Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Rise Up Vermont!

If you really want to know what kind of friends you've got, drop them off on a mountain in Vermont and tell them you'll see them in 3 hours, 15 or so miles up the mountain. If your friends are happy-to-downright-giddy at the prospect, you might have Rise Up Runners for pals.

At 5:30 a.m. on Sunday, September 28, Team Rise Up Runners got out of the car at Mount Ascutney to find food, coffee, and get the Vermont 50 mile trail run underway as a 3-person relay. This is one of those trips that seemed like it had been on the books for a year, but would never actually get here. But before I'd even finished my coffee (coffee "plus," which means coffee and bagels), we were walking outside to watch the mountain bike race start and then wishing Katherine Binder well and cheering her off at the start at 6:40 a.m.

Some serious "bling!" Is that Electra-Woman or Dyna-Girl? Katherine gets ready to roll up the mountain.

Katherine's husband Rob is probably still driving back and forth between the Hartness House in Springfield, Vermont, and the Mt. Ascutney Resort in Brownsville. If he isn't, I am positive he can still see it in his mind. Staying 20 minutes or so from the race, we had a less than perfect scheme for shuttling runners and spouses, but we decided early on to whisk the weary-having-finished runners back to the hotel to change and shower after their leg, before cruising back to make the next switch. All in all a solid plan.

Talking shop the day before, Katherine hoped she'd see us after her 12.3 mile leg by 9:00 a.m. We arrived at the Skunk Hollow aid station, where she'd make the tag to Keene at around 8:45 or so. The mountain bikers, who'd had the earlier start were coming in strong, as were some speedy runners. We heard runners coming in a fair amount slower than they anticipated, per mud and hard climbing, and guessed Katherine might be a bit behind where she hoped. You could see runners coming around a school yard before they reached the aid station, and Katherine's white shirt bounded by the fence at almost 9 a.m. on the nose. She tagged Keene at 9:02, and the Wood Frog hopped toward more climbing. Katherine grabbed some aid station grub, caught her breath, and filled us in on course and run details that included hands-on-the-ground in front of her climbing in places, fast downhills that turned into walking only climbs, and a scenic course. She completely rocked our lead-off leg, and nailed the time she wanted to make, right on the nose. Way to go, Katherine!

Happy Katherine and her husband Rob at Skunk Hollow aid station, after tagging Keene into action for leg 2 of the relay.

I have no doubt that the Wood Frog will clue everyone in to the details of his hopping adventures on his blog, but I have already spoiled the ending of his 17.9 mile leg to Dugdale's aid station, where leg three of the relay began. Suffice it to say here, that Keene made it, bounding (and I mean BOUNDING) down the hill to make the tag in a crazy 3 hours. The second leg had some ridiculous climbing (okay, so each leg had wicked climbing!) and Keene hoped aloud the day before to finish his leg in 3 hours, thinking that might be asking too much. Not at all, my friend. When the chips come down on race day, Keene and his high energy, and climbing quads always find a way to deliver. He claimed to be undertrained for longer running, having added biking and swimming to his training this year, but there was no evidence of any let up. A stellar run, Keene!

And so leg three is underway, with Valliant off on the last 19.8 miles, looking to anchor the Rise Up Runners relay team. Again, a bit anti-climactic, since the finish photo has been up on the site. You know we finish in about 9 hours. You know we end up with shiny medals, smiling faces, and Harpoon I.P.A. on draft. But what happens during the last leg? What does Valliant learn from the mysterious and fleet-footed bearded man? Does he bank a mountain biker, steal some wheels, and ride on to the finish? For those answers, you'll have to change the dial over to The 4-1-Run... (you didn't know this was going to be a three-blog relay, did you? ;)

Team Rise Up Runners finishes the Vermont 50-mile relay in just over 9 hours, giving the RUR crew 3rd relay team overall out of 13 teams. Full results can be found here. Robin and Mike Valliant, Katherine Binder and Rob Forloney, and Michael Keene and Carita Crawford-Keene pose for posterity before finding the Harpoon I.P.A. draft, food, and seeking shelter from the coming monsoon-like rain.


LORI said...

you guys look good! if it weren't for the medals, i'd say this were a pre-race photo op. :)
can't wait for more details. sounds like you did a great job based on time. sorry to hear about the cramping mike.

stephen bardsley said...

BAD ASS!!!!!!

Michael Valliant said...

So true, Lori - the advantage of running one of the earlier legs is that you can go back to the hotel, shower and change! I didn't get that part ;)