Sep 17, 2008

Vermont 50 cutoffs. A genuine challenge for me.

Thankfully, there aren't any hills quite this large at the Vermont 50.

After the GT 50 DNF, I was worried - next up on my calendar was yet another 50 mile trail ultra - and my experience in Wyoming told me a lot about what I'm capable of in these races. To be certain, my concern was not about whether or not I could finish it - I *know* I can finish it if I had enough time. My concern was the cutoffs. Vermont is pretty aggressive with them, and if you're halfway through the race and behind a pace required to finish in time, they'll pull you. I honestly don't think I can make those cutoffs.

For a week or two, I was thinking that I'd probably just drop to the 50k, which I'd have no problem finishing. My thought process was that there's no sense in starting a race I couldn't finish, right?

Don't ask me why, because I'm not so sure myself - but one night I was lying in bed and it occurred to me that I'd rather start the 50 miler and DNF than start the 50K and finish.

So as planned, I'm doing the 50-miler next weekend. Today, the race director sent final and official aid station cutoff times, and they'll be pretty aggressive:
Skunk Hollow12.310:10A3:3017.07
Roller Coaster19.411:30A4:5014.95
Smoke Rise25.91:00P6:2014.67

What this basically means is that I'll have to maintain a 14:30 minute/mile pace through the race. If I can do that for 30 miles and get through Dugdale's in time, I'll be able to slow to about 15 minutes per mile and not be timed out..

At the Lake Waramaug 50K this spring, my goal was just to finish as comfortably as possible - and I finished at about a 14:58 pace. I finished my fastest marathon at 13:30 pace. The problem is that both of those races were run on asphalt, and this race is a trail run with 8000' of climbing. I really have to be kicking in order to maintain a 14:30 pace.. it's not going to be easy. I was able to do it for about the first 15 miles at Grand Teton, and that included Fred's mountain. So I know I'll be able to last at least a little while, I just have no idea how long.

My weight this morning was 293 and perhaps I can lose a few lbs before next weekend. That'll definitely help. I have a 20-mile very slow long run scheduled on Sunday which should give me some last-minute time-on-my-feet training. I don't think there's a requirement to carry water bottles or bladders on this race, so that'll help too. And, if there was ever a time in my life (at least up until now) when I'm capable of doing it, it's now.

So the bottom line is that I'm going to do everything I possibly can to stay ahead of the cutoffs next weekend in Vermont. However, I completely expect them to catch up to me so I get pulled. I'm ok with that. It'll become yet another AWESOME training run for a 50-miler that I'll probably will finish, the JFK 50 on November 22.

It is definitely going to be a new experience for me. Racing against an invisible competitor.. the cutoff time.


  1. Hi Steve.

    VT50 is hard with it's cutoffs. My times there are about 1.5 hours slower than most my other 50 milers. Last year i missed the cutoff with just a couple miles to go, the year before i *just* made the cutoff with not a minute to spare. There is a large # of DNFs at that race because of it. Best of luck!

  2. Hi, I live in your area and if you want a pacer for your next event let me know. check me out at

  3. Hi Nicole,

    Thanks for the kind offer. I've been looking forward to meeting more NY-area ultrarunners. I'll be sure to check out your blog..