Monday, May 10, 2010

McNaughton Ultra Vermont

In order to participate in the Western States 100, one of the requirements is to volunteer a minimum of eight hours at another Ultramarathon. Volunteers are the life blood of all Ultra's and make them possible. I decided that I would volunteer at the McNaughton Ultra in Pittsfield Vt without knowing what I would be getting myself into. I am fortunate and grateful that I somehow got caught up in the madness that is the McNaughton.

I contacted race director(super cool dude) Andy Weinberg and offered my services. Andy invited me up and let me know that the race consisted of 200 miles, 150 miles, 100 miles, and a thirty mile "fun run". Because the Western is coming up in less than two months, I wanted to do the "fun run" as a training run. I don't know if fun is the appropriate word.

On the drive up with my girlfriend Magda(her first Ultra), torrential rain started as soon as we got in Vermont. The race had actually started on Thursday for the 200 and 150 milers but the 100 and 30 would start on Saturday morning. Forecast for the day was cold, rainy, windy, with possible snow showers at night. For once the forecasters were correct. Absolute nastiness. All we needed were locusts and the apocalypse would have been upon us. After a brief pre-race meeting, the horn sounded and we were off. It then started to rain for what it seemed the rest of the day. As Andy beautifully described the course, it was "a real ass-kicker." Straight up a mountain for approx. 5.5 miles followed by 4.5 miles down, making a ten mile loop.

After about an hour of running, the course was a total quagmire. I think I still have Vermont mud in my toes! It was ridiculous but just the ass kicking I needed. I learned alot about mental toughness in this race. Myself and Magda finished our three loops in a little over 7 hours and had a great time doing so. I also found out that you could actually "ski" on mud. Magda ran an incredibly tough course for her first Ultra, an amazing accomplishment. After we had finished our race, the real fun was about to begin.

We returned to the race after showering up at the hotel and started helping out with the other Ultra runners who were still out there in this mess. That is when I discovered what its like to be a true ultra runner. Mental toughness was on full display. Words cannot describe how miserable it was out in the elements. Runners would come in from a loop and would look like death warmed over. Shivering, teeth chattering, but for the most part in good spirits. What struck me was how the men and women runners would try as best they could to warm up/dry off and then after a quick break, venture back onto the course. Mind you these were runners who had already been out in the elements for about two days. I was totally amazed and in awe. I hope to find that place within myself someday. When I left, a runner(Ryan Dexter) had completed 180 miles and was going back into the breach at 10:00pm.

It was a pleasure meeting Andy and all the other people affiliated with the McNaughton Ultra. Check out there website, If your up a for a sick adventure and your willing to challenge yourself, look no further.


  1. Wow! What an amazing experience! You guys are so inspiring!

  2. I'm still laughing at the idea of 30 miles being referred to as the 'fun' run!!

  3. wait a second!!!! are you from New Bedford, MA???? Ryan and I are in the Greater New Bedford Track Club and this past weekend one of our friends was talking about you...we've been followers of your blog for maybe 2 weeks now but had no idea we are neighbors!!!
    ur blog is

  4. Stephen - Anything is possible. All the Best at Western! - Ryan Dexter