I will continuously give Brian a hard time for this race for taking the “scenic route” around and around the mountain with cute little uphills and downhills, but to give credit where it’s due, Brian destroyed this beast of a race.
While students were all snuggled up on a brisk Sunday morning, one that required the first sweatshirt of the season, my team captains arrived at my place with breakfast sandwiches in hand, and maybe a bit too much energy. 4:45am is tough on students, and it’s still tough on me, although after a cup of Caribou Coffee and a bite of a Tour de Shiner (bacon, ham, sausage, cheese, hashbrown, roll) we had enough to make our 90 minute drive to Jay Peak. The drive was nice, despite nearly murdering a family of turkeys about 70 minutes in.
Arriving at Jay Peak during the sunrise is something everyone should experience. Rocking a Champlain hoodie, and Spencer wearing a hoodie with a pillow in it (no joke) we were ready to check in at registration and figure out our responsibilities. We knew we were going to hoof it to the top of the mountain, and were prepared to do so, but I somehow dragged this poor woman, Anya into our volunteer group accidentally, and she was forced to hike to the peak with us.
With Brian registered for the race with bib in tow, and Spencer falling asleep at the “Introduction Meeting” – which for the record is sign that the racing staff probably doesn’t know exactly what they’re doing, Spencer, Anya and I began to hoof it to the top. The first mile was pretty easy… access roads and sloped trails until we got about 1/2 way to the peak. From there, it was a grueling mile STRAIGHT up the mountain, no turns, through waist-high brush and slippery rock facades. Basically, bushwhacking.
At the top, our aid station was set up and we were presented with 360 degree view of Vermont and Canada and without question, had the best location for an aid station. We had an EMT there named Steve, or George, or Chris, or something; neither of us can remember. We had water, Gatorade, candy, chips and peanut butter sandwiches, and about 45 minutes in the runners started. I made a comment about how if Brian was in the top 3 at this point I was going to throw him off the mountain, because we both agreed he’d take it easy for at least the first half UP, and when he came through in 5th place, I was happy.
The 25k’ers went and passed and it was an uncomfortable 3.5 hour wait for the next runner to show up, a sign of the first 50k’er. Race Directors gave us two different numbers of runners, so in an uncomfortable exchange of text messages to the RD, I decided to just take charge with Spencer. We rocked it, we had the best EMT to work with, and no one was seriously injured at our station. Reports of bloody feet and maybe a missing arm, but that’s not too bad, right?
In isolation, at the top of the mountain surrounded by Canadians, candy and cowbells, Spencer and I’s conversation turned to food; given it has been 8 hours since we have had any. We took turns shouting out food we were craving. Bacon. Chili. Hot Dogs. Chili Bacon Hot Dogs. Mozzerella Sticks. Mozz Sticks dipped in Chili. Tacos. Anything and everything. This may have been our breaking point of being nice to anyone anymore.
The race went well, and Spencer and I took the tram down to stuff our faces of anything since we hadn’t had any food since 7:00am and it was close to 3:00pm. They messed up Spencer’s pizza, as he called it, and I wouldn’t recommend the pub to anyone who demands average to fast-paced service, but it was a good meal.
For a 15 hour day that featured early mornings, hectic climbing, confusion on the course, poor RD support, awesome EMTs, isolation, Canadians, cowbells, children stealing our candy, and more – it was surprisingly fun. It had it’s ups and downs, but we have stories to share that wouldn’t have if we weren’t there to support Brian. 4th place overall, 1st in his division… looking forward to his, and our teams next race on September 9th – Archie Post.