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: Fred Ross III
Occupation: Retired
Location: Vernon, VT
Hometown/Birthplace: Stratton Mtn, MA
Facebook: Fred Ross


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 started running in high school cross country & indoor track which I didn’t do well in as I didn’t like training. Living on the course, started “playing” with the Boston Marathon, as not many were doing it. At 16 in ’63 I finished unofficially in 4:55 in 178th place and my Mother drove along the course following me…imagine that! Boston ’65 I was 18 and entered officially but only did a total of 20 miles of training and finished in 6 hours and was interesting to see the results as I continued along the course! Running is the only thing I’ve pretty much been able to stick with, off and on, since then.

Fred finishing the Pikes Peak Marathon in August 2016 in 7:04 to win his age group

Racing… Did you start racing right from the beginning? What has been your favorite or best racing experience… Your worst… Why? Do you have a favorite distance…Why?

I would enter races from time to time but without much training. Guess I kinda got back into it in the winter of ’75/’76 after hiking all the 4,000’ers in NH in ’75. In May of ’76 I ran in the Champlain Valley YMCA Marathon in 3:07:32. In June I ran my 1st Mount Washington Road Race in 1:33:30 and have run it every year since but did drop out at 1/2 way in ’77. October of ’76 I ran in the Skylon International Marathon. Had to run sub 3 to qualify for Boston and finished in 2:59:56! Boston turned out to be hot, as it often is ran 3:30. August ’78 did my 1st Pikes Peak Marathon in 6:11. Ran the Ridgefield (CT) Marathon in 2:59:11 which qualified me for ’79 Boston and decided to train more. Feb ’79 ran 10K PR in Lynn, MA in 37:31. Having run Mt Washington since ’76, I created and directed the Equinox Mountain Road Race in May ’79 as a good tune up race for Mt Washington which would be 4 weeks later. For the 2 months before Boston I ran 75 to 80 miles/week, way more than ever before and it went really well. I easily ran 2:52:37 gun time. Then in August I ran to 19th place in the Pikes Peak Marathon in 4:32:22, these were my 2 best races. Also ran my Mt Washington PR of 1:23:10 in ’79. Then ran a 50-mile PR at Lake Waramaug in May ’82 in 7:35:40. My worst race would be ’82 Pikes Peak Marathon in which I got sick and threw up a few times and finished in 7:12:15. 

Any pre-race rituals or superstitions?

Not really, pretty relax’d.

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 enjoy being able to run/hike in the mountains and on the trails, and don’t care much for road running… Especially not on pavement. For the past many winters I haven’t run much but have enjoyed winter peak bagging. In that regard I completed summiting New Englands 100 highest peaks in a calendar winter on Baxter Peak in March 2012, then the Trailwright’s winter peaks on Southwest Twin Feb 6, 2016 and was the 6th finisher of that list after completing 72 hours of trailwork – one of the requirements. I did them all solo! There’s nothing better than to be above treeline on a bluebird day with unlimited views!

I can’t think of my worst experience. I have been really lucky! I have enjoy’d creating/directing races. The 1st was Equinox, then the Pisgah Mountain Trail Races in Chesterfield NH (which are still being held!), Marlboro Trail Races, and several others with most recent being the Green River Marathon. I was able to get certified myself and Donna used it to qualify for 2018 Boston! Very cool!!!

Fred finishing the 1984 Equinox Mountain Road Race, the last race he directed

Running In Vermont… What do you love about it? What do you wish was different?

Guess I love that we have so many scenic dirt roads and many nice trails to run/hike on. Wish more folks that participate in events would volunteer to help out!

Do you have a favorite route/trail here in Vermont?

There’s a route Donna & I know as the Kandahar Run. I like south to north & Donna north to south. Going north starting at Stratton Mtn Base Lodge and going to the fire tower on Stratton’s true summit then following the LT/AT north to Rte 30, about 16 miles I believe.

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?

In the “old days” I’d run more in winter than summer! More recently I run some, snowshoe some and take a day off a week. I enjoy taking a more relax’d approach these days. I miss “chasing” winter summits but don’t miss all the driving involved!

Can you provide some advice for running during the cooler months then into, and through, winter?

Just find something you enjoy and go with it. Try to stay as active as you can without it being a real “chore”, unless that’s what drives you…to each their own.

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?

It’s incredibly hard, most days, for me to get out the door! But I know if I want to improve, I have to train! If I could race w/o training, do well and be healthy, I’d be a happy camper 🙂

Fred with his sons Chris and Fred before the start of 1993 Mt Washington race where Chris would set a single age 9 record that still stands

Favorite/best piece of running gear you own or wished you owned?

Just a good pair of shoes, or two 🙂

Favorite thing to eat during a long run/race?

Usually I just carry a bottle of Gatorade and Gu or Hammer Gel to have w/water at aide stations.

Favorite aid station food?

Peanut butter & jelly sandwich pieces.

Favorite reward (do you do anything to treat yourself… food or other) after a long training cycle/race?

Sometimes stop to have a blueberry muffin n coffee on the way home, never acquired a taste for Beer…weird Huh 🙂

Next season what event or events are you are most looking forward to… Why?

Mount Washington is my favorite! Likewise similar mountain runs and trail races. I started an Uphill Mountain Series a few years ago for others that like running uphill on roads. It consists of the Race to the Top of Vermont in Stowe, VT… the Mt Greylock Road Race in North Adams, MA… the Prospect Mtn Road Race in Lake George, Ascutney Mtn Run in Windsor, VT and concluding with the Mount Washington Road Race…Grand Daddy of em all!!!

Fred about to finish the 1979 Pikes Peak Marathon to place 19th in 4:32:22

What are 2-3 Vermont running events/races that people should check out?

For sure the Race to the Top of Vermont and Ascutney Mountain Run!

What’s the best piece of running or training advice you’ve ever received?

Concentrate on what you can do, not what you can’t.

Do you have any running/training tips or tricks you’d like to share?

Anytime something doesn’t feel quite right, take care of it right away so it doesn’t become a problem. Especially important as the years go by!

Who is a Vermont runners that inspire you… Why?

John Dimick and Keith Woodward are 2 that come right to mind. Incredibly dedicated and successful runners and great folks!

Anyone out there you want to give a shout out to? Sponsors/Friends/Partners/Coaches/Etc… Why are they important to you?

My amazing wife Donna Smyth for her love, support and keeping me going 🙂

Anything else?

It would be awesome if people that happen to enjoy running, or whatever, to at least once a year volunteer to help at an event you enjoy! It can be more rewarding than racing! T

hank you in advance!!!


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 interviews regularly until we’ve profiled everyone that lives and runs in Vermont!

Train Smart. Run Well. Do Good.