As I mentioned, this past weekend I crewed at the Vermont Moonlight 100 for Hannah.
I’ll let her tell the whole story of the ride (so watch her space), but here are a few photos and thoughts from my POV as a crew member.
First, I am sad to report that Hannah did not let me put one single, solitary flake of glitter on Tucker all weekend. I offered repeatedly. I believe I offered just about as often as I offered food and water. Denied, every time. Siiiiiiiiigh.
Vermont Moonlight is a ride with a couple of neat features. First, it is meant as a ride that finishes in the dark, and riders (there’s a 100, 75, and 50 mile race; Hannah did the 50) depart so as to finish late in the night. I sat at the finish line for about 45 minutes from 11:15 pm – 12:00 am and people came in every 2-3 minutes. They light the trail with glowsticks, and for the final path, glowsticks in water jugs that create a sort of runway feel.
Second, it’s run alongside a 100 mile ultramarathon run. Yes. Endurance horses racing alongside people who are running 100 miles – and not just any old 100 miles. Twisting, hilly dirty roads up and down the southern Green Mountains. Many of the runners doing the 100 mile race also had pace runners, who would come in and do 25 or 30 miles with them. You know, for fun. Holy mackerel.
Ride camp, looking up toward the tents.
Milling around before the 50 mile start.
Some more hanging around before the 50 mile start.
50 mile start. ZOOM, off and down that long hill.
My nest for the day – not that I spent a ton of time in it. The back seat of my truck.
The first hold (or 4th hold for the 100 milers). Very crowded, very busy! The guy to the left and I made good friends over the course of the day – his riders were on a very similar pace to Hannah’s.
More of the first hold, basically my view across. Perspective is a bit forced here – it’s only barely 20′ across from me to the buckets.
My hold setup, looking at the timers. Horses went in and out there.
Unbelievably gorgeous farm for the first hold.
Heading out for the second hold. You can see my pass on the dashboard and Hannah’s number on the windshield. They were being VERY careful and strict about crew vehicles, in part because the holds were so small.
After this hold, everything started moving very quickly. I dashed down into Woodstock to get some dinner for myself and more water for both of us, then made it to the second hold in time to get everything set up just as it became dark. So, no more pictures after that.
I was very glad to be there to support Hannah and really did have fun meeting people. I did not expect to be quite so busy, though! On paper, it all made sense that I would have time to hang out and read at each hold but in practice that was soooooo not the case. I had the most break time before the first stop & go, which was in ride camp, but after that I was either cleaning up, driving, getting lost, driving incredibly slowly (5mph) around horses or runners, setting up, fetching water, helping other people at holds, or watching for and then helping Hannah and Tucker. All the holds were pack in, pack out, and I had to set up a ways away from the truck, so there was a lot of back and forth with many buckets.
I met some amazing people and horses, learned a TON, ate myself sick (I bought a truly appalling amount of food and seemed dedicated to eating 100+ calories for every mile Hannah rode, good grief), saw some gorgeous places, and I am in absolute awe of everyone who even started the race, on horseback or on foot.
The weekend was not without its complications and adrenaline rushes (see Hannah’s write-up for more) but I am glad I did it. I’d do it again in a heartbeat. If I had the right horse, I’d do the ride myself.