Below is the conclusion of Fiona Murphy’s article Crewing the VT 100. Part 1 of this article debuted in the Sept/Oct 2015 issue of our magazine.
We are surprised as Maria comes up from behind us and looks very worn down. Lauren and I immediately get her in the chair we have set up and start assessing her needs. She is not herself and is complaining of pain from a long standing medical issue.
“Sit and let’s see if we can work you through this,” I tell her.
“No,” she says, “I dropped out at Brown School House (mile 64.6). The sag van brought me here.”
She burst into tears, and Lauren is closest to her, and gives her a long hug. Our hearts sink for her. All we can do at this point is hug her, give her a blanket, and listen to her. Nothing we say can make it better, and we are afraid to say the wrong thing that may upset her. She is devastated, as are we, since she was still on at 28 hour pace at this point in the race. The medical piece is out of her control and the physical pain is too much to bear. Fortunately, Carolyn, an accomplished ultra runner (and also the owner of a few ultra DNFs) steps in and comforts and understands Maria in that moment in a way that only someone that has been in her exact place could.
I headed to the car to let Sandy know what had happened. She was asleep but jumped into action knowing that comforting Maria was our only task right now.
We are back at the house. We sit in the dark car listening to Maria and comforting her the best we know how. We are all so proud of her and the 65 miles she conquered (39 miles farther than I have ever run!).
We see lightning and hear thunder, as a storm is getting closer. It begins to rain, and bright lightning crackles through the darkness. This was not in the forecast and we talk about how we would not have been prepared to deal with this if we were still out there… We talk until about 0200 then eventually drift off to sleep.
I wake up to the sound of pouring rain coming down so hard I can’t see out of the window. The thunder and lightning are intense and close. I am secretly glad we are in bed. The air has grown cold, and we would not have been dressed appropriately for the conditions. I think of all the runners and volunteers still out there fighting it out. I say a prayer for their safety and fall back to sleep.
We head to the meadow for the awards ceremony. Maria likes this piece of closure for the weekend, to see friends and congratulate them on their races. Some of the runners hobble like the walking dead, others get out of chairs and walk around better than I ever could after a mere 26.2 miles. It’s incredible to hear all the finishing times and stories from the runners. The last runner made it in just minutes before the 30 hour cutoff time.
We head to the Harpoon Brewery for a great lunch and try some fun drinks. The drinks always taste better this weekend for some reason…
Maria is amazing in her ability to find the good in every run, even with a DNF. She had run strong, she had accomplished her pacing goals, she had fueled well, her crew had helped her out of aid stations faster than ever before. It just wasn’t her day. And before Sunday was even halfway over, she asked us what we were all doing next July!
Resilience, perseverance, a dose of crazy and incredible friendships, and hell yeah, we are back here with you again next year, Maria! Even the legendary Ann Trason had DNFs, so you are in excellent company. You will conquer this beast that is VT100, and when you do, no one will be happier for you than your crew!
Fiona Murphy is a loyal crew member and member of the LVL Legion.
To read more from our Sept/Oct 2016 issue, click here.