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Go All Night: The Vermont 100 Endurance Run

Jun 04, 2019 08:12PM
If you are an endurance athlete, you are aware of certain meccas in the sport of distance running—places like Flagstaff, Arizona; Eugene, Oregon; and the highlands of Kenya in Africa. Well, it’s time to add a list of tiny backwoods Vermont enclaves to these geographic giants in running: West Windsor, Cavendish, Hartford, Pomfret, Reading, Woodstock, and Brownsville.

Every July, nearly 400 endurance runners (and their support crews) compete in one of the nation’s most prestigious ultra-races—the Vermont 100 Endurance Race. For those who don’t know, “ultra” refers to any footrace over the marathon distance of 26.2 miles. For those who also don’t know, the Vermont 100 leads runners 100 miles over mostly trails and dirt roads through the towns of—you guessed it—West Windsor, Cavendish, Hartford, Pomfret, Reading, Woodstock, and Brownsville.

Runners and their supporters camp out for the entire Vermont 100 weekend, this year scheduled for July 19 to 21. The race starts on July 20 at 4am, and times range from 15 hours to the 30-hour cutoff. Runners endure heat, cold, hills, tree roots, mud, water, sleep deprivation, and anything and everything else you can imagine while traveling 100 miles on foot. Krista must have been in quite a zone to describe any section of Vermont’s longest ultra as a “blink.”


Two Legs or Four

The Vermont 100 is an uber-long, uber-difficult race on steep and difficult terrain in one of the most beautiful crannies in one of America’s most beautiful states. But it is even more than that. Many of the oldest 100-milers—like Western States in California and Old Dominion in Virginia—were horse races before they became human races.

Vermont is one of the few where the horses and the humans still race on the same course on the same day. It should be noted that, in addition to the 100-milers and the horses, there is also a division for runners with disabilities and a 100-kilometer event. All of the events are formidable, and the athletes in each of them are inspiring, whether they finish their event or not.

 

By Mark Aiken

Photos by Herb Swanson

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