The Vermont 4000ers includes summiting the peaks of the five 4,000’ Mountains in Vermont and connecting them by biking on the scenic Route 100.
The stats come out to running 22 miles with 11,000’ of elevation gain and biking 100 miles with 7,000’ of elevation gain.
The peaks include Mt Mansfield, Camels Hump, Mt Ellen, Mt Abraham, and Killington. The previous Fastest Known Time (FKT) was held by Peter Howe, who is a phenomenal mountain runner. It was unclear how stout the FKT was as Peter was the first to complete this adventure. Ryan and Aaron learned fast it was going to take a solid effort to match Peters time of 15hours 56minutes. More so that they chose to make an attempt during record high spring temperatures for Vermont.
Why they chose to take it on?
Ryan and Aaron both compete professionally in the sport of Obstacle Course Racing (OCR) in which many may be familiar with Spartan Race. With the horizon absent of racing they both were itching to stir up the competitive juices and find a way to stretch their boundaries of fitness. The VT 4000ers is an super aesthetic challenge that embodies the essence of Vermont.
FKT’s carry certain standards based on the variation of the attempt. The Vermont 4000ers was done as a “Self Supported” which is defined as “you may have as much support as you can manage or find along the way, but not from any pre-arranged people helping you. This can range from caching supplies in advance, purchasing supplies along the way, to finding or begging for food or water.”
For Aaron and Ryan this allowed them to cache a few bags/coolers of food, water and supplies at the transitions between biking and running. Even with the caches the boys had a bit of weight to carry for each of the 2-3.5hour bikes an
d runs that included all the water, fuel, our shoes and spare clothes (didn’t need much on th
Outside of the caches, Aaron and Ryan drank LOTS of stream water and chomped on the last bits of snow on the mountains.
How it went down.
It was hotter than hot (93deg highs to be exact) which took its toll on the boys. There were many highs and lows, dips into the mountain stre
ams, joking, silence, eating treats, but most importantly having fun and helping lift each other's spirits. Sure the boys were going after a record but when it's a 14+ hour adventure the most important factor is creating an epically fun memory with a friend.
The boys cruised along from their 6:43am start at Mansfield and continued to reach each checkpoint right around the pace to beat the record time. Their low point came while going up the 2300’ climb “Organ Grinder” that b-lines straight to the top of Sugarbush where they would then traverse the ridgeline a total of 7 miles to summit Mt Ellen + Mt Abraham. They were 8 hours in, the sun was pounding down on them and they both were flirting the line of heat stroke. They said the remaining snow piles saved the day as they stuffed the snow in their shorts, under their hat, and in their armpits to do everything they could to keep their body temperature down. They fell behind the record pace by the time they completed the trek back to the base. At that point they had a 50 mile bike and the last trek up to the peak of Killington remaining for their adventure. They agreed on setting a pace that w
ould get them to killington in 2 1/2 hours. Up to that point, besides flirting with heat stroke, it was mostly fund and games. The boys competitive nature came to life and they got to work fast. Getting to Killington in 2 ¼ hours and in the dark summiting the peak to finish the day at the time mark of 14 hours 48 minutes. 68 minutes faster than the previous record.
What was most challenging?
Ryan and Aaron said at no point did they hit a point where the running or climbing was too beyond what their muscles could handle. The hardest part was just having the sun pound on them all day and zap their energy non stop.
They were both stoked on how much fun the day was and hope some others take on the challenge and give them reason to come back and have another day of fun!