport, I learn something new on every run, and especially at every race. No offense to anyone, but ultrarunners have a great hold on life, they aren’t out there cramming numbers in there heads every second, franting over mile splits, elbowing for start position, etc etc they are social people who love being outdoors and I can’t get enough of these people. It’s very cool to meet random people at different races and after talking to them for a few minutes, a once completely random person is now offering you a place to stay out in CO or CA for example. It’s the kindness and care I never experienced in road racing, and in turn I try and keep my arms open to people as well. Also, I love the small, tight knit community, and how many races are runner’s races where all the volunteers understand what you want and need, and why on Gods earth you are running 50 miles haha.

SJ: How long do you see yourself participating in ultra-running?
JW: As long as I can move forward. I’ve already had runners knee, patella tendonitis, and battled those injuries with my eye on the future so whatever is thrown at me I will get through it. My goal is to always finish, even I have to crawl across the finish line, so I want to be running for life.

SJ: Do you have a favorite race to this point?
JW: By far my favorite race has been the Pittsfield Peaks 53 Miler. The course is very challenging, and favors hikers so it’s the perfect race for me. Also, I conducted my volunteer work for the VT100 at this course, so after running parts of this course twice, I feel attached to this race and have began to love the difficulty of this race.

SJ: What is the toughest Ultra you've completed?
JW: Definitely the Pittsfield Peaks 53 Miler because it was a killer hot day, and the course is unforgiving. Tons of climbs and switchbacks that you think will never end, but boy does it feel sweet when you peak out on some of those mountains. My best moment in the race came climbing one of the last peaks where I was just in the zone and hiking the thing like I was on an escalator lol, pretty sweet moment. Toughest part in the race came climbing/descending the last section called the “hell section” where I had some killer quadriceps cramps. I ran the race with Sherpa John, and Nate Sanel, so after a tough 12:20 on the course, it was a great feeling to finish a tough course with your buds.

SJ: So tell us a little about your Vermont 100 Run... when and why did you decide to take on the 100 Mile Distance and in Vermont?
JW: I decided to tackle the 100 mile distance shortly after running the Vermont 50 in the fall because the distance is a great challenge. I love being challenged, and what’s better than trying to run 100 miles? Also, I gotta give credit to DK after reading his book Ultramarathon Man, it is truly inspiring, but definitely one of the best moments that made me want to run a 100 miler was seeing Krissy Moehls ’07 finish at the Hardrock 100. I say this because she laid it all out and her emotions signify the amazing feats one can accomplish if you follow your heart. Definitely someone I look up to in ultrarunning and would love to hopefully meet her one day. I chose Vermont because it is close to home, and being a college student, I am lacking the moola it takes to run a race out west! However, once Vermont is over I’m hoping to run the Grand Teton 100 because I’ve never been out west and am dying to see the trails and utter beauty. Well see if I can scrounge up enough quarters from the sofas lol.

SJ: You were recently in a serious car accident and have rebounded from it greatly, tell us about the accident and how things have been since it happened.
JW: Yea the car accident happened on a Tuesday, when the Pittsfield 53 Miler was on that Saturday, so I was pretty upset about the whole situation at the beginning. I was coming home from work and an 80 year old lady simply pulled out on me from 10 feet away when I was doing 40 so not much I could do to avoid the crash. In short, car was totaled, I got ambulanced out of there, diagnosed with internal swelling and a bruised rib cage, and couldn’t lift a thing for a couple days. But, I just stayed positive and focused on being mentally prepared for this race regardless of my situation. I showed up for the race buzzing off ibuprofen and just powered through it with Nate and Sherpa, what a turn of events to be in a hospital bed on Tuesday to crossing the finish line of one of the hardest 50 milers on Saturday! I’m all good now, I am definitely blessed to have recovered so quickly, guess the ultra Gods are looking out for me!

SJ: Supposing you are nervous.. what are you nervous about the most?
JW: I am more excited than nervous for the race, but if I had to pick something to be nervous about it would be my pace. The course is definitely a runner’s course, so I’m just worried about going out too hard, and getting wrapped up in another runners race. My gameplan is to do what I always do though: run my own race, stay consistent, be patient, leave a lot for the finish, and be tough as nails. In the end, we’ll have to see what happens, but as always goal # 1 is to just finish, especially since it’s my first hundred.

SJ: What previous running experiences will you take with you through to the finish line?
JW: I have grown a lot since I started running a little over two years ago. Specifically, I am leaving a lot more for the finish by starting slow, and my race mentally has done a total 360. I used to get bummed out seeing a big hill or long switchback for example, but now I use those situations to remind myself why I am out there. To run for life, to run for those who can’t run, and to push myself to limits that I never thought possible. I am running for the American Cancer Society, so I will have all those less fortunate than me in my mind while running. Also, I run for my twin brother who is my best bud, and he will be in my mind as he will be in Washington training with the Army. My favorite quote to recite while doing ultras is “tough times don’t last, but tough people do.”

SJ: Buckle or Plaque?
JW: Buckle, leaving it all out there. But if no buckle, its ok, it’s not the end of the world.

SJ: Do you have a time goal or ANY goals for that matter?
JW: Goal #1 is to always finish, goal # 2 is to go sub 24

SJ: Who is your pacer and who is your crew?
JW: I have my uncle, Richard Miller, who runs the NE mountain series, pacing me for miles 70-85, and one of my buddies Matt Smith, pacing me miles 85-100. My crew consists of those two guys, as well as my parents.

SJ: What is your overall race strategy?
JW: My strategy is to start slow, and to leave a lot for the finish so that I can actually run in the later miles. I’m going to run my own race, work on getting in and out of aid stations because there are so many of them at the VT100 and that’s a place where I do not want to lose a lot of time. Also, I’m just going to break things down like usual, one aid station to the next, run to see my crew next, and just keeping moving forward. Walk all the hills and focus on a quick turnover. I try to keep things simple, and love to eat so if you see my downing pizza at an aid station, pull me out of there!

SJ: What are you excited about the most?
JW: I’m excited to see my crew at least 8 times during the race because they provide me with a huge boost while running, and they can push me even when I look like complete crap during the race. I’m also looking forward to running at night because it’ll be the first time during a race. Also, just stoked about the finish, the excitement and adrenaline of finishing a 100 miler is definitely the thing I’m most excited about.

SJ: Will you be camping or staying in a local hotel or Inn?
JW: I’ll be camping at Silver Meadow with my two pacers (Rich and Matt) so if you see an older guy who looks like he’s from Hawaii (Rich), a young guy with red hair (Matt), or a kid shaking like a leaf (Me) say hello! haha

SJ: Any other 100 Milers that interest you?
JW: Oh for sure, I’m definitely going to try and tick off almost all the hundreds out there, some just don’t interest me as much as others though. But I love the brutal ones, where hiking comes into play and pure endurance, so the top three have to be Hardrock, Grand Tetons, and Wasatch.

We wish you the very best of luck in your endeavor Jeff and we WILL see you at the finish line.

Thanks SJ, goodluck to everyone else running or pacing!
Good Luck!

Jeff is running on behalf of the American Cancer Society and you can donate to his cause by visiting his First Giving Page at:

Saturday, July 12, 2008

VT100 Interview: Dot Helling

Dot Helling is a Vermont resident who is also on the Vermont 100 Mile Endurance Run Race Committee. She's agreed to talk with us a little about the race as we continue to get ready for the events 20th Anniversary.

SJ: Thanks for talking with us Dot.

SJ: How long have you been a member of the race committee?
DH: I think I've been on and off the committee for over 15 years, and always a runner consultant. I have been "on the scene" virtually every year as a runner, pacer, crew, aid station captain and/or volunteer.

SJ: Now you actually won the VT100 in 1997 with a time of 19:33:35; tell us what that was like.
DH: I was age 47 and it was a highlight of my running career, especially since I was running my own race with a goal of breaking 20 hours and ignoring the competition. It wasn't until I came into Bill's at 88 miles that I found out I was a top contender. (I kept telling my crew all day that I did not want to know what was happening in the race but they were keeping track.) My friend Julie Arter was sitting on the sideline not feeling well. She had been in 2nd place to Ellen McCurtin who was now the only woman still in front of me. I could not believe it and got all pumped up and started racing down the road. I was with my best friend and often pacer Diane McNamara. Her husband at the time Fred Pilon was crew and he came storming after us to say, slow down, there are still 12 miles, stick to your race plan, don't blow up now. So I settled down and Diane and I moved on into the night feeling pretty confident we would break the 20 hour barrier. I ended up passing Ellen at about 96 miles, then she passed me, then I passed her again on an uphill at about 98.6, broke my 20 hour mark and won. Most special of all is that I was the first Vermonter to take an overall win. Two other Vermont women (Sue Johnston and Mary Churchill) have won but we are still waiting for a first place from a Vermont man. I want that to happen this year in celebration of our 20th!!!!

SJ: What does the 20th Anniversary of this race mean to you?
DH: The Vermont 100 is one of the original 100's and is now the only 100 that still features a simultaneous endurance ride. What VASS does to support disabled athletes and what the VT100 has done to give New England and the East Coast a premier ultra event is huge. I believe that VT100 opened the ultra doors for Easterners and particularly since VT100 is part of the Grand Slam. Also, VT100 offers an incredible slice of Vermont. It has been 20 years of getting better and better and "bringing it home" - from what was only a small handful of Vermonters who participated in ultras, the VT100 has been important to the growth in Vermont of ultras and the creation of many, many Vermont ultrarunners who have gone on to become nationally and internationally competitive. It is cause for celebration!

SJ: To your knowledge, will Jeff Washburn be starting in the event?
DH: Yes, Jeff is starting. We gave him a complimentary entry.
(Jeff had the most starts in VT100 history as of 2007. Last year, he suffered a stroke while running with friends in Massachusetts. We look forward to seeing him at the starting line and going a few miles.)

SJ: Over the years, what have you found to be what works that keeps the race going?
DH: The people, our volunteers. The volunteers will do anything in their power for the runners. One year my friend Errol Jones was in need of some real food and he could find nothing to satisfy his palate in the aid station. He's a vegetarian and quite particular about his diet. A volunteer asked what he wanted. He said pasta with a bit of marinara. At the next aid station, she delivered. He went on to a great race.

SJ: In your opinion, what future improvements are needed to ensure the races success?
DH: That's a loaded question I really can't answer. We are constantly working on whatever feedback we get from the runners and to keep the community support behind us. Key to this event is working cooperatively with the private property owners, respecting their rights, and keeping the trails available for the run. The committee also keeps working on restoring more single track. With development and other factors, many of the original trails have been improved into roadways, lost to our use etc. The trail committee tries to restore trail and minimize dirt roads as much as possible. The committee has been very successful minimizing any need to go onto pavement, and the little bit there now is can be avoided by running the shoulders.

SJ: How difficult is it to get the hundreds of land owner permissions for the race?
DH: Race volunteers work on this year round. It is all about relationships. The horse folks are key players in this as are the veteran race founders and organizers like Laura Farrell, Bill Stillson and Sue Greenall.

SJ: It was rumored that last years course was 102, 104 miles long... how long was it?
DH: I don't really know. I'm told by our GPS guy that it is now 100 miles "or so." You'll have to ask Zeke Zucker that question. When I ran the new course two years ago it felt really long to me, but what do I know? I'm older and not as well trained as I used to be when I ran these things in the 80's and 90's.

SJ: How beneficial has the service requirement been to the race and other races in the area?
DH: I think it's great. I think it gets runners who don't think about volunteering cause to realize that giving back to the sport can be satisfying as well as a huge help to events. I know for a fact that VT100 runners are volunteering for local events that have desperately needed volunteers in the past, so we are providing a pool. I just wish those runners who seek out alternatives to doing the service work we intend for them to do would stop trying to beat the system and just "give back" from their hearts.

SJ: Tell us more about the 100K; where will these folks run?
DH: Well, it's a great course. It's basically the VT100 without the Ten Bear Loop. Talk about an incentive to do the 100K. It's the best of the best of the course with a two mile add on at the end. No hammering your way through that endless Ten Bear loop.

SJ: Is the 100K likely to stay for future events or is this a one year only kind of thing?
DH: We'll see. Depends on how much the runners like it. We intend for it to stay on if all works out.

SJ: Can you tell us about anything else unique we'll see this year to celebrate the 20th Anniversary?
DH: We're hoping to bring back the fireworks of the early days for the start line. Jim Hutchinson (RD) is still working on some permit and property owner issues, particularly since they would be set off between 3:30-4am. We have an amazing long sleeve Patagonia technical shirt for the runners with an anniversary graphic front and back. For the first time, the equestrian riders are getting their own shirt. We also have a written program with historical information on the event for the first time, and some great retail items.

SJ: Where will you be on race day?
DH: In the field, running. Hoping to buckle and not whine too much.

SJ: Dot, we appreciate all you have done for us over the years as a member of the VT100 Staff. We wish you the very bes tof luck in this years race and look forward to seeing you at the finish line.

DH: Thanks so much Sherpa, and particularly for letting this old body tag along on some of your training runs. I love that so many of you younger folks are so enthusiastic and doing so much for ultras in Vermont and New England. Keep up the great running!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

2006 - VT100 - Pacer Report

If anyone is free the weekend of July 19th and in the New England Area... if you want to get some hands on experience at the 100 Mile Distance as a CREW MEMBER... I am in need of a crew for this years VT100 Mile Endurance Run. I have a pacer all ready.. we just need more crew members to work through the day and night on the 19th-20th. I am only looking for individuals who can dedicate themselves to the entire event which means Friday the 18th - Sunday the 20th. You will be awake from 3am Saturday the 19th until the race ends on Sunday the 20th. All I can promise you is a shirt and a great time with a front row seat into the world of 100 mile running. Please e-mail me if interested:
(Below is the report I wrote following my first time as a pacer at the 2006 Vermont 100 Mile Endurance Run.)

To read my 2007 Race Report: CLICK HERE

Saturday Afternoon, Sarah and I fought traffice and headed for North Conway to book our reception locale for our wedding. We also visited a nearby church to get the info on having our ceremony there. I had nothing to eat all morning... just a Luna Bar. So after parting ways with Sarah, I stopped at Burger King and got myself a burger before heading off to Vermont.

Now the plan was to drive 2 1/2 hours to Vermont.. to meet up with Drew in Woodstock, VT. From there we would make our way to one of the aid stations for the Vermont 100 Mile Endurance Run. Yes... people were running 100 Miles in Vermont and trying to do so in under 24 hours OR at most under 30. This is just ONE of 38 such events nationwide. It is a dream of mine to one day win a silver buckle.. which is what a runner receives for finishing the run in under 24 hours. I have 2 races on my mind.. Next years VT 100 and the Western States 100. So today was just a day for doing homework.

We made our way down into South Woodstock to the Camp 10 Bear aid station. Runners had all ready run through this station once at Mile 44.7 and then a SECOND time at mile 68.7 of their 100 Mile Run. We were looking for a Pittsfield, VT man named Joe Desena. We had been in shotty contact with Joe for the last week ro so trying to figure out if he needed a pacer and if so.. where he would need him. So we waited at Camp 10 Bear for Joe.. and we never saw him. Drew and I walked about the checkpoint and watched each runners crew go to work on them as they entered. Each runner would weigh in (to monitor weight Loss), see the doctor and then head over to a seat where their crew refilles their bottles and shoves food in their faces.

At about 7PM I overheard a woman talking to a race official. "My runner is #82 and she needs a pacer badly." The official looks over his clipboard and sees only ONE pacer available. He calls out his name and there is NO answer. So I jumped up and offered to pace the young lady, figuring i could do so for a while anyway. I figured on running maybe 18 to 20 miles with her. The race official starts asking me questions about my credentials and then he says, "OH... so you're going to run with her to the end?" And as I was in the middle of the " ahhh wa, bwuah.. ummm.." Drews answers for me with a "Sure... He's Sherpa John.. He's all over it!"
I looked like a Deer in headlights.. .. it is just after 7PM... and I'm about to pace a runner 32 Miles through the Vermont Countryside... AT NIGHT.

I went to my car and threw on my running gear much like Clark kent in a phone Both. (I'm no superman by any means). I put Drew to work filling my bottles and snagging me some food. Afterall... I was COMPLETEY unprepared for this. Running a 50K takes some prep.. usually TONS of carbs the day BEFORE and then the morning of... all I ate today was a Luna Bar and BK! UGH! what was I thinking! We were ready to go and walked back up to the aid station. Drew asked what runner it was and when I found her I pointed and hesitently said, " That woman there.. breast feeding her baby."

7:15PM. Claire and I introduced ourselves. She is 29 year's old and a mother of 2 from Reno, Nevada. She had NO clue how bad New Englands humidity could REALLY be and she was unaware that the terrain really is rolling hills forever and ever. This was her THIRD attempt at a 100 Mile Endurance run.. she did not finish the other two. I learned something else about Claire which you'll have to wait for till the end for... She gave me instructions on how she wanted to be paced. I had no clue WHAT I was doing.. I had never paced anyone before. But alas.. I went to work.

It was now Claire's 69th Mile and my 1st. For the rest of the night we would trudge along the countryside, her in unimaginable pain and I... in pain with no right to complain given the circumstance of my new running partner. Drew left in my car headed for the Aid station at Mile 76.7 (West Winds). I hoped to find him there and knowing he would be was great motivation. Drew would end up making an AWESOME Crew chief. In the meantime.. Claire struggled over a MASSIVE hill. She was in what is known as a "low" or "bonking." Pretty much.. she was exhausted not only physically... but mentally. I tried my best to talk to her and keep her mind off of the pain. But... it is difficult when you are both perfect strangers. We made it to an aid station at Mile 72... after she was certain it did not exist... and I made her sit down. Here she drank some broth and had a PB and J. I... ate whatever I could find... I was famished!

As we continued on towards West Winds.. we walk through a hillside pasture and watched the sun set to our west over the Green Mountains. We HAD to stop and take it in... it was an emotional moment, and simply breathtaking. We then put on our headlamps and continued on through the course except now.. it was night time and we still have 28 Miles to go. I had NEVER run ALL night before. But hey... homework is what I came for.. and Homework is what I was doing... to its highest extent.

The course zigged and zagged down logging and snowmobile trails all night long. If we were lucky we hit a dirt road and were able to get some good running in. Otherwise, we mostly powerwalked and shuffled. Claire and I made our way to West Winds where we found drew and a whole slew of crews waiting for runners. It was around 10PM (I think) and Claire took a seat. She was in rough shape indeed. The doctors couldn't get a strong pules out of her, she couldn't eat anymore, her speech was slurred and mumbled then suddenly she got up and yells "LETs GO JOHN!" What do ya know.. we were off. Drew followed us out of the aid station and then claire stopped to vomit. Drew was getting a full taste of insanity, unlike anything he had ever seen. I thought it was great... because I wanted someone else to witness it and here HE was. Drew gave us some motivation before heading for the car and the next Aid where he could meet us which was Bills at mile 89.2 Claire and I headed off into the night.

Now that it was night time the course was marked not by your typical painted blazes... but by glowstick hanging from trees. We used to to our advantage and renamed them "GOALsticks." We would run from one to the other then stop and walk to the next then run to the next then walk then run. Soon we would run 2 or 3 in a row and walk one or maybe two. We walked all the hills... briskly. Claire had her speech back, her spirits were again high and our sights set on that silver buckle. This girl is TOUGH. We ran and walked and walked and ran and ran somemore. Before we knew it we passed 2 through 2 more Aid.. and were on our way to Bills.

As we were running dirt roads we saw horses in the pastures and even some in trailers. We heard bears and owls in the distance and unfortunately the Birds had stopped their daily songs. But we however... carried on into the night ONE STEP AT A TIME. We saw a light cutting through the dense darkness... it was Bills.. and we ran in ready to go. We were in and out. Next stop... Pollys... 95.3 Miles

We were on great pace to finish this race in under 24 hours. I was totally confident we would do it.. until we found the hills once more. Claires quads felt as though they were about to explode off of her legs. Her calves screamed. The blisters on her feet the site of half dollars. She made a statement that says it all. "Ultra-Running prepared me for childbirth." Wow... the pain is WORSE the childbirth... think about that.

Our pace turned from a run to a shuffle... to a fast walk.. to a slower walk... and slower and slower. It only got later and later got EARLIER. But as the moon shone above I experienced something truly magical. Something I will NEVER forget. For the entire night we felt like we were running in a steam room. But an eery fog settled in the pastures and fields that slowly glided across the land. The mountains rose above this fog to be black shadowing figures in the distance, the moon caused the fogg to slow and enhance the effect of the mountains. And the stars... well the stars were what made dreams come true. We slowly progress together... just enjoying the moment. Heck... here it was... 3 AM. We arrive at Pollys to see Drew... And I'm pacing a runner on her 95th mile in the last DAY! I am in utter AWE.

We leave Pollys and Claire is completely DONE. She is spent. As we make ou way across muddy sections of trail, she throws tantrums as the blisters on her feet all burst and hurt. The uphills hurt.. the downhills hurt more and the flats.. well.. they hurt to. Me... I'm still in disbelief that its after 3am and I'm running 32 Miles on a BK STACKER!

We moved at a little.. LITTLE over 2 miles per hour for the last 5 Miles. It was rough going. The longer we were out there, the more emotional Claire got. I had no idea what to tell her.. I was a little scared for her but knew deep down she was well. This was just part of the game. She was winning. We saw the silver buckle go out of our sights as 24 hours came and went. But we knew.. Claire would finally finish her first 100 Miler. And like I told her 5 minutes after I met her... there is NO WAY IN HELL I'm going to let her quit.

Claire and I ran together for 10 Hours covering just over 32 Miles. She crossed the finish line with a time of 24 Hours and 59 Minutes. But what was SO special about this woman... and what will be held close to my heart for YEARS to come is what I found out after 5 minutes of running with Claire. She's a Type 1 diabetic.

I wrote this report, rewrote it... and I am truly unsatisfied. I cannot truly find the words to describe to all of you the experience I had last night. I'm truly blessed to have met Claire and helped her complete her Journey. She is beyond an inspiration. I cannot also describe to you the magic of what I saw and experienced in the fields of Vermont, I'm still in shock and humbled.

So... I did my homework and then some. I got my training run in for this weekend for sure and gained invaluable amounts of experience. I am also now finally a qualified All Night Runner after seeing the sun set and then rise as I reached the finish line. I cannot wait for the VT 50 this September and the 100 Miler Next July. As for Drew... I give the guy TONS of credit for staying up all night and driving around hunting us down. It was NOT easy finding the aid stations. I also thank he and his lovely wife for allowing me to catch 4 hours of Z's in their Pittsfield Home. Drew is going to be on my crew for future runs.. couldn't ask for a better guy.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Independence Weekend 2008

Friday, July 4, 2008
Hike: Mt. Washington, Monroe, Eisenhower and Pierce
Who: SJ, Sarah, Howard, Drew

For the 16th Consecutive Year, I continued my tradition of carrying the American Flag to the summit of Mount Washington on the 4th of July Holiday Weekend. This year we hiked up via the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail which starts just south of the Cog Railroad. We walked through a rather lush spruce forest climbing ever so gradually and later steeply to treeline. We passed many mountain streams and brooks which feed into the Ravine which afforded us with some amazing glimpses of flora and fauna. The weather was amazing! Temps at 4000+ feet was in the mid to upper 50's with a very light breeze. A cold front moved through the area the night before clearing the air of any haze or pollution. We could see as far as New York, the Atlantic Ocean, Canada.. simply spectacular.

After we left the AMC's Lakes of the Clouds Hut, we began our final approach up the Mt. Washington Summit Cone. I took the flag out as I have in years past and draped it around my shoulders for everyone above to see us coming. We later attached the flag to a hiking pole and used it as a flag pole. We continued to the summit, climbing to the summit sign where many by standers took photos of our small ceremony. I overheard someone in the crowd say "Nice touch." I agree. After summit photos and a walk around the deck, we headed inside for some food before we headed down over the Southern Presi's.

We headed down the Crawford Path which is the oldest maintained and used hiking trail in America. We made our way back down to Lakes, then went up and over Mount Monroe. As we headed towards Eisenhower, we met up with a familiar face we hadn't seen in awhile in our good friend Russ "McRat." Russ was carrying an American Flag himself as well as a hand bag filled with dry ice and ice cream sandwiches which were oh so yummy given the hot sun beating down on us for hours.

We then headed over Eisenhower where we saw a load of Cedar Logs stacked on the sides of the trail up high. One log had found its way standing up right with a heart engraved in its side. The heart said, Dr. Wu + Chomp. Nice touch! After wondering how the logs got there and what they were even for... (we know)... we headed on towards our final peak of the day, Pierce. We enjoyed the awesome views over the mountains along our way and sat atop the final peak with one final look back at what we had accomplished on our day of Independence.

Sunday, July 6, 2008
What: Pemi-Loop Fat Ass
Who: SJ, Bob Mathes, Tim Roy, Joe Holland
The Pemi-Loop was ranked #2 in Backpacker Magazines Toughest Day Hikes in the US. Pemi Loop. This starts at Lincoln Woods, and takes the Wilderness and Osseo trails to Franconia Ridge. Then it goes along the Franconia and Garfield Ridges, up the Twinway over South Twin to Guyot, then over the Bonds and back to Lincoln Woods by the Wilderness trail. The 31.5 Mile run has 9,160' of elevation gain. (18,000' +/- total).
My Previous Run Times:
2005 - 11:05
2006 - 10:02
2007 - 10:14
2008 - ???
I had no expectations for today's run. With the VT100 just 2 short weeks away, I wanted to get out for one last long run and use it for very specific training. The training would be foot placement, mental training, being alone, being hot and time on my feet. I accomplished all of these today. The MAIN concern for the run was finishing the run without being sore or with bruised feet so that I could properly continue to prepare for the VT100. This I also accomplished.
We all started at 7ish AM from the Lincoln Woods parking lot and stayed together until the first hill climb. The first climb is about 3,000' of up and these guys were taking to it. I was sucking wind hard for some reason while trying to catch up with them so I hung back and took my time. Once we reach Mt. Flume, the other 3 took off again and I chased. BY the time I got to Liberty I was zonked, sweating profusely and I was unsure if I was even going to be able to complete the loop. Finally from here to Lafayette we all stayed together at a nice and easy run/hike pace. The weather was HOT! As the sun baked the rocks, it felt like we were brick oven pizza's. It was hot and there was no wind. Not a lot of hikers out either. As we reached Lafayette, we stopped for photos and food before taking on the dreaded Garfield Ridge.

As we made our way around Garfield Ridge, we began to spread out a bit with myself being in last. I topped out on Mt. Garfield by myself and stopped for a photo opportunity.

Up ahead, one of the signs at a trail junction had been removed and tossed into the woods. This caused Tim to miss the right turn to continue along the ridge and instead he was running full steam with Metallica blaring in his ears down the wrong trail. Joe Holland chased after him as Bob Mathes and I retrieved the junction sign and rebuilt it in its proper location before we all continued along the ridge towards Galehead Hut. After a wonderful lunch break at the Hut, we all carried on up to South Twin, this .8 section of trail to the summit is sometimes referred to as the "Stairmaster from Hell." Once again the three speed demons left me in their dust and headed on without me. As I crested the top of the mountain, I saw them dump down into the woods along the Twinway. The Twinway is by far one of my favorite sections of trail. A high mountain spruce forest just littered with rocks. Everyone who thinks Massanutten is Rocky.. check out this pick of what we dealt with all day today. THESE are rocks..

We emerged from the woods out into the scrub lands of Mt. Guyot and hoped onto the Bondcliff Trail. This section of real estate is where I hope to make my final resting place. Simply humbling and stunning 360 degree views. I always get a little choked up at the beauty of this place.

I saw the boys head up and over Guyot ahead and I chased some more. I made my way up over Guyot myself and then up to Mt. Bond. I took more pictures as I heard voices below.

I still hadn't kicked it in much today so I felt now was the time. I wanted a photo on Bondcliff. SO I dumped down into the scrub and gave chase. As I left the trees and out onto the open ridge line, I looked ahead and saw the boys all ready climbing out of the col and towards the top of Bondcliff. I kicked it into gear and ran as hard as I could across the rocky ridge, twisting and turned and trying to not break anything. I envisioned myself wearing a helmet and pads. I reached Bondcliff just as they were leaving and I yelled for them to "wait!" If these mountains are your church, then the Bonds are the Cathedral and Bondcliff is the alter. Bob Mathes politely agreed to snap some shots for me and here is my favorite one:

We left the summit together but it didn't take long for them to take off once more. Either way, I continued to be patient and move down the mountain. As we ran further down into the valley I felt the temps quickly rise, it was a hot one down low. I was feeling great knowing I had done a great job today despite what my finishing time will be. I was patient, I was literal with my foot placement on the rocks, I was ok when alone and my confidence for the 100 is up. I reached the Wilderness TRail and ran/walked the rest of the way to the end. The boys finished around 10:10 and I pulled in with a 10:34.
I met Corrade in the parking lot but was too dazed and bushed to really talk with him. I hope he understands. I'd like to plan another Pemi-Loop for this year but well see what time allows us. If you haven't done one yet... TRY IT!
So.. thats it for training for the VT100. Its go time and I am READY!
Lets get pumped!