Rookie husband-wife duo head to the Vermont 100

Astrid and Jon Hoyt

Jon and Astrid Hoyt at the 2013 Moosamaloo Ultra. (Photo by John Izzo. Flagging-tape skirt by Astrid Hoyt.)

The Vermont 100 is one of the oldest and most storied 100-mile races in the country. Every year, hundreds of runners wind through the beautiful back roads and trails of central Vermont hoping to endure one of the toughest and most memorable experiences of their lives. And year after year, many of them return. Of course, every year there are also many new faces in the mix, rookies who line up with butterflies in their stomachs wondering if they have what it takes to run 100 kilometers or 100 miles. This year, husband-wife duo Jon and Astrid Hoyt are two of those rookies. They agreed to share their thoughts with us as they head into their first 100-mile and 100-kilometer races, respectively.

What made you decide to run a 100k or 100-miler?

Astrid: Growing up in New York City, I ran roads as a teenager, but never connected with it. When I got sober, I found I liked trail running. I also figured out pretty quickly that slow was okay and that I could go all day. Hence, I’m working my way up to the full hundred. Also, my folks paced a guy at the second Vermont 100. I’ll never forget the old finish line at Bill’s. It was magical. I was in awe.

Jon: My wife dared me. Ha, ha. Actually, faith.  When I run it’s one of the few times my head gets quiet, and I like to just listen to God. It amazes me that I can do things like this.

What is the longest race you had completed before you signed up for Vermont?

Astrid Hoyt

Astrid at the 2013 Pineland Farms Trail Running Festival—her first ultra.

Astrid: I’ve only done 50ks. The 100k is a big step up.

Jon: Last fall, I ran the Vermont 50.

Why did you choose Vermont for your first 100k or 100-miler?

Astrid: I live in Southern Vermont. We’re only a half-hour from the race. Also, being at Bill’s in 1991 around one in the morning, I thought, I could do this. Ha, ha, we’ll see . . .

Jon: I live in the state and run here a lot, and its one of the oldest in the country. I like that.

Describe what a high mileage week looks like for you. What is the longest training run you will do before the race?

Astrid: My highest mileage weeks peaked at 50 miles. I did a 50k in April and one in late May, followed by back-to-backs. I’m on my feet all day for work as a production potter. 50-mile weeks cooked my butt. I was like a zombie then, working in 90-degree heat with both kilns running. That was all I could maintain and still keep my job!

Jon: This year I have run two 50ks (at Pineland Farms and the TARC spring classic) and a marathon. My biggest training week was around 60 miles, and I average around 30 per week or more.

Who do you generally train with? Will you know others running the race?

Astrid: I run with my doggie girl, Aggie. She’s a collie/shepherd mix from Virginia. She’s the reason I started running again. We run all of our runs together. Sometimes I run with my hubby, Jon. But he’s a touch faster than me. We’re looking forward to seeing so many friends at the 100, both running and volunteering. It’s gonna be a big (quiet) party.

Jon: I train alone most times, and this year I don’t have anybody I know running other than my wife.

As you prepare for the race, are you reading as much as you can about it and about ultras and asking others a lot of questions? Or are you just trying to keep calm by not reading too much?

Astrid: I guess I’m a type A. I want to know as much about the race as I can going in. I’ve devoured dozens of race reports and as much online info as I’ve had time for. I’ve interrogated friends who’ve run both distances. I know a lot can go wrong, so I like to get a handle on the things that are within my control. Before I started to taper, I already had my and my husband’s drop bags packed. I’ve only run half this distance, so maybe the second and third time around, I’ll be less obsessive. I’m sure my husband hopes so!

Jon: Haaa. Yes, both!!! I didn’t think I was getting in. I was on the stand by list, and was training for it, but didn’t think I was in until a little while ago.

Are your friends and family supportive of you running the race or do they just think it’s crazy?

Astrid: My non-running friends think I’m crazy. They humor me talking so frequently about the race. My running friends get it. My husband is running the full 100 miler. He gets it. My folks were kick-ass marathoners. They DEFINITELY get it.

Jon: Both!!!

Jon Hoyt

Jon Hoyt at the 2014 Pineland Farms Trail Running Festival.

Who will be there to support you at the race?

Astrid: I have my friend Julie meeting me at Seven Seas for a little moral support and maybe a change of shoes and some ice. We’re friends with the new medical director, Dr. Rick, I’ll be excited to see him and his family at Ten Bear. Other than that, it seemed excessive to have a crew. I wish I could invite all my friends to spectate. Maybe next year . . .

Jon: My crew will be small. I have one handler. His name is Tony, aka Fish Stick. I also have a pacer.

Will you have a pacer? Who? Why did you choose him/her?

Astrid: This is so great. My friend Paul is pacing me from Ten Bear. We met volunteering at the 100 last year. We kind of sucked at the volunteering part, but got to be friends. He’s on a similar path as me when it comes to this ultra thing. He got the pacing job cause he promised to sing Journey songs when I’m hating life. I’ll probably run faster to get away from him.

Jon: Yes, I have the best pacer there is! Jeremy Shaefer. He just ran across the country so pacing me should be a walk in the park for him.

What aspect of the race are you most excited about?

Astrid: Truly, I can’t wait for the prerace festivities. I get to hang out with a bunch of other folks who like to run, too. I’ll be in my element. I’m generally quiet around new people, but put me around runners, and everyone’s a new friend. Oh, and running with the horses.

Jon: All of it.

What are you most nervous about?

Astrid: Everything! Seriously, since the VT50, I’ve had problems with my psoas. Sometimes it bothers me, sometimes not. When it does, I can barely run. Chiropractic work has helped tremendously. I’m praying that the 100 is a pain free day. I’d really truly like to finish, whatever that looks like. I’m nervous that I won’t get to follow my hubby’s progress. I hope to find somebody to update me in all the craziness of the day.

Jon: All of it.

Astrid Hoyt will be running the 100k and wearing bib number 443. Jon Hoyt will be running the 100-mile race and wearing bib 140. Make sure to cheer them as you see them on the course, and also follow Astrid’s adventures in trail running at her blog.