The warmth and humidity did not make for ideal conditions at this year’s Vermont 100, but the race saw some extraordinary performances. After a fast start to the men’s race, some early leaders tailed off or dropped out. The women’s race was dominated by the final top three, but the exact order was up in the air for many hours. And in the 100k, the course record-holder returned to take on the competition and his best time. Find recaps of all the races below, starting with the men’s 100-miler, or skip to the women’s 100-miler or the 100k race. Full results are available here.
Men’s 100-mile recap
With four miles to go in the 2013 Vermont 100, Jason Lantz had a comfortable hold on second place. Nick Clark, the third-place runner, was more than 20 minutes behind. Chad Ricklefs, a two-time winner of the Leadville 100 and former Ultrarunner of the Year, was three minutes ahead.
But rather than be content with second, Lantz continued a push that had started about 30 miles earlier. With less than two miles to go, he finally caught and passed Ricklefs. On a hot and humid day, Lantz crossed the finish line in 15:23:26, about three minutes ahead of Ricklefs and a half hour ahead of Clark.
“I did not expect to win,” Lantz said after the race. He probably wasn’t the only one. Lantz has built a remarkable running resume over the past few years, including a win at the Massanutten 100 in 2012 and second at the Vermont 100 in 2009, but this year’s Vermont 100 featured an exceptional field. A number of well-known ultrarunners from around New England and the rest of the U.S. toed the starting line, including—in addition to the top three finishers—Ian Sharman, Brian Rusiecki, Josh Katzman, Justin Angle, Michael Dixon, Nick Pedatella, and Sebastian Roulier.
The humidity made it a tough day to race, but that’s exactly what Lantz wanted. “I was kind of hoping it’d be humid, because everyone from the West wouldn’t be as used to it,” he said. “I’m fine with humidity. I live in Pennsylvania.” Nick Clark said that the conditions definitely added to the challenge. “The humidity was brutal,” he said.
Lantz ran well from the start, but Ricklefs looked like he might run away with the race earlier in the day. Ricklefs has had a long and accomplished career in ultrarunning, including the 2011 World Master’s 100k Championship. Early in the race, he trailed Michael Dixon and Sebastien Roulier. But by the time the runners reached Camp 10 Bear, 47.6 miles into the race, Ricklefs had taken the lead. Dixon fell off his early pace, reaching Camp 10 Bear in ninth place, where he dropped. Roulier slowed but went on to finish seventh overall.
Ricklefs looked strong as he built his lead over Lantz. After starting a little slower than the early leaders, Lantz was in the top three for most of the day. He passed through roughly the halfway mark smiling and talking comfortably with Clark. Just after mile 70, Lantz hit a rough patch, but he suddenly started feeling better. When he came into Bill’s aid station at mile 89.5, he asked how far behind he was. When he heard the lead was only 10 minutes, he realized he might have a shot at the win and began pushing the pace, hitting the downhills particularly hard.
“This feels really good,” Lantz said after the race. “This is a great race.” He plans to return to Vermont in September for the Vermont 50. “I love this state,” he said.
The names at the top of the women’s leaderboard remained fairly constant throughout the race, but the final order wasn’t determined until late in the day.
About 22.5 miles into the race, Amy Rusiecki—who finished second at last year’s race—was in the lead, with Traci Falbo in second and Larisa Dannis in third. Ten miles later, Falbo had taken the lead and Dannis had moved up to second. When they reached Camp 10 Bear for the first time, at mile 47.6, Falbo had built an 18-minute lead. But Dannis looked strong as she hustled out of the aid station, and she gradually gained ground. When they returned to Camp 10 Bear, about 23 miles later, she trailed Falbo by only five minutes. Not long after passing the three-quarters mark, Dannis passed Falbo. She held onto first the rest of the way. Rusiecki momentarily dropped into fourth place behind last year’s winner, Kathleen Cusick, about halfway through the race, but she eventually regained third place and remained there to the finish.
Dannis, from Manchester, N.H., is very familiar with the course. She ran the 100k course in 2010 and the 100-miler the past two years, finishing twelfth in 2011 and sixth in 2012. Since last year’s race, she has won the Beast of Burden winter 50-miler, finished second at the Zion 100-miler, and, just last month, won the Crossan Cup at the Mount Washington Road Race as the first woman from New Hampshire. The victory at Vermont was her first 100-mile win.
The 100k turned out to be a two-man (and one-woman) race. Leigh Schmitt and Lon Freeman battled it out for first place. Freeman held a consistent lead on Schmitt for much of the day and crossed the line in 10:17, about 12 minutes before Schmitt. It wasn’t the first time these two have dueled, as they have often competed against each other in races in the Bay Area of California.
For Schmitt, the race was a return to an old stomping ground. He grew up in New England and holds the course records at the Vermont 100 in both the 100k and 100-mile races. But on this day, he said after the race, he definitely struggled. “It was bit of a slog today,” he said. Like many other runners, he noted that the humidity didn’t help. “I think I’ve gone California-soft,” he joked. “We’ve been back east for a week and a half, and I thought I would acclimate.”
The third-place finisher came as a bit of a surprise. Fifty-seven year old Dawn Hamel, who traveled from Ontario for the race, toughed out the conditions to win the women’s race and finish third overall. She wasn’t aware that she was in third place overall until after crossing the finish line, but she said she felt pretty good most of the day. “I was really happy with my downhills,” she said not long after crossing the finish line and being greeted by her daughter and grandchildren. “I really tried to relax on them, and that really worked. The uphills I walked, because that’s what I had to do.” The race, she said, was a warm-up for the Cascade Crest 100 in Washington State next month. She also noted that it was quite a showing for the small town of Orilla, where she lives, as another Orilla runner, Adam Hill, finished sixth in the 100-miler.