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Crewing and Pacing the Vermont 100

I started my drive to the Vermont 100 with a long drive to Vermont after work, stopping only for gas and a beer at the Skunk Hollow Tavern before finding my way to the tent that Alicia and Dave had set up for me earlier in the day.

While at Skunk Hollow Tavern, a local band jammed away as an inebriated townie named Tater, who happened to have brought his own harmonica, cheered them on. I noticed the bass player was wearing a Johnny’s Seed hat which had me wondering if there was a Tater somewhere in Waterville at this very moment losing his mind to the local talent back home.

When the band took a break I learned that the man that I thought was Tater was actually named Ted and he had been yelling about his son named Tater and how those in the bar should leave to go wake Tater up as he is a great guy to party with. Eventually, it became evident that the group Ted had seated himself with had no prior relationship with him until entering the Tavern. Ted eventually found his way to the unattended mic stand and used that to deliver an important message to the entire bar: “It doesn’t matter a rats ass in a pig fry.” I knew it was time to get some sleep before the race the next day.

 

3:00AM — Runners emerged from the darkness to gather under the start sign. I stumbled through the field trying to find Alicia and Dave and to wish those I knew good luck as I had an idea of what they were in for today.

4:00AM — Runners lined up and began what would be a transformative experience. Traveling 100 miles on foot in one shot will change who you are and what you think is possible and for many they were about to find this out on their own.

 

Fellow Mainer Beau Langevin sharing a few steps with his daughter during his second pass through the 10 Bear aid station.

 

Crewing is a waiting game which left time to take pictures of things like tractors.

 

I first met Chip when he ran the 50 Miler at the Farm to Farm Ultra Race I direct in the fall. Chip finished the 50 miler notching a PR for himself that day and I remember giving him a ride  just a few 100 yards to his car so he could make the drive back to Central Maine. I last ran into Chip during the Maine 100 Miler in May and walked with him for a few minutes to catch up. I was happy to see that everything clicked for Chip at Vermont this year as he notched his first 100 mile race finish.

 

The field at the Margaritaville aid station after enjoying dinner and a beer at Harpoon Brewing with Dave. This would be the last aid station before pacing duties started.

 

 

Alicia and Dave are amazing people. I have been coaching Alicia for 2 years now so I jumped at the opportunity to pace her the last 30 miles of her first 100 mile attempt. She had an injury after her last long run, so what would have been a structured taper before the race turned into taking the final 3 weeks completely off before attempting this race.

There were brief moments throughout the day where you could see her slowly realizing that she was moving closer and closer to a goal that she had been dreaming about for years. We had a plan for her going into this race and she executed it throughout the day so that when I started pacing  her she had banked a comfortable amount of time well ahead of the cutoffs. As the miles ticked by Alicia would ask me throughout the night and into the morning, “Are we okay?” She was still asking me this question when we hit the last aid station just 2.5 miles from the finish.

The last few miles seemed to last forever but when we made the last turn towards the finish we were greeted by her daughter holding a sign she had made with her name in big letters.

Watching her finish will remain one of the proudest moments of my life as a coach. Choking back tears I watched as her and Dave embraced, celebrating her finish as both knew the sacrifice that went into making it possible. I wish I had more time to stay and watch the awards to see her get her first buckle but I had to drive directly from Vermont to Boston to catch a flight to Vancouver for vacation and my own race at Buckin’ Hell 50K.

2 Comments

  1. Alicia MacLeay Alicia MacLeay

    Thank you, Brendan! You were a perfect pacer and I feel extremely fortunate to have had both you and Dave with me (at least figuratively) for the entirety of this race. It was truly a gift to have you and all of your talent, experience, patience, and kindness by my side for those final 30 miles (plus the many that have come before) to help me achieve such a big goal. I’m feeling a bit misty-eyed just thinking about it again. Thank you!

  2. Charlotte MacLeay Charlotte MacLeay

    Thanks for guiding our daughter-in-law through this extraordinary experience. With such great support from you and Dave, she accomplished an extraordinary challenge. Knowing you and Dave were on the course and keeping an eye on her helped her family members get some sleep during the race!

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