We asked them a few questions about themselves and why they chose to fund raise for Vermont Adaptive...
Meet Mike Rafferty
How long have you been running ultramarathons and how many have you done (attempted, completed – whatever you want to tell us!)? I’m a relative “newbie” to the world of ultrarunning. My first attempt at anything longer than a 5k or 10k was the LA Marathon in 2011. About one year after completing that, I entered my first 50k, which was the Leona Divide 50k in Lake Hughes, CA. The experience was great, and I knew that I wanted to keep pushing the distance to see how far I could go. This lead to me signing up and completing the North Face Endurance Challenge 50M in San Francisco, which took place in December of that year. Wanting to give the distance a second try, I signed up for TNF50 again the following year, which then gave me my qualifying race for what would be my first 100 mile attempt…The Angeles Crest 100. AC is one of the harder 100 miles, and it was certainly a worthy challenge for my first attempt. So, in August of 2014, I toed the line and set out to what would be one of the best experiences in my running career. 27:35 later, I crossed the finish line in Alta Dena and received my first buckle. I love the distance, challenge, and experience of the 100 mile race, and look forward to running again in Vermont.
Have you run the Vermont 100 before? If yes, when? This will be my first attempt at Vermont, and literally the first trail race I’ve ever done on the East Coast, even though I grew up and spent 21 years there.
Why did you make this year’s VT 100 your goal? I knew that I wanted to put a 100 mile race on the calendar each year, since running my first in ’14. Rather than attempt another run on the same terrain I train on year round, I thought that heading back East and running in NE would be a great change of scenery for me. Also, being one of the original 100 mile races adds a great element to the overall experience, and I hope to complete the “original” races over the years.
How is training going so far this year? Training this year is as good as it can be. My wife and I work full time and commute to work, and we also have two small children. This schedule doesn’t allow for the “full” training that I could entail, so most of my weekly efforts are done on the road/trail at 4:15-4:30am. I feel that the early hour running in the dark certainly helps when forced to run with a headlamp in longer distance races, and the sleep deprivation doesn’t hurt either. Each year, I set aside two or three weekends where I dedicate my time for the 20+ mile back to back runs. I feel this year, as opposed to last, the efforts were equally as good (although I wasn’t training at altitude and my vertical gain wasn’t as much) and my recovery was far better. My weekly mileage has been averaging around 55 miles, with my longest week at 78, which is only a few miles longer than my longest training run for AC. I’m a middle pack runner, and feel that moderate mileage works best for me, as I’m also 200lbs + and don’t feel the high mileage (90-100) is in my best interest. I have the usual aches and pains, but my taper has been good so far.
You’ve chosen to raise money for Vermont Adaptive as a charity runner. What drove you to make this commitment? I had my first experience with a charity at the Boston Marathon in ’14. Although I wasn’t part of the charity team, I saw the impact these people had and the fun they had going through the training/race. Running is a passion of mine, and one that I don’t take for granted. Seeing that Vermont had a charity option, I felt it was the perfect opportunity to raise money doing something that I love, and especially for a charity group such as the Vermont Adaptive. Traveling from out of state, I felt it was even more important to give back to the community that I would be making myself a part of the weekend of the race. It feels great to do a small part for such a great organization.
What is your fundraising goal? I only have about 3 weeks left, but ideally I would like to raise $2,000 plus. I’m motivated to make this happen.
What is your incentive for fundraising and what strategies have worked so far in raising money? The incentive for fundraising is being able to better someone else’s well being through exercise and activity. I know how much it means to me, and to allow that gift to someone else is all I can ask. My main method of fundraising has been through Facebook. Most of the donations have been made through the posts I’ve put up, with a small handful via word of mouth.
What are your favorite and least favorite aspects to a 100 miler? Having only completed one, I’m sure this will change but here are my initial thoughts. My favorite aspect is the feeling of accomplishment. Being able to do something that most people can do, yet don’t have the courage to try. It tests my mental strength, and leaves me with a feeling that anything is possible. Of course, the energy levels at the aid stations, as well as the volunteers that keep you energized are up there as well. My least favorite aspect is the “unknown” that you didn’t plan on. You can sort your hydration, nutrition, gear, etc, but you can never plan on the blister that you never had before, the “irritation” that never showed up on a long training run, etc. This distance pushes you further past the norm, and you have to expect the unexpected.
What is the one thing you are looking forward to at the aid stations? Is there a go-to fuel or drink you have? Is it the volunteers? Something else? As stated above, the volunteers are what really help bring this all together. I’ve never participated in a trail race that didn’t have the best people out there backing you up. It’s a community unlike none other. I’m an avid Tailwind user, and was more than happy to hear the news that this is the go to drink choice on the course. I can’t say enough about the product. I literally use only tailwind on most training and shorter races. In AC I finally started eating at mile 45, but was Tailwind up until that point. Huge partnership for the race.
What advice would you give to someone who is just getting started with ultra running? Take your time and be patient. Odd are, you are going to be out there for a long, long time. I found out the hard way that starting off fast in an ultra will have horrible effects later on. Take your time at aid stations, smile, and enjoy the surroundings…cause you’ll be there for awhile. Lastly, if you have a family, know that the amount of training you do will end up being as hard on you as it will be for them. They will make major sacrifices to ensure that you are able to accomplish your goals. Keep that in mind, as its only running, and they are the things that are most important in life. If you haven’t found that balance yet, figure it out sooner than later.
What is your favorite memory/experience from an ultramarathon? Seeing my family at mile 38 on the AC 100 course after a long, bonk filled climb up out of the canyon. Mentally I was down, and seeing my wife and two boys standing there immediately took me out of my funk and brought new energy to my race.
More info about our Top Fundraisers please visit: http://vermont100endurancerun.blogspot.com/p/top-fundraisers.html
Here is a little bit about Vermont Adaptive
Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sports is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing recreational and competitive sports opportunities to people with disabilities. We believe sports and recreation provide a physical, mental and social experience that is immeasurable in promoting self-confidence and independence in an individual.
With nearly 400 active volunteers instructing and helping, plus generous partners and sponsors, and an amazing base of clients and friends, Vermont Adaptive Ski & Sports has been at the forefront of sports and recreation for those with disabilities in New England for more than 20 years. Vermont Adaptive Ski & Sports is committed to empowering individuals with disabilities. We promote independence and further equality through access and instruction to sports and recreational activities.
The VT 100 is one of Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sports biggest fund raisers every year. Without our participants, volunteers and sponsors, Vermont Adaptive would not be able to provide access to: skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, sailing, canoeing, kayaking, hand cycling, tandem biking, horse back riding, rock climbing, hiking, camping and other adventure weekends to their participants!
For more information about Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sports: www.vermontadaptive.org.
Here are just a few ways Vermont Adaptive puts a donation to work
- $25 provides a 2 hour snowshoe or Nordic outing in the winter or a 2 hour canoe or kayak outing in the summer.
- $40 allows Vermont Adaptive to purchase a box of hand warmers for volunteer instructors and participants.
- $60 covers the cost of a ½ day of skiing or snowboarding including equipment.
- $100 covers a whole day of skiing or snowboarding in the winter or a therapeutic horse back lesson in the summer. (These allow us to provide scholarships to people who otherwise could not participate.)
- $500 allows Vermont Adaptive to purchase new helmets for one program location.
- $600 buys a new tandem bike.
- $600 buys a new kayak or canoe
- $1,000 outfits six Vermont Adaptive instructors with uniforms.
- $3,000 provides the resource to purchase a new or piece of sit down equipment such as a mono-ski or hand cycle.