Earlier this week, due to record-setting rainfall and disastrous flooding, the 2023 Vermont 100 Mile, scheduled to begin on July 15, was canceled. This was particularly difficult as the race was also canceled in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In her email to the entrants, race director Amy Rusiecki had this to say:
“It breaks my heart to write this, but due to the devastating flooding that hit the race course yesterday and the lasting damage due to this weather event, the race committee has reached the unfortunate decision that this year’s event must be canceled. The second worst thing a race committee wants to do is cancel an incredible event. However, the worst thing a race committee wants to do is to conduct an unsafe race for the runners, volunteers, and communities. Our highest priority is the safety of every runner, volunteer, trail, and road that this event impacts.”
Sadly, over the past several years we have seen an increasing number of race cancellations due to dangerous conditions. Severe weather, wildfires, and now flooding have all impacted trail running events around the world. While it has always been something that we runners know could happen, it seems to me that the increasing frequency of these types of cancellations is a growing concern.
In the case of the Vermont 100 Mile, one of the historic North American 100 milers and a true gem of the east coast running scene, Amy and her team really had no choice but to cancel. With roads washed out, water levels dangerously high, and a state of emergency declared across the entire state, it was clear that an event of the size and scope of the Vermont 100 Mile could not take place. They considered alternate dates, potential different venues, and even making it a virtual event — but in the end decided the prudent thing to do was to cancel.
Remarkably, and befitting the generous nature of the ultrarunning community, within 24 hours of the cancellation announcement three events — the Burning River 100 Mile, the three-day Ragged Stage Race, and the Redpoint 50 Mile — all offered Vermont 100 Mile runners free or discounted entries into their races.
Finally, this cancellation hits me personally. As a five-time finisher of the Vermont 100 Mile, and someone born and raised in New England, my heart hurts for Amy and her team. Knowing how difficult it is to keep volunteers motivated, work with local agencies and landowners, and conduct an event like the Vermont 100 Mile each and every year, three cancellations over a four-year period is a hard pill to swallow. Just last month at the Western States 100, where Amy was out crewing and pacing a friend, I had the opportunity to chat with her extensively and I could hear the enthusiasm in her voice and see the glint in her eye as she looked forward to her event this year. And now, that’s all been washed away.
I am confident that Amy and her team will return stronger in 2024. I am confident that the Yankee hardiness that is so much a part of the Green Mountain State will help folks rebuild from these destructive floods and allow the race, and the entire region, to once again shine in that special way that only those rugged, rolling hills and deep hollows can.
AJW’s Beer of the Week
This week’s Beer of the Week comes from Otter Creek Brewing Company in Killington, Vermont. One of the more established craft breweries in a state packed with them, Otter Creek has been making unique brews since the mid-1990s. Recently, I had a chance to taste their Daily Dose IPA, one they bill as sessionable, and I was impressed. Balanced, West Coast-ish, and bursting with flavor, Daily Dose really lives up to its name.
Call for Comments
- Have you run the Vermont 100 Mile?
- Have any other races that you love suffered weather-related cancellations?