The Vermont 100 is going to be hot. I finally looked at the forecast and yes, it will reach into the 90's during the day with high humidity. On the bright side, temps in the 60's are expected during the night on Saturday. So all we have to do is get through the day and it will be smooth sailing! How's that for positive thinking?
What is it about the Vermont 100 that draws me (and so many others) back time after time? Vermont doesn't have the technical single track that I love so much. Those dusty gravel roads are killers in the scorching sun and pound the hell out of my legs. The course is constantly up or down and it is difficult to find any sort of rhythm. The parts that are on dirt are often muddy and wet, which when alternated with the gritty gravel roads often makes for some bloody blistered feet. It definitely isn't the most wonderful course out there.
The answer is that the course isn't what makes the race what it is. The race organization is outstanding with attention to every detail. Former race director, Jim Hutchinson took the time and effort to get to know the runners and listen to what they had to say. His daughter, Julia has taken over the reigns and does just as good a job.
Many of the same people return year after year to volunteer or run or spectate. The event always draws a lot of newbies as well, and the veterans are always excited to offer encouragement to them. It becomes a very social event before, during, and after the run. Other runners' crews are quick to offer help and encouragement each time a runner pulls into a handler station. This race has the feel of "we're all in this together." I've run several other hundred milers and the people that run and volunteer are ALWAYS great at these things, but Vermont has an even more special feel to me.
The aid station help is extraordinary at Vermont. They know what they are doing. They are more than willing to help each runner in any way they can. It is amazing how just a few words or a kind gesture from a volunteer can change a runner's attitude from "I can't do this" to "I will do this." They are also experts at the practical stuff, like recognizing when a runner is in trouble, helping out with first aid requests, or recognizing when a runner is getting a little too comfortable and needs to get moving out of the station!
Add the horse race that occurs on the same trails at the same time, the free camping, two great meals (pre and post race), the fantastic veiws, and a good cause (Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sport) and you've got a very special event! I'll see many of you there, the rest of you will have to wait for my the race report.