Post your trip reports in the comments or I'll just copy and paste from emails. All comments will be posted here on the main article once we get them all out there.
Speed's Trip Report:
I just wanted to share some after thoughts of the VT 50…
1) I should have bought a single level home….stairs SUCK
2) I look (and feel) pretty darn good when I'm standing/sitting still
3) I now know what a punching bag must feel like…but for some odd reason I feel better than I did after the Pemi Wilderness run.
4) Zucker is immortal…I would still be somewhere on the trail right now soaking wet, curled up with a warm sheep, and crying for mommy had I attacked the 50 miler.
5) Thanks to Nate for making me think twice and choosing the 50k race. I couldn't have had a better day. Also thanks for getting out ahead of me and giving me something to chase…I wouldn't have finished sub-7 without it.
6) And last but CERTAINLY NOT LEAST…Anna…you were the true hero of the day! You and little Nate filled the shoes of many by supporting the whole group with gear, smiles, and encouragement….thanks again for hitting me in face when I started to cry at the first handler aid station…I needed that ;)
Happy healing everyone!
Mutha's Trip Report:
I woke up at 2:30am on race day (alarm was set for 4:30) to the sound of rain on the tarp. I lay there in the dark thinking "why am i doing this?". I fell asleep and dreamed that I called it off while complaining about my sore this and sore that, and just went home. Then my alarm went off and I sat up, still thinking I had called off the race. The PM & Speed were still asleep (their race started at 8am, mine at 6:40). Because of my dream and the rain I was in kind of a dark mood - feeling like this was really a dumb idea. I got to the Ascutney base lodge early and hung out chatting with some other runners, trying to keep an eye out for Gilbert during the pre-race instructions - never found him, even when the cyclists were lining up at the start (Andy, I was standing under the awning outside). The race started in cold drizzle in the early twilight and I was NOT psyched:
A Final Note: I decided at mile 12-ish that if I couldn't smile, laugh and joke I was in it for the wrong reasons. When I do these adventures with you guys it's all about the fun. So I slapped myself around a little and actually joked and happily greeted everyone I met. A trio of older folk were out on their lawn on one steep road ascent and whenever they say a runner appear at the bottom of their hill they started banging drums in time with the runner's footfalls. They were wearing court jester outfits. I was grinning from ear-to-ear like an idiot when I realized they were synched with my feet and started doing a medicine-man dance as I climbed. The drummer matched me and we did an awesome jam until I passed by. We laughed and waved and I joked about how they were the best hallucination of the day. They guy yelled: "You look like I'm in your dream!" It was awesome.
- Anna & Dove were at the bottom of the hill, cheering and shouting in the rain. That was the coolest. It elevated my mood tremendously. They were at two other stations (miles 12-ish and 32-ish) and both times it was just the best in the world.
- I started passing busted bikes early but I didn't start passing functional cyclists until after mile 12. I guess most of them ended up passing me again. I don't know how many DNF'd while still pedaling, but the two bikers who were told they were the last to make it were yo-yo-ing me until the end. Both dnf'd.
- The late morning up to Garvin Hill (g-$$$!!) was the best. There was little wind (until the hilltop) and the countryside was filled with silver-grey fog and drizzle. The foliage was beautiful and the scene was undulating hills, horse farms, old maples, well-kept stone walls and fences and stunning barns. This was one of the most scenic runs ever. I kept imagining it was the western british islands. Even the runs through forest and fields were beautifully planned out. We went though many well maintained forests - high canopies, open ground and great visibility.
- The top of Garvin Hill: wind, quickly chilling bodies, but FREAKING SOUP!! (that was cool). It was too salty so watered mine down w/ Heed. They had salty potatoes and cheese sandwiches.
- Ran with a chatty guy from Jersey who after 45min of non-stop talking took a face-plant in the mud. I was thinking 'hmm, that shut him up' and 10 seconds later i slid into home. Actually, the guy was cool- just chatty. He was an "I'm in it for the fun!" kind of guy, but he was a very experienced ultra-runner and cyclist and eventually took off.
- Mile 20: first time i was alone. runners were stretched thin enough that didn't see anyone in front or behind. extraordinarily peaceful.
- Drizzle changed to rain. Rain. It was actually cold, freaking rain.
- Mile 32, 1:35pm. Still going strong. Anna and Dove at the aid station. Felt highly upbeat because I was on target for 11 hours.
- For the next 15 miles, slippery single-track and worse-than-Jay mud. I had a few toe-stabs that yanked my tender groin-strain, exacerbating the pain - but it didn't actually effect my stride, just when I slipped. The sore muscle is important in holding back a sideways split which was a common event so I slowed the pace down to a walk and made the decision at mile 39-ish station to bail out of the race - I had sore hamstrings (who didn't?!?), but had a lot of physical energy. The worst part was that I don't know how to do the off-camber mud descents and stay on my feet. I didn't feel agile and was just skating in my running shoes and bouncing off the trees to avoid falls and splits/stumbles. I ran where I could but was only averaging 3mi/hr. In dry conditions I could've averaged 5.
- I shouldn't say I 'bail out'. What I did was make the decision to stay within my footing comfort zone and hoped for a 12hr finish. In fact when the "5 miles to go" sign popped up on the way to station 10 I got the idea I could make it before the cutoff, figured I'd give it my best shot and actually passed four runners and a biker in just two miles. One young woman was kind of disillusioned and I tried to motivate her but eventually just ran on. When I hit the driveway leading up to the station at about 6:05 I could see they were already packing up the supplies and I knew it was over. Luckily the food/water/soda was still out so I chowed down while more runners were coming in.
- One woman who arrived 5 minutes after me was so upset she started to cry - she'd flown in from Atlanta for the race.
- I was actually really pumped and laughing and joking. The Georgia woman asked me why I wasn't upset and why I was so cheery. I said "because I did an awesome 47 mile backcountry run in hellish conditions". I gave her my coke and she cried some more.
- Got back to the finish line at 6:40 - 12 hours after the start. I went up to the finish to watch runners come in and look for the rest of the gang. No luck. Got some food, chatted with other runners and walked around looking for everyone. I figured there must've been no point in them waiting there so changed in the car and headed back to look for them at the campsite. Nobody. Packed up tent in the dark w/ a headlamp.
- Highlights: the miles of endless switchbacks of slick mud between station 9 and 10; the mud-pit: 2ft deep, 6ftx10ft muddy water insult; the wet, peanut-butter-covered class IV roads (what douchebag doesn't use Sta-Mat???); drinking coke in a dixie-cup = WIN; hot soup = WIN; whiners = FAIL. Bikers getting on and off their bikes, dragging all the metal through mud-pits for mile after mile after mile after mile after mile.
The race was pretty damned excellent.
Andy's Trip Report:
I don't know where to begin. Anna rocks. You rock for having done it and for the attitude. Dave and Nate rock for smoking the 50K. Anyone who got up the morning, suited up and gave it a go, or supported the event rocked. Wow.
I had everything. Leading off stuff included preliminary sickness during the week, bike issues during the week, a massive acute episode of intestinal disorder shortly after seeing Nate at check in, no sleep the night before. Massive indecision the morning of, while you guys were sleeping in tents. Somehow I made it to the start.
The ride it self was crazy, epic, stupid, funny. I rode well for a lot longer than expected. It was a descent into chaos however. The only thing that probably got me to the finish before dark/cutoff was the progress made earlier in the day.
The midway climb was a beast, but was probably the critical decision point. I did well on it, though it killed me the rest of the way energy wise. But this was about when elite runners started to show up, and when some of the bikers went into whine mode. To me it was like, heck the worse is over and it isn't even 10am. No problem. Right!
Really dug the guy with the drums on the hill. Glad to hear your story about this!
Things started to get dicey from the big climb on. More and more woods, more and more mud. Descents were hell. Had to point the wheel at a rut and pray. Many close calls with trees. Brakes were your enemy. Constant issues with mud and dirt in your eyes. At times was essentially blind. Biking percentage was consistently dropping but still holding above 50%. Mechanics still basically functional, but barely. Riders at this point became much more friendly, supportive. Remaining folks went into survival and support mode. Talking and mutual rooting going on. A few knuckles heads remained, but they became scarce.
Followed some good wheels, fighting off defeatism. Anna at rest 7 was a pure gift. How cool.
Started counting off the last 4 legs. Things were going okay, although shifting was now very dicey at best. Just sticking it in the little ring, pedaling when you could and walking when you couldn't. Riding still over 50%. Somewhere along in here was the party balcony as well, which was cool. Also, amazingly, some beautiful single track that was still rideable. Another huge break.
Then the last 2 legs came. Wholly crap batman. This was essentially a 9 mile hike in the mud, dragging 30 pounds of useless metal. You might as well have been raking the mud, as the wheels became so encrusted they wouldn't turn. You were just muscling the beast through the muck. This was brutal. Mentally and physically. This is where I ended up in the yo - yo with the guy with no chain. He had a great attitude, would run with his bike up hill or on flats, jump on to coast down hill, and off again. I was just slogging and dragging. It took until the last leg on Rt 44 for me to catch him.
The last leg would have been murder, had it not been the last. I was truly dragging the bike up the hill. The wheels were frozen, couldn't shift, couldn't ride. Even as it flatten out a bit with around 1.5 to 2 miles to go, tried to get on and ride, it just wasn't possible. Things were so slippery and the bike so trashed it just didn't work. Finally the ski slopes came, and was able to roll down the hill to finish. Yikes!
I am sore, beat, destroyed. But glad I showed. Hardest day on the bike I have ever experienced, although I probably shouldn't say "on", but "with". The mud lake was great, I went right through that as well, on foot. Was riding right through the deepest part of puddles near the end, as this was "better" than going around. Just some bizarre learning experiences about biking in that kind of stuff.
Sorry to have missed you at both start and finish. Good job, can't wait till next year!
The Puppet Master's Trip Report: VT50 Highlights from PM
1) My sister and nephew as support crew/ultimate cheerers/morale boosting crazies. It was such a boost to see these guys at the aid stations and along the course. I can't begin to explain the mental lift you get from having someone with the amount of energy they brang to the party. That was great.
2) The general atmosphere of the race was very laid back/super friendly and I talked to a ton of people along the way. Although, I will admit that just before the 1/2 way point of the 50K, I had to dial it back because I was pretty sure that if I kept running with the guy talking about how cross-fit workouts make you a better person, I would end up in the Brownsville holding cell. This a-rod was on and on about how the people who suffer during this race will do so because they haven't trained their quads and hamstrings enough - it's all about squats and lunges. In my head I was thinking, "How about I lunge my fist into your ass and see how chatty you are then?!" That was the Scottish in me talking!
3) Knowing that Pat "The Irish Rocket" Flaherty and David "I will make you my bitch" Speed were coming up behind me was motivating to keep me pushing forward early but I will say I got an even bigger lift when we were all trotting together and finished together. Pat caught me by coming up behind and yelling out "Strong, you animal" and Speed just miraculously showed up at the last aid station, drinking Coke in teh dixie cup, looking like he had just gotten out of the shower - fresh!
4) About 1/2 way in, I was running alone through the woods when the bikers started coming into the same course and I was yo-yoing with one guy and we started to chat. He was younger, really pushing himself to ride up these nasty, slippy hills and I was totally impressed and motivated by his energy. On the next downhill, he yelled "Rock on man." and shot off. He must have either taken a long rest to get his bike clean or had a mechanical issue because after the next aid stop, he came up behind me on one of the dirt roads, just looked over at me trying to trot uphill, didn't say a word and just raised a fist and nodded. It totally pumped me up!
5) I had a few laughing episodes, mostly based on funny songs popping into my head. One moment in particular was the Pogues "Sunny Side of the Street" - kind of a jolly, Irish drinking song, fueled by flutes and guitar. It popped into my head when the day turned the most sour - blowing wind, rain, and mud-caked trails underfoot - and I just started laughing hysterically!
6) In he last mile, trotting along with David, Pat, and a woman named Pat who has helped pace me early and I returned the favor later, the trails turned decent enough in the woods to trot. We all kind of started quick stepping the downhills and then my brain snapped and made me yell something like "Okay. Fuck this, let's go." And I just started running as hard as I could at that point and knew that everyone was onboard. We rocked the roller coaster hills, the shitty, slick ski hill fields, and all pretty much came across the line for a 7hr finish on the nose.
7) Flaherty ate my last 2 e-caps. That SOB!
8) I have to thank Mrs Mad Dog for her pep talk before the Mt Mansfield race about not even letting the negative thoughts gain footing in your mind when racing. Ever since talking it out with her and Sue at the table that night, I have had only happy, positive thoughts on the run. Perhaps the "voice of treason" is dead?
9) VT mud - wow! That was tough footing, even worse than Jay.
10) The scenery was some of the most beautiful I have seen and the winding, rolling single-track trails were so much fun to float along on, even as the legs were getting tired.
11) Post-race beer, food, and more beer and food. Delicious.
12) The Ascutney Sports Center must hate this race because the showers and locker room had about 3 inches of mud and water flooding the entire place. I can only imagine them cleaning up afterwards!
13) Driving to work on VT Rte 131 yesterday morning. If you ever get a chance, take the ride. One of the prettiest roads I have been on in VT, especially with the foliage.
14) Zucker entertaining my nephew (and the rest of us) with wild, fun stories of his brother Jacque, the pooping cow, etc. Awesome!
15) Thinking it's only 1 more year until we get to try it again...
Some pre-race pics here - http://picasaweb.google.com/puppetmaster64/VT502009PreMudPhotos#