The Vermont 50 is an iconic race in Vermont, known for its beautiful yet grueling course. Founded 26 years ago, the race servers as a major fundraiser for Vermont Adaptive. Based in Brownsville VT and starting at the Mt Ascutney Outdoors building, the race encompasses 50 miles of beautiful Vermont terrain in the last week of September. The race starts at 5:50 to 6:30 am, depending on on your class and if you are Mountain Biking or Ultra Running. Yep, that’s right, the race is both for mountain bikers and runners. There is also a shorter, 50K running race as well. Starting a half hour before sunrise wasn’t my favorite part of the race, but we sure were rewarded with an amazing sunrise.
There is no lack of great scenery to be had here. Many of the gravel roads took us along beautiful farms and through scenic maple forest. The race is not entirely “mountain biking” in the sense of it being all single track. The route is made up of gravel road, fire road, mowed paths through field, pure singletrack, and a very small amount of asphalt. All told, there is about 8,000 feet of vertical ascent in the race. If you’re curious about the exact makeup of the trail, look here. A lot of the trail is on private property!
The aid stations were one of our favorite parts of the race. Not only does it make it easy to set time goals, but it also breaks up the race for those who are not competitively racing. Each station is staffed by a plethora of volunteers and unique in it’s own way. Every station has a variety of standard drinks and race food, but also each had its own special foods. Pure maple syrup shots, grilled cheese, and hamburgers, just to name a few. This year UnTapped was one of the sponsors, and many stations were stocked with Mapleaid and Maple Waffles.
Some of the climbs are fairly brutal and grinding. The one up to the Garvin Hill aid station comes to mind, but there are many others. No part of this race is flat. Just look at the elevation profile on the site above!
I think my group’s favorite aid station was the Margaritaville station at mile 26.5. I’d like to hand it to them. Music was playing, the grill was going… and cheeseburgers! They had burgers cut into 1/4s with associated condiments. Maybe for those of you competitively racing it wouldn’t be the best race food, but my group loved it! Thanks guys!
The race conveniently starts and ends at the same spot, right at the base area of Mt Ascutney. It was nice to have quick access to the car for immediately before and after the race. There were plenty of port a pots, a smattering of vendors, and water at the base. Additionally, post race food was provided as part of the entry. The race was well executed, all the volunteers were amazingly friendly, and the race participants were (in general) also very friendly. All in all, the VT 50 is a great race experience, and I’d recommend it if you’re up for a 50 mile race.