For the past 29 years, the Vermont 100 Endurance Race has taken place in July over rugged, hilly, wooded trails and on country roads that run past century old farms and fields in beautiful Vermont.
The Vermont 100 is one of the four most prestigious 100 mile races in the United States, making up what is known as the Grand Slam in the ultra community. In addition to its Grand Slam honor, the Vermont 100 is also the only 100 mile ultra race in the United States where horses race alongside runners. It also stands out for its dedication to doing good: “Every penny raised by the Vermont 100 goes to the continuation and improvement of the programs offered by Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sports,” a non-profit that supports sports opportunities for people with disabilities.
A race of this magnitude requires a village of volunteers, a supportive community, and people who love and support ultrarunning, runners and riders, and appreciate the life-changing magic of endurance sports.
Dedicated ultrarunner, business owner, wife, and mother, Krista Alderdice, known throughout the blogosphere as VT Runner Mom, is one of these amazing, inspirational people with a passion for supporting endurance sports, the growth of trail running, and trail running with kids. Krista lives in beautiful Vermont with her husband, Guy, and their two boys.
Kids Trail Running had an opportunity to catch up with Krista to talk running, family, life, and to recap her experiences crewing the 2016 Vermont 100 with her kids.
1. How did you come to be an ultrarunner mom and endurance athlete?
I started running cross country in 7th grade and ran throughout high school. I loved it, but I had a conflicting love between running and riding horses. I still remember my high school running coach, Coach Burg, say something like, ‘horses, really?’
Beyond high school, horses eventually won and I enjoyed a long career of endurance racing (50 and 100 mile races on horses throughout the country, even getting to race in a ladies’ race in Dubai).
Running came back into my life in 2008 when my husband and I moved to our current home in VT and got hooked up with some great friends who loved to run. I trained with them all summer. One teased me to run the VT 50K with her…I hadn’t even run a marathon, but felt what the heck! I’ll try it!!
Endurance running and endurance riding have such similarities between them, that I soon loved challenging myself and I really got the feeling as to what my horse was physically going through.
I’ve done one 50 miler and I’m gearing up for the VT 50 this fall, in hopes to qualify for the VT100. I’m dreaming of running it on my own two feet next year, I’ve been lucky enough to finish it seven times on horseback.
2. How did you start running with your kids?
Running with my kiddos started in 2011. They just enjoyed the trails and experiencing nature around us. It was never the same, each trail brought new adventures and they ate it up.
We don’t run for time or heavy mileage, we just look at it as a day in the woods together.
I think sharing endurance with your kids, whatever format you do–running, biking, swimming, horses, etc.–brings you all together as a family.
3. What is your favorite race, event, or distance?
I haven’t done a ton of events outside our bubble. We are actively involved in the VT 100 (helping mark trails) and participating in the VT 50, two local races that are right in our backyard of Brownsville.
The VT 100 is a magical event for our family. We have been participating in this incredible race for 16 years, first with horses and the past 6 years crewing/pacing my husband Guy. It was a huge decision of why we moved to this beautiful part of VT. There is an abundant trail system and many outdoor enthusiasts just like us!! Each year driving up Silver Hill and seeing the huge white tent, it still gives me goosebumps!!!
Our favorite “family-friendly “race is Pinelands, in New Gloucester, Maine. It offers many distances for all ages and abilities. It is great flatter course and has loops, making it easier to crew and have multiple people in your group/family do different distances. The kids love the plethora of swag you get for completing!!
4. Why do you love trail running? How has it changed you?
I love trail running because of the pure joy it gives me. It challenges me and humbles me and gives me strength.
I don’t want to sound cliche, but trail running is really healing. I had a significant horse accident a year and a half ago, shattering my elbow joint into pieces from a kick. Running was and is still my true savior. I’m so thankful to be able to lace up my shoes everyday.
I also love the connections that we’ve made through running. We’ve met some amazing friends….makes me smile thinking of that.
5. You spent the entire VT 100 weekend with your children, family, and friends crewing for your ultrarunner husband. How did that go?
Crewing the VT 100 is simply a blast…especially with the kids! They are so into it. This year was great because they also had some buddies who were crewing for their Dad.
We’d get to each handler station and set up camp (sometimes I think we overdo supplies) and everyone was pitching in– carrying coolers, bags, chairs, food, etc. Everyone pulls their weight all day and Ice Cream is always involved after the Margaritaville (mile 59) handler station. I love watching the kids cheer on the runners and also love watching them play games along the way. This year was a big race off between slugs they found on a realtor sign, who knew slug racing was so fun!!!
5. What is one thing on your must-have list when you are crewing ultra races?
A must have is washcloths in Ziploc bags with ice and cold water. Your runner will love you for it on hot days….a must have at VT.
6. What do your children gain from crewing ultraruns or endurance events?
They learn to adapt. You may be hot, cold, hungry, tired, but you pull together to get your runner to the finish line (their Dad). They also see their Dad do something amazing. It inspires them and instills in them that they can do and be anything. The world is wide open for them.
7. Not all people, athletes, or race directors embrace the idea of having kids around or even participating in the race scene as young athletes. Do you think there is a place for kids as crew or runners in the trail running and ultra scene–such as at a race as significant event as the VT 100?
I do, because let’s face it, kids ARE the future of this sport. Of course, there will be people who are not always kid friendly, but I have to say, when our kids cheered the runners along the VT 100 course, you could see their eyes light up and smile at the kids. Many runners were asking for high fives. I think kids give you that boost of energy, you see that inner child that’s still in all of us!!!
I do believe kids should be allowed and encouraged to run, but not pushed. It’s a life long sport that teaches kids so much, it gives them confidence, motivation, and a love for nature. Get up and get up is what I say.
8. Do you think kids positively impact the race environment and experience?
I do! Just seeing the smiles on the runners’ faces says it all to me. Plus we get to snack on Doritos all day. Kids bring the best food!!
9. Where do you see trail running in your future and in your family’s life, say in 5 years?
I guess we truly never know what the future holds, but I hope running will be a big part of it. I hope I will someday conquer the beast of the VT 100, maybe someday we’ll be crewing/pacing our boys on one of these races. I do know that running does bring a family together!!
10. If you could give other people or parents advice for crewing a big race with kids, such as the Vermont 100, what would it be?
My advice would be…be flexible, and be able to adapt to changes. Your kids will be so excited to cheer on their family member. Make them feel included, maybe with the packing or preparing the food. Kids love to be involved and they love to feel needed…..let them help!!!!
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