Runners Of Vermont is an ongoing series here at the VTRunCo where we get to meet and start to get to know some of the amazing people that call Vermont home and share our affinity for running. So, sit back and enjoy. The people profiled here are the main reason Vermont is such a great place to live and run. Also, if you know someone that lives and runs in Vermont who you think should be profiled here… Let us know. We’d love to be introduced and give them the opportunity to share their perspective on Vermont’s running scene.
Name: Darrell Lasell
Current Location: Williamstown, VT
How did you first get involved in running and what was it that kept you coming back? Did you develop your habit easily, or was it something you had to work at?
I ran on the Cross-Country team in Williamstown HS my Senior year (1975), but no running otherwise. I have done a lot of hiking since. But in 2014 I weighed 260lbs and couldn’t keep up with my friends while venturing up mountains. My blood pressure was really high, and my doctor told me to loose some weight. So I started running. At first only a quarter mile a day, but then we got a dog (Chloie a Siberian Husky) and I started taking her for runs. Soon I as able to run 5k, and then I decided to try Race To The Top Of VT in Stowe, VT – It was then that I realized that I enjoyed the feeling of accomplishment, from being able to run the whole race up to the top of Mt Mansfield. As I have run many races since, I found that the more weight I lost, the easier the runs became.
Racing… Did you start racing right from the beginning? What has been your favorite or best racing experience… Your worst… Why?
The first year I only did a couple races – But RTTTOVT was the first mountain race, and the one race I don’t want to miss each year. I then joined the Northeast UpHill Mountain Series, which required me to run 5 Uphill Mt races (Mansfield VT, Greylock MA, Prospect NY, Ascutney VT, and Washington NH (or get denied via the lottery). My prize for completing this series is a nice Mt Goat certificate, and a lottery bypass to race at Mt Washington.
As for my worst race experience….. I don’t really have any. The first year I ran the Circumburke (27 mile mtn/trail) at Burke Mt – it was wet and very slippery/muddy. I thought I was gonna DNF, but stumbled to the finish nearly last. It took me 7hr 20 mins. But I came back the next year (much better conditions) and did it in 6 hrs 44 mins.
This last June I ran “Race to the top of Bradford” and was feeling pretty good, and doing pretty well – I finished 10th overall. But then I did something foolish. At the finish line there is a rock where the kids run and jump off the rock for the photographers to take an “Air” shot. I forgot that this sort of stunt is OK for kids, but not for this heavy 60 yr old. When I landed, I sprained my ankle, and I was too embarrassed to tell anyone. The worst part… The photographer didn’t take an “Air” shot of my jump, because he didn’t think the old guy was silly enough to do that stunt.
Do you have a favorite distance…Why?
I find that I really struggle with distances over 10 miles – but feel good about finishing a 13 mile trail run.
Any pre-race rituals or superstitions?
I eat a big bowl of oatmeal (with apple, raisins, and Maple syrup) a couple hours before the race.
Non-racing experiences… Besides racing and training, what are some other ways you enjoy running, or running has improved your life? Your favorite non-racing experience… Your worst?
I do a lot of Geocaching – (a high-tech treasure hunt using GPS) It gets me out exploring the countryside, seeing unique places I wouldn’t have known about otherwise. These adventures are really fun with fellow Geocachers, and the challenge to find it first is often a bit competitive.
Running In Vermont… What do you love about it? What do you wish was different?
VT is a beautiful place with lots to see. There is a Facebook group (VT251: The Race Less Traveled) that helps you keeps track of how many of VTs’ 251 towns you have raced in. I have raced in more that 43 VT towns. Sadly about half of VTs 251 towns don’t have recurring races.
Do you have a favorite route/trail here in Vermont?
I love the Long Trail, especially areas like Mt Abraham, Camels Hump and Mt Mansfield with great views.
During a typical New England winter what do you do to stay in shape, keep motivated, and have fun? Do you continue to run? Do you engage in any other activities?
My huskies (I have 3 now) need their exercise. I take them for a walk or jog almost every morning. I have also hitched them up to a dog sled. They can pull me for miles on the flat, but I have to get off and push when the trail goes uphill. However, last winter I discovered the Winter Wild series of races hosted by Team Amp. It is a series of 10 mountain races at ski areas in VT, NH and MA. The race is usually a challenging race to the top of the ski area and then back to the ski lodge. The race director makes the event really fun, with great prizes and the fellow runners are some of the nicest people.
Can you provide some advice for running during the cooler months then into and through winter?
Get some traction, like micro spikes or studded shoes. Wear gators to keep the snow out of your shoes, and wear layers that can be opened or removed as you heat up and start sweating. A face mask or buff can help against frost bite. Last year I challenged myself to run at least 5k a day for the month of Jan. I did it, but it was hard to stay warm.
Do you have a mantra or strategy to get you out the door when you don’t feel like running, through those tough moments in training, or during a long event?
Since I started running in 2014, I have lost about 75 lbs – When I take more than a couple days off from running – the weight comes back on….
Favorite/best piece of running gear you own or wished you owned?
I like my Icebug studded shoes, and my Garmin watch.
Favorite thing to eat during a long run/race?
I like the Maple Untapped all natural athletic fuel – It is pure Maple syrup – What’s not to like about that?
Favorite aid station food?
Fruit, like watermelon chunks or orange slices. (M&Ms or cookies are good too)
Favorite reward (do you do anything to treat yourself… food or other) after a long training cycle/race?
I often treat myself to a dark stout or porter beer – after Wed night group run with the Runderachievers at Good Measure Brewing. But after a race I look for a Maple creemee or better yet, a slice of Maple Cream Pie from P&H Truck Stop (perhaps the reason I need to keep running)
Next season what event or events are you are most looking forward to… Why?
Definitely the Winter Wild series, followed by the Northeast uphill Mt Series, both are challenging, yet doable.
What are 2-3 Vermont running events/races that people should check out?
What’s the best piece of running or training advice you’ve ever received?
Don’t get hung up on where you place, Go out and have some fun – Why bother running if you can’t have some fun?
Do you have any running/training tips or tricks you’d like to share?
Get some long runs in and practice those hill repeats… the more you do – the easier it will get.
Who is a Vermont runners that inspire you… Why?
Fred Ross (70+ yrs old) always in good spirits and out runs me most of the time.
Cris Cote always looking for a challenging race.
Anyone out there you want to give a shout out to? Sponsors/Friends/Partners/Coac hes/Etc… Why are they important to you?
My lovely wife Cheryl, who supports me in my ongoing pursuits (she has started running too). Trail runner Susannah Colby-Gravel who pushes me to run a little more. Both the Central VT Runners and the UVRC for offering training help and tips. My employer AADCO Medical for helping financially with donations to charity races.
A 12 minute mile is the same distance as a 6 minute mile.
Thank you for taking the time to read this far. Stay tuned for our next installment of Runners Of Vermont. Our goal is to post a new interview every week until we’ve profiled everyone that lives and runs in Vermont! If you know someone that runs and they live in Vermont… Please connect them with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Train Smart. Run Well. Do Good.