Monday, July 21, 2008

Pacing Report : Vermont 100 Mile Endurance Run

After a successful 6-day crewing/pacing stint at the Badwater Ultramarathon, my return home was more like a layover.  I spent a few hours with the girls on Thursday night, hit the sack, and departed for the Vermont 100 Mile Endurance Run early Friday morning where I would crew and pace Wayne Bates in his first 100-mile race.  This trip would turn out to consist of the perfect combination of hard work and humor, and was at times incredibly comical.  There were even a couple of hard lessons learned along the way (more on that to come).

Emmy stopped by early Friday and picked me up to head over to Wayne's house.  We switched vehicles at Wayne's and headed off to Ascutney, Vermont. The 4-hour ride was quite a "learning" experience.  I now know more about Emmy and Wayne then I ever could imagine knowing.  In fact, I think I'd like to block out some of the information that was shared among three friends with nothing but time on their hands.  We drove straight to packet pick-up and the pre-race meeting where we met up with a bunch of friends, including Frank and his family, Nick Palazzo, Chris and Susan and the rest of the G.A.C. group, etc....The slide show at the end of this post has a bunch of pictures from the pre-race meeting.

Our next stop became Lesson #1 - Take particular attention to on-line hotel reviews when deciding on a hotel to stay at.  Wayne chose the Yankee Village Motel, which may be in the running for one of the absolute worst places to stay in the USA.  Yet, the reviews did not stop us from staying there.  "Hell in Ascutney, Vermont" read one review title, which went on to state that "this place isn't fit for man or beast ... this was the most disgusting motel I have ever stayed at ... there were exposed wires, scum, and just horrid conditions."  A second review, "Good Lord What a Dump" read, in part, "trust me, photos on the internet don't show the nasty carpet, the nasty black mold in the shower and bath tubs, and on the shower curtain, the photos don't show the scalp and pubic hairs still attached to the shower and tub walls ... it doesn't show the stains on the old sheets and bed spreads, it doesn't show the left over food stains ...".  Come on, how bad can it actually be, right ?  Wrong !  Our room came complete with :

Carpet Stains
Three Beds ?
A Podium Toilet ?  (Try straddling that thing)

A quick dinner at the local Pizza Hut was followed by an early lights out.  Wayne's alarm went off at 2:17 A.M. Saturday.  I was pretty much in and out of sleep at that point, but was able to drag myself out of bed to wish him and Emmy good luck.  At around 4:00 A.M. Bryon Powell of arrived to catch a few ZZZs before heading out to pace Andy Jones-Wilkins, the eventual winner of the 100-mile race (which worked out just fine since the room had 3 beds).

My pacing duties would not start until 7:30 P.M., so I spent the rest of the day with Chris and the G.A.C. group, both crewing Wayne and Chris's wife Susan.  It was great to see the folks I spent hours with at Bear Mountain a few months ago.  This group is really amazing and incredibly helpful to all runners.  Wayne was looking great as he came through the aid stations.  When I joined him at the 70.1 mile mark at Camp 10 Bear, he was way ahead of schedule and had a good shot at a sub-24 hour finish.  Lesson #2 (which is not a new concept at all) - don't go out too fast in the heat or you will crash and burn.  The next 13.5 miles were a mix of ups and downs.  At times we were running comfortably at a good pace on the flats and down hills.  But, as time went by, Wayne's quads were not cooperating with his down hill running, and running the flats even became a chore.  When we pulled into the Cow Shed Aid Station (mile 83.6) the wheels came off the bus.  We had to put a wobbling Wayne in a chair to sit.  As he sit shivering, he was able to get some hot soup down, but we then had to move him close to a fire that was built at the aid station.  Lesson #3 - do not sit a weary runner too close to a burning fire.  Wayne nearly fell into the fire twice, but we were able to catch him (or he was able to wobble the other way) in time. 

Wayne napped for a good hour at Cow Shed.  I would wake him every now and then to see if he wanted to move on.  Each time he would ask for another 15 minutes.  After an hour he awoke to announce that he had to do two things - puke and....well, the other thing is not important, but it would involve a search for a porta potty.  Wayne would do neither of the two.  As I was walking him to the porta potty that was a bit up the road, he placed both hands on the ground in a bed of leaves, leading to Lesson #4 - do not try to do the downward dog yoga pose in a 100-mile race.  The man could not extricate himself from this pose, ass in the air, hands and feet on the ground !  Eventually, he would roll over into a soft bed of leaves near the road, head lamp on and all.  The aid station crew moved two toy cars near him (see third photo below) to make sure that he wasn't run over by any vehicles that pulled into the aid station.  We also put a blanket over him to keep him warm.

About an hour later I woke Wayne to check on his condition.  He asked if we could make it in 30 hours if we left now and also asked if he should drop from the race.  I told he that he'd never make it lying down, and that the decision to drop was his to make.  He looked much better, and I was not about to make that kind of a decision for him.  Worst case, he could sleep a bit more as he still had 7-8 hours to complete the last 16 miles of the race.  What happened next was as odd as I've seen in a while.  Wayne rises from his bed of leaves, announces to all that he didn't drop from the race, and says "let's go", and, believe it or not, we actually spent a good portion of the next 10 miles moving at a decent pace, running some of the downs and flats, and always power walking at a good clip.

By the time we hit Polly's Aid Station (95.5 miles) things turned ugly again.  Running was a near impossibility, and Wayne's power walking pace began to slow.  The hike from Sargent's Aid Station (97.7 miles) to the finish line was a death march for Wayne.  Yet, he put on his best smile for every picture I took (see slide show below).  Wayne finished his first 100-mile race in 27:12:39, an amazing job considering his condition in the last 20 miles or so.  At this point Wayne could barely move.  I helped him over to the medical tent area where he sat and got some food.  He started shaking again, but wanted to head back to the hotel (why anyone would want to go back to the Yankee Village Motel, I just don't know).  The doctor working the medical tent was great, gave me instructions as to what to do with Wayne, and had me drive the care right up to the tent, at which point I got into an argument with a local Vermont @$$%$^$ who was volunteering and thought it was much more important for him to be able to immediately pull his pick-up truck closer to the main tent so he didn't have to carry the tables for the post-race awards ceremony, then it was to get a guy needing serious help into a car.  We had the good doctor and the rest of the VT100 staff on our side, so that worked out just fine.

When I arrived back at the motel, Emmy and Rob (he had come to pace Emmy) were there and helped to get Wayne out of the car and into the room.  We tried to clean him up as best as we could (well, the boys left that to Emmy), which led to several hysterical moments.  Finally, we lay poor Wayne to rest in bed #3.

We left Wayne to sleep and wasted some time by going to the post-race awards ceremony.  Emmy got her finishers award (and grabbed Wayne's as well).  When we returned to the Yankee Village Motel we found out that they had cleaned the entire room around Wayne.  He had moved to a chair and told us that the motel manager came and yelled at him for staying past check-out time.  We quickly stuffed Wayne into the car and headed home, which, leads me to Lesson #5 - be prepared to learn a lot more about your travel mates then you would ever expect to.

Overall it was a great trip.  I had an absolute blast with Wayne and Emmy, and it was great to help him through his first 100-miler.  Congrats to everyone who participated.  A full slide show of pictures is below.....enjoy.


  1. Thanks for all your help this weekend. Emmy gave us a lot of laughs on the way up and back. I can't believe all the pics of you. NOT. Thanks for getting me through the last 20 miles. They were tough.

  2. Good job Wayne! Anthony, way to go pacing. Sounds like a good time.

  3. what a wonderful race report --I am again laughing so hard that I am crying...that photo of Wayne between 2 toy cars is priceless. Congrats to both of you -I am overjoyed that wayne rose from the dead and finished. I always always remember trying to get wayne in the car yesterday a.m. (he was hanging onto the car and walls) with that Yankee Village woman pestering at us!!! I had a great time with you both.

  4. OMG Dude!! Sounds like a trip!! I don't EVEN want to know what those stain were *puke* HAHAHA

  5. I bet you need more sleep than I do right now:)
    nice going wayne and anthony

  6. Tny, way to help out friends both at BW and VT!!! And kudos to your runners!

  7. Sounds like a fantastic trip! How do you have the stamina to do this stuff back to back and where can I get some of it?

  8. Thanks all. I was a total blast out there with wayne.

    Runner Girl - this was a very difficult week for me with all of the travel...west coast to east coast to west coast. I missed my girls big time. I'm still exhausted, but now I actually need to focus on my own training !

  9. Tony - great job accomplishing so much in the past 10 days. That alone counts as an ultra marathon even if you hadn't run any of the miles. Your runners and travel partners are lucky to have you as a friend. I agree with Emmy (albeit at Wayne's expense, sorry) that the picture with the cars is just too priceless. What were they doing with cars like that anyway?

  10. great job pacing anthony! great report and slideshow!

    great finish wayne and emmy!

  11. Once again, great job Tony on getting your runner to the finish line. Your photos brought back fond memories of my first 100 at VT last year - the ones of the scenary, not Wayne laying down.

    See you at Turkey Swamp.

  12. Terrific Report! I love the photos! I got a few of Emmy S and Frank C, Nick P and some more of the possee at Bill's about 2:30 a.m.. .I will do my best to be there at the VT 100 to help again --crew, pace, etc. It's amazing to see Wayne rise from the dead. A true sleep runner.!