January 18, 2010
By: Elizabeth Howell
Who’s crazier? The endurance rider or runner?
Here in Vermont, there’s an annual event I have volunteered at for several years. It caters to two groups of elite athletes. It’s the Vermont 100 Mile Endurance Race.
There are actually two races happening simultaneously: one for runners and one for riders.
I have only ever participated in two sports: horseback riding and running. This event is the most fascinating apex of the two. When you pull into the parking area (a huge field) there are tents, portable paddocks and horse trailers. The runners are as fascinated by the horses as the riders are by the runners. There is one thing these two groups have in common: no fear of porta-potties.
I am one of the few people I’ve encountered at these events that has a foot in each sport. I’m no ultrarunner, but I have run (jogged—slowly) three marathons and a dozen or so half-marathons. Going to an ultramarathon is sort of like watching a grand-prix. It’s one of the most extreme events in the sport.
This year, the event takes place on July 17, and the starting line is in South Woodstock, Vermont. South Woodstock is the postcard-Vermont you’d imagine when fantasizing about moving to the country: stunning views of green mountains; bubbling brooks; old, well-tended red barns and valleys dotted with wildflowers.