Vermont 100, 2012 Race Report

Race: Vermont 100 mile Endurance Run

Distance: 100 miles (160km)

Date: 21st July 2012

Start Time: 04:00am

Finish Time: 20:11:10pm

Total Time: 16hrs 11min 11sec

Weather conditions: We arrived in Boston on Tuesday afternoon before the race, and stepped off the plane to 35 degrees Celsius. It was also more humid than I expected for this far north and east, but things were looking up for a nice hot day come the race. It could have been any March day in Cairns.

The drive up to Vermont was uneventful the following day, and when we arrived at the hotel it was a balmy 30. It rained overnight on the Thursday, which increased the humidity factor on Friday.

It couldn't have been more perfect for racing – in my opinion anyway.

I started the race at 4am in a sleeveless top and arm warmers, which I discarded by 6:30am. As the sun came up the hotter and more humid it became.

Race/Event Objectives: This was a bit of an unknown. Vermont was my second 100 miler in 3 weeks and I had only taken 5 days off running in total between the two races. I would find out if whether or not my "maintenance regime" had been too much or too little during the race.

Again, the first goal is always to finish, second is run a good time, 3rd (if the first two are going ok) is to race.

Race/Event Details: The race starts with a long slow downhill, followed by a gradual uphill section on gravel road, leading onto forestry trail. We all started out pretty hard. Looking at the Garmin splits I was sitting on 4:35, 4:31, 4:40min/km pace for the first 10km. It felt easy, but when I considered that there was still 94 miles or 150km to go I had to ask whether or not this was sustainable. However, the pace never really seemed to back off. Relatively we slowed down to adjust for the rolling terrain, but it was still fast.

I ran with a group of guys that included two of the Grand Slam runners, Paul Terranova and Jay Smithberger, and 2nd place finisher, Rod Bien. I knew Rod was running well and although my race was between Jay and Paul, I still wanted to race this race for what it was, independent of the Grand Slam standings.

After Pretty House aid station at mile 22.5, I slipped into 6th place and slightly ahead of Paul and Jay. From here I just knuckled down and ran on my own in no mans land until just before Camp 10 Bear where I was able to reel in two runners ahead of me. This put me in 4th place overall.

By now it was heating up and the course was fairly exposed. I felt as though things were going well, until Paul T came storming into Camp 10 Bear about 4 mins behind me, and looking like a million bucks. For the next 15 or so miles Paul stuck to me and made up 3 mins, virtually drawing level with me at 10 Bear for the second time.

Fortunately at this point I was able to pick up my pacer Chris Martin, a Vermont veteren, local guy, and multiple 100 mile finisher. I had indicated to him in prior correspondence that I was aiming at 17 hour pace. At this point I was an hour ahead of schedule and knew that it was going to be tough to hang on.

Climbing the veritable mine shaft out of 10 Bear, Paul overtook me and ran off into the distance. It was demoralizing but at the same time I felt the pressure of the chase off, and I could now focus on sorting out my current nausea situation that had been plaguing me for the past 2 hours.

I got down on all fours and did the whole "finger in throat" technique, projectiling a mixture of coke, banana, gels and watermelon. Within 2 minutes I literally felt as good as I had at the start of the race, and the chase was now on. We descended a technical single track section like we were on a 10km trail run. Hard and fast running saw us catch up to Paul and his pacer just ahead. Chris and I maintained this distance pretty much up until mile 96.

During that section though (mile 76 to 89) it was tough. The course was particularly undulating and unrelenting. The afternoon sun was warm and the humidity high.

At mile 81, Rod Bien came hammering past looking as fresh as a daisy. I managed to jump onto their train and hang on for a few miles, but the pace was too hot and it is always a fine line between running comfortably or running someone else's pace and blowing up and walking the last 11 miles.

One of the unique factors of this race is that there is an endurance horse race held on the same day and same course. There are 3 options – a 50, 75 and 100mile horse race. I fortunately was never "horsed" but we would often come across horse aid stations and unmanned water troughs along the route. The shorter rides ran in the opposite direction to the runners in some sections, which meant that horses had already drunk from some of the water troughs.

At a point between mile 81 and 89 I was stopping frequently to dunk my head into a trough of warm dirty water. It was amazingly refreshing at that point, despite the lack of hygiene.

After the last medical check at mile 89 at which I had gained 2 pounds, after having lost 8 pounds at the previous medical station at Camp 10 Bear, I was good to go. With 16 / 17 kms to go which equates to a section of road I train on at home called the Freshwater Loop, the end was in sight – so were a few other runners.

At mile 95 I caught and passed a guy called Jim. He had been running well all day and we had yoyo'd each other for a lot of the day. I knew I would have to maintain this momentum, as anything could happen in such a short distance to the finish line. As I came around the corner to Polly's aid station, I managed to draw level with Paul. With 6 km to go I wasn't looking forward to running a 6km TT.

It wasn't quite a PB, but I managed to run the last 6 and a bit hilly kilometers in 32 minutes. It was good enough to hold off Paul and Jim and get me onto the podium in 3rd overall with a time of 16hrs 11mins.

It was a great day and all came together, but it is not over yet and with the altitude of Leadville and 200 miles in the legs, anything can happen. For now though, I will enjoy a few beers and a bit of break from the training.

Shoes: Saucony Kinvara

Socks: None

Fluids taken during the race: Endura Optimizer, Endura Gels, water and coke

Energy / Calories consumed Prior to the race: Approximately 600 calories in the form of savory rice, Endura Energy Bar, Orange Juice, banana, two slices of toast and jam. I went slightly less on this occasion because the race start was 4am and I wasn't game to wake up at 2am to eat. So I woke at 3am and ate less, but started eating earlier in the race.

Energy / Calories consumed During the race: I aimed for 1 serve of Endura Optimizer and one Endura Gel per hour totaling roughly 400 calories per hour. It was too hot for chicken broth or soup, so my extra calories came in the form of coke (lots of it), rock melon where I could at various aid stations.

Sodium / Electrolytes consumed During the race: 4 SCAP tablets per hour, or wherever I could get them, if it went over the hour.

Things that worked for this event: 90% liquid nutrition, lightweight racing flats in the form of Saucony Kinvara's, hand held water bottle, caffeine tablets.

Things that didn't work well for this event: It went pretty well, so there wasn't much I could fault.

Post-Race Recovery: I had an epic day of traveling on the Monday post race to my next destination in Colorado. We left Vermont at 4:30am and arrived in Pagosa Springs at 10pm. I ran for 30mins on Tuesday afternoon and will try and easy 40mins today (Wednesday).

Lessons Learned: Consistency and patience. Don't worry about what is happening between mile 30 and 80. I was fortunate enough to gain two positions in the last 4.5 miles.


#4 Dan Salem 2012-07-27 22:57
WOW Mike,Great job unbelievable pace throughout..
Great race report.All the best wishes for Leadville
Dan from Townsville
#3 Rob Kent 2012-07-27 01:42
Hey Mick... great race and report! Can't wait to hear about Leadville! Go get'em champ!
#2 Shane Hutton 2012-07-26 21:21
Hey mike awesome work and a great post race review. I like the way you have included your nutrition strategy It is a particular point of interest for us novices. I hope the recovery goes well and I look forward to meeting you in Leadville.
#1 Andrew Firman 2012-07-26 13:08
Another job well done Mike. 2 down, 2 to go! Go hard and hang on mate.

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