Champlain XC places 1st in 100on100 Relay

Champlain XC placed 1st in the Ultra (3-person) relay at the 100on100 Relay from Stowe, VT to Okemo, VT on August, 17th. The race is 100 miles mostly on VT route 100. The race is divided into 18 different legs ranging from 4-8 miles each. The Champlain XC team consisted of Brian Culmo (’15), Bret Dewhurst and Matt Angelo. Each runner ran 6 legs of the relay on the day for a total mileage between 32 and 36 miles each. Their overall finish time was 12 hours 32 minutes, averaging a 7:40 mile pace over the 100 mile course. The team was supported by Nick Pugliese (’13) and Anthony Tognelli (’17) who acted as drivers for team vehicle, as well as giving well needed encouragement and support throughout. The race, which also includes 6-person relay teams was a fun day with constant cheering on from the 150+ other teams on course.  The beautiful Vermont scenery, fun atmosphere and enthusiastic team members made for a great day of racing. ImageImageImage

50 Miles

My day started at 4:45, so I could get up for a 6am start. I knew it was going to be a long day from the beginning. Little did I know how long it really was going to be. The Peak Races 50 miler was my first ultramarathon; for anybody who doesn’t know an ultramarathon is anything over 26.2 miles. I decided to put myself up to this after looking for the next big challenge after tackling pretty much every other distance including 2 marathons. I have found big goals have helped keep me motivated, and the 50 miler has been by far the biggest.

The first 20 miles flew by in this race. All I remember is that there was a river crossing at mile 2, which left my feet perpetually wet for the remainder of the race. My wet and beaten feet would later wreck havoc on my performance, but more on that later. I ran what I thought was within myself for the first 20 miles. I ran on flats and down the hills. I ran up gentle inclines and walked the steep parts. I was feeling good. I made friends with a few other runners. The company of Larissa, Terrence and Graham helped the miles fly by. When I hit the aid station at mile 18, all was doing good, I was in the top 5 for the race. I stopped and ate some food, Gatorade and I refilled with water in my camelback, in anticipation of the fabled blood route section which was 8 or maybe 13 miles (I was really confused and unsure of exactly how long it was at the time) of unaided wilderness. Almost immediately after leaving that aid station is when things began to fall apart. Climbing up the hills became tough, as the hills became mountains and never ending. The weird thing that happened was on the flats or downhill sections, even on the road, running became painful. Cramps and bloated feelings in my stomach hampered my ability to stride out at all. Then the real climb came. At mile 23, it was the start of a massive climb up to the Blood Route Gap. It was a never-ending grind of 2 or 3 miles and probably 2000ft vertical gain. Because I was starting to hurt before this climb, the wheels really came off during it. My pace goals and ambitions for a good finish fell through going up that climb. The top of the Blood Route Gap marked the half way point, and I reached it in under 6 hours, I’m not completely sure on the exact time. I spent almost the entirety of the climb and the following 3 hours essentially by myself in the Blood Route wilderness. I hobbled myself down the steep hills and tried my best to run on the flat sections. Walking up any incline was a given from this point on. My bloating and cramping prevented me from executing my nutrition plan I set for myself. I felt so sick, I really couldn’t stomach any food, although I probably should have forced it. My thoughts were to flush out the bad system in me, and build up from there. Unfortunately the bad system took 6 or 8 hours to go away.

The day was hot. The high was 92 degrees. That is not ideal for any running, let alone 50 miles. I thought I was drinking enough water from my camelback, but who knows if it was actually enough. By the time I reached the 30 mile aid station, I was struggling pretty bad. Almost any running was out of the question at this point. My feet had begun to get really bad. I felt they were really pruned from the prolonged wetness, and I could feel blisters on all my toes, and both my heels. The feet hurt a lot during any type of running even on flat or on the road. Hiking, was about all I could handle. I was quite delirious at mile 30. I couldn’t really comprehend much, and I didn’t really want to interact with people too much. All my physical energy was going towards pushing my body to the finish, and all my mental energy was devoted to convincing myself I could do it. The mental struggle I had with myself was immense and like nothing I have ever had. I had to stay extremely positive and persistent despite terrible circumstances and immense challenges. Leaving mile 30 was extremely difficult. I was practically in tears as I limped down the road away from the aid station.

The next 6 mile stretch was another brutal hill section. There were 2 massive hills, and the trail seemed to never end. Eventually I made it to the mile 37 aid station. I had slowed significantly by this point, reduced to a slow walk most of the time. In the woods I had conceded a strong finish, and my only goal was to get myself to the finish line. I no longer cared about my time and was determined to drag myself to the finish even if I had to walk the remainder of the course. I was going to finish the race, even though it was killing me. I never let doubt set in. At mile 37 I was pleasantly surprised by my friend Matt and his brother Drew. I was not expecting to see them and it was a huge pick me up at a time where I desperately needed it. All my support throughout the day helped me get through the race so much. My Dad, my Aunt and Bret were there the entire day to give me support and motivation. I saw them probably 8 or so times, and it was always great to have people there for me. After talking with them after the race, it sounds they also helped quite a few other runners on the course too including saving multiple runners from extreme dehydration threats. I truly could not have done this race without their help.

The next 3 mile road section downhill back to the start line before the final 10 mile loop should have been easy. It wasn’t. I could only manage a shuffle; it was really pathetic in hindsight. I eventually got back to the start, and had a talk with Larissa, who just won the race (Remember, I ran with her for like 20 miles).  She just powered through the course without really slowing down it seems. She was a beast. I then had to muster up courage to tackle the final 10 mile loop left. This loop was rough. It started with a 2 mile steep climb to a pinnacle, and then meandered down again with a lot of switchbacks.

I just grinded up the mountain, this time deciding to grab a few sticks from the woods as trekking poles. The poles helped immensely. They took weight off my ailing feet, and put my fresher arms to work. At the beginning of the final loop I realized I would end up having to run in the dark. Luckily I had a headlamp which I borrowed from Matt. At the top of the climb I met back up with 2 other racers in the simultaneous 30 mile race. Mike and Joe were just hiking due to their own injuries, so we decided to stick together, as I couldn’t handle much more that a hike at this point. Mike and Joe were great company to have and really helped get me through the last 8 or so miles.

At about 6 miles to go, a woman behind us began to struggle a lot. She basically collapsed sighting dizziness and lightheadedness. We had to stop and help her get back to a coherent state. She was really hurting and we gave her Gatorade and water. She eventually started feeling better and we decided to make sure she made it down the hill. We hiked with for a few miles, and she started feeling better and hiking faster.

Then it got dark. Things got really interesting when the sun went down around 8:30. The major problem for me was that Mike, Joe, and the women, Jessica didn’t have any headlamps. I was going to have to lead them through the dark. Once it started getting dark, I actually started feeling better. It was weird the last 5 miles I felt better than I had in the previous 30 miles. It became apparent that Jessica was slowing down again and, I decided the best thing for me to do was push on to the finish myself and get Jessica more direct help. I knew the last 2-3 miles switched back a lot and geographically wasn’t far from the finish. I knew if I could finish and get Jessica help, she would be better off, then me leading her very slowly the last 2 miles in the dark. I knew I couldn’t handle another hour in the woods. I needed to take care of my completely broken body and get myself to the finish.

The last 2 miles I suddenly had a huge strong kick. I started running again, focusing on getting myself to the finish. I have no idea how I was able to run at all at the end, but I somehow managed. It could have been my stress regarding Jessica’s situation, the closeness to the finish, or the darkness around me, but I managed to run really fast at the end of the race.

I finished the race in 15 hours 46 minutes. The finish time was a little off my 10 hour goal, but I didn’t care. The last 10 mile loop took me 4 and a half hours alone. When I finished I couldn’t even comprehend what I was done with. My focus was to get help for Jessica. I told the race director, and eventually someone went to go get her help. I found out later Jessica did finish the race, somehow, a full hour after I came through.

The ultimate goal of finishing was accomplished. That was the most important thing, and I did it. I am so incredibly proud of myself for pushing myself like I never have beyond my limits. The race was much more difficult than I ever could have anticipated. I never expected to have to handle the amount of hills I conquered, or lose the ability to run at all. I ran until my body physically wouldn’t allow it anymore, then I did another 20 miles. The 50 miler allowed me to prove I am physically and mentally capable of putting myself through amazing feats.

I would like to thank everyone who came out to support me on race day, and all the racers who I had the pleasure to run with. I could not have done this race on my own, and camaraderie at ultramarathons is unequalled. Congratulations to everyone who finished at the Peak Races UltraMarathon 2013, it was one for the books.

-Brian

Vermont City Marathon Report

Vermont City Marathon celebrated its 25th Anniversary this year with special guests Jeff Galloway, Bill Rogers, Frank Shorter and Bart Yasso joining in with the 8,000 runners, 20,000 spectators, and 1,500 volunteers.  It is simply the biggest race in the state of Vermont in sheer numbers and popularity.

This year, we had the largest number of students, alumni, staff and faculty who ran the race, totaling about 20 overall runners.  “VCM” is without a doubt one of my favorite times of the year, and I appreciate the time and effort that is required to train for this challenging course.  The hills aren’t brutal, but they require adequate training to be successful.

Sophomore’s Everett (4:02:53) and Elias (4:16:40)  tackled the full marathon along with recent graduate, Dayna (5:05:42).  Brian/Eric (3:59:02) and Kevin (3:46:45), along with myself & Darin (3:48:20), completed the 1/2 marathon and all runners placed well.  Several recent graduates, including Rachel (4:05:14), Adam (3:40:19) completed the course as well.  (Times for 1/2 marathoners are combined)

Every year, the weather is varied, but this year had one of the worst conditions in recent history.  The team met in Battery Park at 7:00am to light rain and 41 degrees.  The temperature stayed about the same for the entire race and wind and rain made conditions rather challenging.  Temperature was perfect for the run, but rain/wind made things exceptionally challenging to keep warm, especially while getting ready for the 8:03am start time.

This event provides closure to a successful year, and will continue to remain a tradition for CCXC to participate in.

VCM is around the corner

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Next week is Memorial Day, and you know what that means… Marathon weekend in Burlington. Vermont City Marathon here we come! We got a couple 2 person relay teams running and a few people doing the full 26.2 for the first time!

 

Rollin Irish Half Marathon

This past Saturday was the Rollin Irish Half Marathon. We had 5 people complete the hilly 13.1 mile curse in Essex, Vermont. Eric Heiman, Dayna Comeau, and Ethan Farmer all completed their first ever Half Marathon. Brian Culmo and Elias Connolly also ran great. We had multiple top 3 finishes in age group races. Brian Culmo placed 5th overall and 3rd in the 20-29 age group with a time of 1:22:53. Ethan and Eli took 2-3 in the under 20 age group with times of 1:41:06 and 1:53:23 respectively. Dayna finished in 1:59:34 and Eric ran 2:00:43. The course was tough with some classic Vermont hills on mostly dirt roads, and the wind became a factor in the last 3 miles with a strong headwind. The race was a culmination of a semester of training for the team throughout the cold winter. The team’s hard efforts paid off on Saturday with these great results. Much of the team is now shifting focus to the Vermont City Marathon at the end of May where we have some people competing in the full 26.2 for the first time as well as a number of 2-person relay teams. From there it will be on to summer training 

-Brian 

We’re Back!

Winter break is long gone and we’re getting back into the swing of things here at Champlain: classes, homework, cross country, and squeezing a social life somewhere in there, too. We’re now in Week Two of pre-training for the marathon (half marathon for some of us, full for a few others). Having a set training schedule is really helpful when you’re busy with so many other things; it can be hard to gather the initial motivation to step out of my warm, cozy dorm room, so that gives me the push that I sometimes need. Plus, once I’m out there, I remember how nice it is to be able to get outside and away from the piles of work in front of me, to clear my mind and hang out with my teammates instead of staring at my computer screen.

This is my first winter in Burlington. You know those times when people warn you about something, and you say Yeah, yeah, I know it’s cold in Vermont, I’ve heard all about it. And then you get there, and right around January expletives start streaming out of your mouth because you can’t feel your face/ears/hands anymore. No? Just me? Whatever. What I’m saying here is, it’s cold. There’s no getting around that. But after I got over the initial shock and stopped shouting swearwords, I realized it’s not quite as horrifying as I thought. I tend to find that I might be cold for the first five, maybe ten, minutes of a run, and then I’m fine. Once you get started and get in your own little zone, whatever’s surrounding you doesn’t matter all that much. And we just got awesome sweatshirts that my co-captain Brian designed. AND your friends will think you’re a total badass for running in 10 degree weather. Badass or crazy, maybe. I don’t know. Either way you’ll seem cool, I swear.

An Introduction

Hi everyone! I’m Alicia Tatone, a first-year Professional Writing student at Champlain College and a co-captain of the XC team. When I’m not running I like to read, write, draw, and take long walks on the beach… wait, nevermind. This isn’t that kind of site. Anyway, I’ll be popping up on here somewhat frequently for the next couple of months, posting updates about my training for the VCM Half Marathon in May. I ran cross country and track all throughout high school, and continuing to do so since coming to Champlain last fall has been wonderful, but this is something entirely new for me. I’ve never considered racing to be my foremost priority as a runner – it’s something I do as a part of my team and to work on improving myself, for sure, but it’s not why I run. I didn’t decide to run this half marathon to finish in first place, to win a medal or a prize (although, admittedly, prizes are pretty cool… I wouldn’t mind winning a pie at some point). Those things matter to some extent, but what matters most to me is challenging myself. I know that I’m capable of running 13.1 miles, and I’m going to prove it to myself. I’m going to do it.

With that said, what I’m setting out to accomplish is easier said than done. Most goals are. There are always obstacles, distractions, something or other that can stand in my way if I let it. That stuff tends to make me a little nervous, as by nature I’m easily distracted. I get excited about something, decide to focus on it, then get excited about another thing and then another thing and then I might lose track of at least one of those super cool things. Thankfully, though, that’s where the Champlain XC Team comes and swoops in to my rescue. Having a team full of awesome people, all set on achieving similar goals, is so helpful when trying to accomplish something. Running with a few other people, or even just one other person to keep you company, is exponentially better than running alone. It’s always nice to have someone to share conversation (or perhaps misery, if you’re running hills or some other particularly gruesome workout) with. That, along with having a training plan that spans from the time I go back to school after winter break right up until the race in May, is how I know I’ll stick with what I set out to do. Having the sort of support system that a team provides is pretty awesome. Also, pasta parties. Pasta parties are awesome too.

Green Mountain Marathon and Half Marathon

The Green Mountain Marathon and Half marathon was held on Sunday, Oct 14th in South Hero, VT. Brian Culmo (’15) ran in the half marathon and came in 5th place overall, and 2nd in the 20-29 age group. He ran a personal best time of 1:23:19. The course was very flat but strong headwinds from the open fields and lake nearby caused issues for all the runners for about 5 miles on the way back on the out and back course. The rest of the team was volunteering at a water station for the half and full marathon. Everyone braved the cool temperatures, wind and occasional rain to aid the runners of both races. The team stood outside for the good part of 6 hours, but everyone seemed to have a good time volunteering and hanging with each other.

Art Tudhope 10k

It was just Brian Culmo running at the Art Tudhope 10k in Shelbourne, VT on Oct 6th. the race was held near Shelbourne orchards and the lake on mostly flat dirt road. Brian ran the 10k course in a personal best 37:25 coming in 3rd place overall.  the ominous rain held off, but the winds did not as the returning 3 miles in the out and back course featured a strong headwind to contend with. The flat course offered a chance for fast times and the racing did not disappoint.

Spartan Beast, Part 2

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Authors Note: There are specific details, stories, quotes and other happenings that you won’t find in this post, or any post due to the agreement we made before the race began; what is said and done on the course, stays on the course.  That agreement, created in blood and sweat, we honor to the grave, so information provided below is edited for content.  In addition, Miles 3-9 were mostly a blur to us all, and information might be presented out of chronological order.

The six of us arrived at the 1:00pm start line about 8 minutes early; hoping that they wouldn’t give the same speech to us that they did in the morning; an overdressed “Spartan” reading from a script about leading the troops into battle and that not all of us would return; but instead be just a memory.  Half of us, who have completed Tough Mudder would argue that this start wasn’t looking promising, and to be honest, we weren’t really paying attention. 

The race began with 500 people rushing the start line through clouds of smoke and fire and an audience of about 1,000 people cheering on the last set of runners to hit the course.  The time: 1:03pm.  When the six of us crossed the start line, we didn’t realize that it would be pitch back before we would cross the final obstacles.  Spartan, like all adventure races, attempt to make you miserable, cold and muddy right off the bat.  During a slight uphill we jumped in and over three trenches about 6 feet in length and 10 feet apart through waist deep muddy water and nearly inescapable mudslides if you fell in.  Everett took lead and instead of trying to jump over, decided to nearly cannonball into the first chasm.  Two fire hoses shot into the air and on all of us and less than 1/10th of a mile in, we were drenched and cold.

Slowing climbing one of the slopes we began a series of over/under obstacles; over 3-6 foot walls and under cargo nets, back and forth until we were about 1/4 of the way up the first peak.  We were then greeted with more trenches, about 4x as big as the first, requiring you to trudge through waist deep water for about 20 feet or so.  It was here that we were presented with our first view, even though we were still far from the first peak.  A 12 foot cargo net was next, and it was the only thing holding us back from our second major climb to near the top of the first section of Killington.  At the 2/3 mark of the first peak, we ducked under about 50 feet on barbed wire hidden on the course, where Spencer took a nice chunk of flesh out of his forehead; the makings of hopefully a badass scar.

Up this climb, we also tackled two 7-foot walls, me nearly killing Nick and breaking his shoulder, and other racers helping us climb and help each other over the wall.  The walls were the first obstacle we were required to be creative with, and doing this particular race on ones own had to have been a challenge.

The walls marked our last uphill climb for a little while and we completed our first mud crawl and monkey bars obstacles.  The mud crawls have and will always be one of my favorite obstacles.  You’re crawling in mud, water, grass and most importantly; jagged rocks.  The barbed wire fluctuated from being around 9-12 inches off the ground, and trying to get through with a Camelbak posed a challenge for some of us.  The easy method: tuck and roll… and roll and roll and roll.

The obstacles were easy.  They weren’t always simplistic to complete on the first time; requiring 30 burpees per fair, but the obstacles were the easy part of Spartan.  The hills; the HILLS would be the actual challenge.  After climbing the first three miles or so, it was safe to say that on our first major descent towards the start line, that while we were looking forward to what the Beast could offer us, we were hurting.  Mile four marked two more obstacles; a traverse walk (think horizontal rock climbing) and the first rope climb.  The traverse wall got half of us, and out of any obstacles we failed going forward, I think this was the one that was the most frustrating.  Eddie and Jordan were waiting for us at this point and we took a picture break before we continued on for Miles 4-14.

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Team Eye Sex completed the first four miles in a horrifically slow time; but time wasn’t the point.  Our objectives were finish line or die, time was irrelevant.  Mile 4 marked another mud crawl, an opportunity for us to stay cold and muddy, and this time it was all uphill.  Imagine being on your hands and knees, being sprayed with cold water, covered in mud and climbing uphill on your stomach.  For the average person; this sounded to be a nightmare; for most of us – another Saturday adventure race.  For Brian, a perfect opportunity for Eye Sex.

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It was during this moment that Nick and I plowed into each other, Everett screamed when his bandana got caught on the wire (NBLB = No Bandana Left Behind) and Spencer and Devin were rolling along trying to get up the muddy hill.  Getting through the barbed wire probably took us about 15-20 minutes before we began our second climb up the second-highest peak at the mountain.  We were expecting to go straight to the top when a sudden turn brought us back down once more to face the obstacle we were the most familiar with from the morning session: The Tarzan Swing.  An obstacle that more than 80% of people failed in the morning was more challenging doing it, than watching it.  Call it exhaustion, call it a lack of endurance; I’d prefer to call it a one-way trip to Burpee Island for more of us.  Worth it.  I actually enjoy burpees, although after the entire course, I don’t think any of us enjoy them anymore.

After Tarzan Swing, the beast was winning, but we weren’t giving up.  A hike through the woods in flat and slightly uphill sections lead to us a 150lb boulder on a pulley that we had to pull up 20 feet and then set it down nicely; “Don’t just drop it!” the stoner-of-a-volunteer yelled at us.  It was here that Everett learned the difference between pink and blue and just because he wanted to lift the boulder that matched his camelback and bandana; man needs to read/listen to instructions so he doesn’t have to do certain obstacles more than once.  After the boulder, another steep climb, through the woods; rounding out Mile 5.  In front of us a board with 100 combinations; a word followed by a seven digit number.  We were instructed to memorize this number and we’d have to repeat it “much, much later” down the course.  Hotel 143 5526.  I’ll never forget it.

More obstacles; mostly ones none of us remember their existence or order they came in came through Miles 7-9 until we reached the Sandbags.  Challenge: take a 70 pound sand bag up a steep hill, get your picture taken, then bring the bag back down the mountain.  Exhaustion was pretty abundant at this point but we all thrusted through it; we had no choice.  Another lifting challenge, then a water challenge on a singular rope out to hit a bell and swim back.  Darkness was beginning to set in, and head lamps and glowsticks were now going to be required for the remainder of the race.  After search for my headlamp, I came to the realization that I left it in the car and started popping 20-30 glowsticks to hand out, hopefully no one on the course noticing that I didn’t have a head lamp.

We splashed through more mud, up some hills, down home hills and entered the final wooded climb.  I love rock climbing and I love hiking, but this wasn’t either.  This was a full-blown scaling the side of the mountain one foot at a time, climbing over 2,000 feet in less than 2 miles.  I speak for the group that this was a breaking point for most of us, and constantly looking straight up seeing climbers 30-40 feet from you nearly above your head and line of vision was nauseating.  It was without a doubt one of the toughest parts of the day, and at this point – it was near blackness.  At least an hour into the climb, if not more we emerged at the top, and the sky opened.  There’s a difference between rain in your daily commute, or running from building to building, and when you’re at the top of the mountain with no cover or protection and your only direction to go is down.

Rain, appropriately enough made the final obstacles a bit more challenging; my personal favorite being the log jump – a series of 7 logs in a row you had to jump one by one to get to the other side without falling.  I think we all passed it.  Another steep climb, after we had thought to be at the top brought us up the actual peak, and the pouring rain; the combination of being 12 miles into the Beast and the temperature averaging just at 50 degrees made the final descent to be freezing.

The last two miles needs no words, and I don’t want to go into much detail on this part of the course, but we’re still having dreams about it.  Think a 2-mile long mudslide down the mountain on trails; hearing ankles and bones popping, screaming people, sliding down 10-20 feet at a time only to find a tree to grab onto and stopping yourself, and doing so without a headlamp.  For Everett’s sake, for proof in writing; Everett was my hero at this point.  Did we all have support from each other on the course and did we meet some very nice girls (Hi Candy, Hi Jennifer) – yes.  But Everett stepped up and was my shining light down this final hill so I could see.  If only he read instructions and stopped doing the “Ladies” section of each of the lifting obstacles, I would’ve given him the “I saved your life” he so desperately wants, but alas – we all have our faults.

It wasn’t until this final descent that we split up; not for any other reason but our safety.  This was extremely dangerous, unbelievably stupid, and made us never want to run in the dark in the race again.  A few more obstacles, throwing a Javelin that I think we all failed (did anyone do burpees on this?) and jumping over the final firepit to end at the finish line. 

There was no grace, there was no sense of entitlement, and all inhibitions we may have had with one another were thrown away at the start line.  We all had breaking points, we all had a sense of fear down that final mountain.  We finished together because we started together; we had a goal and we accomplished it.  Spartan’s slogan is, “You’ll Know at the Finish Line.”  Undeniably true statement.

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Part 3 this weekend, after thoughts, final pictures, etc.

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