Thursday, July 26, 2012

Vermont 100 Race Report by Christy Scott

Vermont 100
July 21-22, 2012
Christy Scott

After the lottery for Western States 100 was completed in December, 2011 and I did not get in, I immediately signed up for the Vermont 100. I wanted to do one of the “big” races and VT sounded perfect. With 15,000 feet of climbs and descents, with some rugged terrain, I knew it would be my hardest race yet. I started training around the end of January with Mountain Mist 50k on Monte Sano Mountain as my kick-off. I put together a training plan based off my past experience, reading lots of information, and talking with more experienced ultra runners. I trained my butt off, raced a LOT, and stuck to the schedule. I asked our friend, Stuart, if he would be interested in helping Tony crew for me, and of course he said that he would. We later found out that the Badwater Ultra (135 miles in Death Valley) was on the Monday before my race, so he would be traveling straight from one race to the other. That’s a true friend!

We arrived in Vermont on Thursday evening before the race. We stayed at a beautiful place called the Ascutney Mountain Resort in Brownsville, VT. It is a ski resort and was gorgeous! It was also only about 10-15 minutes away from the race site. We got up on Friday morning and did a nice, short trail run around the resort. The trails were perfect, as was the weather. It was only in the mid-50’s that morning, which was a welcome relief from our Alabama heat! We then spent the day sightseeing, then picked up my race packet and crew info, weighed in and attended the pre-race meeting. There were tons of people there with 306 runners, their crew and families, plus lots of horses and riders. This is the first race that I have ever done sharing the course with horses, and it was really cool. We then went to dinner at Spooner’s in Woodstock with the rest of the Huntsville gang that was there for the race.

Ascutney Mountain Resort

Stuart running the resort trails

The race started at 4 AM, so we were up at 2:30 and there by 3:30. The weather was perfect at around 56 degrees. We started almost right away on some steep, rocky trails in the darkness. It was great! For the first 30 miles or so, I maintained an 11 minute per mile average pace, which included walking all of the harder climbs and running the downhills and flat sections. I dropped to around 12 minute miles average after that point, then ended up with a 14:56 average overall for the race. Tony and I made a mistake late in the race around mile 93 and ended up running 2 extra miles, which killed my chances of even being close to a sub-24 hour finish. I had been slowing down anyway, so it was going to be a close call whether I would break 24 hours. At the VT 100, you only get “the buckle” if you finish sub-24. For 24-30 hour finishes, you get a plaque. I really wanted that buckle to add to my collection.

Race start

Me and Tony at the start

The course had equal descents with all of the crazy climbing that we had to do, which was nice. At about mile 30, I really started feeling the climbing, as my legs began to tighten up and try to cramp. I drank like crazy all day, including both water and Gu Brew. I ate salt, as well as lots of typical ultra race foods. There were three weigh-in points along the course, which is to make sure that you are staying hydrated and fueled properly. I had lost 5 pounds at the first weigh-in. They told me to watch my intake and try and get more in. At the next weigh-in, I had not gained any back, but hadn’t lost any more, so that was a good sign. By the last weigh-in, I had gained 4 pounds back, which was good. I feel like I did well with nutrition, as this is the first 100-miler that I have not experienced any stomach issues. What slowed me down more than anything was the tightness, fatigue and soreness in my quads (from the steep downhills), as well as my breathing in the latter part of the race. Over the last several months, I have had some trouble with my breathing during training runs, especially where big climbs were involved. During the race, I felt many times, like I was on the verge of something like an asthma attack. I just tried to focus and calm my breathing when it started to happen. This was frustrating for me, as I knew my original 22 hour finish goal was slipping away. I shifted to “Plan B”, which was a sub-24 hour finish. As we got further into the evening/early morning hours, I knew that we weren’t going to break 24 hours, especially with the 2 mile detour that we took, which I have to admit, was totally my fault.

Sharing the course with the horses

Heading into an aid station

This race was by far, the hardest thing that I have ever done, so finishing sub-25 was fine with me! It is my second fastest 100-mile finish, and considering the course, I am very happy with it. The climbing, the rocky, root-covered trails (which tore up my feet and ankles with blisters) and the heat were a challenge. The views were spectacular, the volunteers were awesome, my crew was amazing, as usual. We also got to share the course with horses, which I thought was really cool. They had the option of 50, 75 or 100 miles. The riders were all very nice and were happy to share the trail with us, as well as offer up lots of support and encouragement.

View from the top of one of the major climbs around mile 30

One of the challenges I thought I would have is that they prohibit headphones at this race, due to safety issues, especially with the horses being out there. Although I had run many miles without them, running 71 miles with no pacer and no headphones to distract me, I was worried. My other races had allowed pacers to start much earlier, plus I had the headphones to keep my mind busy. Thankfully, I had no problem at all. The views were so beautiful and it was nice to be able to talk to the other runners as well. The time actually went by quickly, up until around mile 20 miles from the finish.

At the end, running the downhills was BRUTAL, especially on the trail sections. It was dark, unfamiliar trail and my quads were shot. Stuart and Tony were both great with encouraging me and trying to get me to run as much as possible. They wanted me to get that buckle as well. Although I didn’t come home with a buckle, I feel very proud of my accomplishment. I know that I gave 100% effort and couldn’t have done any more. That’s what counts. I finished what I started.

At the finish with my awesome crew

306 starters, 218 finishers 24:53 finish time, 14:56 average pace

Monday, July 23, 2012

Weekend Results

This was a great weekend for the Nike Fleet Feet Racing Team, staring in Vermont where Huntsville had three athletes in action. Dink Taylor had a great day, finishing in 19:11:07 for his second fastest trail 100 miler and his first time under 20 hours since he was 32 years old (15 years ago!) Christy Scott averaged 14:56 pace and finished in 24:53:56. Blake Thompson decided to call it an early day and dropped after 30.5 miles.

21 Dink Taylor - 19:11:07 (11:30 pace)
133 Christy Scott - 24:53:56 (14:56 pace)

Preliminary Results

In Decatur, Alabama at the Wet Dog triathlon, Greg Reynolds took a podium finish home with a 3rd place overall in a time of 49:54. David Rawlings cut over 3 minutes off of his time from last year, finishing with a 56:55, while Lisa Rawlings cut two minutes off of her time from last year.

Official Results

Robert Whitaker was 6th overall and 1st grand master with a time of 19:34 at the challenging Mountain Dew 5K Trail Run in Moulton.

In Huntsville at the Twilight 5km, George Heeschen notched another win with a time of 17:27. The team took the top three places overall, with Erik Debolt and Victor Brown finishing 2nd and 3rd.
  Photo courtesy of Rick Maehlmann

1 George Heeschen, 25 - 17:27 5:37
2 Erik Debolt, 29 - 17:43 5:43
3 Victor Brown, 48 - 17:56 5:47
5 Marty Clarke, 50 - 19:13 6:12
9 Randy McFarland, 51 - 19:43 6:21

Official Results

In Nashville, Andrew Hodges was 2nd overall at the Music City Tri with a time of 1:52:14, less than a minute off of the winner's time.

Official Results

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Gear Review: Honey Stinger Organic Energy Gels by Eric Charette

The Product:  Organic Energy Gel from Honey Stinger, available in Acai Pomegranate, Vanilla and Fruit Smoothie flavors.

Ingredients: Organic tapioca syrup, organic honey, water, potassium citrate, natural flavor, citric acid, sodium chloride.  Contains 95% organic ingredients.

Nutritional Information: 100 calories, 0 grams of fat, 50mg of sodium, 50mg of potassium, 23 grams of carbs (from 13 grams of sugar). They are certified organic also.

Pricing: $32.40 on the Honey Stinger website for a box of 24.  They are also available locally in Huntsville at Fleet Feet Sports.

Review:  I will be the first to admit that I was skeptical of trying the new Organic Energy Gels from Honey Stinger.  I am such a fan of using the original (now named Classic) Gold flavor during my training runs and during races that I didn't think that the gels could be improved upon, but I was wrong!

I have tried the new Organic Energy Gels during a variety of different training sessions including during my recent fastest known time attempt of the 40.4 mile Greenstone Ridge Trail on Isle Royale.  I really needed an instant energy surge to finish up the last few miles and the Organic Gel was perfect to fuel me to the end.  More recently, I used the Organic Energy Gel during a track workout.  I went through my normal routine of warming up for three miles, followed by some light stretching.  Then I took about half of the Acai Pomegranate Organic Energy Gel before a few more easy laps on the track.  While during my warm up I felt sluggish with heavy legs, it was amazing the lift in instant energy I felt within ten minutes of taking it and was able to have a great VO2max session.

When comparing the new Organic with the Classic energy gels, the organic have 16% less calories (100 compared to 120) and they have less potassium (50mg for Organic and 85mg for Classic), both of which are negligible differences in my opinion.  Where I see the big difference is that the new Organic Gels have less total carbs (23 grams for Organic and 29 grams in the Classic) which is not preferred, but in doing so they cut the composition of carbs due to sugars from 29 grams to 13 grams.  One of the other main differences is the basis of tapioca syrup in the Organic gels which seem to make it much smoother than the classic.

Now that you know how they compare to the original, the question that comes to mind is how do they taste?  I have tried all three flavors and liked the Acai Pomegranate more than the Vanilla or Fruit Smoothie.  Honestly the Vanilla reminded me too much of the Vanilla flavor from another manufacturer for me to give a fair chance and the Fruit Smoothie just didn't seem like a flavor that I would crave during competition.  The taste of the Acai Pomegranate was just my personal favorite but I would recommend that you try all three to see which works best with your stomach.

Summary:   I finished my track session by taking the rest of the Organic gel before a long cool down.  There wasn't an energy crash at any point, proving that the new Organic gels really have the ingredients for long lasting endurance activities.  The new Organic Energy Gels are a nice compliment to the line of already outstanding energy gels from Honey Stinger and I highly recommend that you try them.

Eric has been a member of the Fleet Feet Racing Team since he moved to Huntsville in 2007 and currently directs team operations.  Recently he set the fastest known time for the 40.4 mile Greenstone Ridge Trail on Isle Royale in Lake Superior, running unsupported from Washington Creek Trail to Hidden Lake Trail in 8 hours, 47 minutes and 36.90 seconds.  Pictures and a write up on his epic adventure can be found on his blog.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Recent Results

On the 4th of July, the Nike Fleet Feet Racing Team was in action in Huntsville, Atlanta and Birmingham!

In Huntsville at the Firecracker 5km, Blake Thompson lead the way with a 17:38 (2nd overall) and Dink Taylor was 5th overall and first men's master in 18:12.  Caitlin Morris was the women's winner in 18:33 (9th overall) and Jill Koch was 2nd female in 19:32.

Official Results

In Birmingham at the 8.2 mile Peavine Falls road/trail race, Eric Charette finished 6th overall with a time of 50:49. The first half of this race is a climb up to the top of Oak Mountain and after a cone turn around, is a fast downhill on roads and trails back to the start.

Official Results

Starting in Atlanta with the largest 10km race in the United States, where Jim Clemens ran 37:17 at the Peach Tree Road Race and finished 232nd overall out of 57,809 runners.

Official Results

Marty Clarke ran a 5km race on July 3rd in 96 degree weather with a 7am start and finished in 18:33 and was the 1st Grandmaster.

On July 10, Eric Charette set the fastest known time for the 40.4 mile Greenstone Ridge Trail on Isle Royale in Lake Superior, running unsupported from Washington Creek Trail to Hidden Lake Trail in a time of 8 hours, 47 minutes and 36.90 seconds.  His report can be found online at

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Weekend Results

This weekend started out at 12:00 am in Lake Guntersville at the Blessings in a Backpack 8km midnight run.  Eric Charette finished 2nd overall with a time of 28:50 and Tim Pitt was close behind in 3rd place overall.

Official Results (pending)

Just a few hours later, Eric Charette was the overall winner of the Big 5km at Bridge Street in Huntsville with a time of 17:27.  Dink Taylor and Donald Bowman volunteered for the event.

Official Results

1 Eric Charette, 36M - 17:27
24 Dana Overton 37F - 21:26
36 Christy Scott 39F - 22:43

Photo courtesy of Gregg Gelmis

Photo courtesy of Gregg Gelmis

In Decatur at the Spirit of America 5 miler, Randy McFarland was 5th overall running 34:17 and after the age grading style of this race, finishing in 47:19.

Official Results

Rob Youngren and Kathy Youngren ran the 212km Ultrabalaton run at lake Balaton in Hungary as a relay team. As soon as we figure out how to read Hungarian, we will post the results which will be in an upcoming feature article.

Official Results