BENNINGTON — Departing the starting line in the early, quiet morning, and not stopping until 30 hours later, Mount Anthony Union High School (MAUHS) science teacher Daniel Rosenthal will make strides through Vermont to raise money for a local organization on July 16.
The Vermont 100 is a 28-year-old endurance bicycle ride and ultramarathon that occurs every July at Silver Hill Meadow in West Windsor. It's one of the original 100 mile length races in the country that raises money Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sports, a nonprofit that works with individuals with disabilities. Rosenthal is fundraising for the Bennington County Coalition for the Homeless (BCCH) at the same time. Participants can pledge a flat fee or money per mile run.
"The race itself is a fundraiser for Vermont Adaptive Sports, so my registration fee goes towards that," Rosenthal said. "This might be the only time I'll run in a 100 mile race and I wanted to do something nice for the local community to make it more meaningful."
Rosenthal said he was born with a heart condition and, for about a year, had depression and anxiety. He said he coped by hiking some of the Long Trail — all of which he did when he was 13 — and getting back into physical activity. He built up stamina by running in 5K races, then 10K, and right into a marathon. It's difficult, as a father of two girls, to be a through hiker, so he decided to transition to shorter, more intense adventures, such as ultra runs, or long distance — anything beyond 26.2 miles.
The teacher started running early in life and spent summers in the Adirondack Mountains, which ignited his nature passion. The furthest he ran in 24 hours was 61 miles and two 50 mile races. Last month he took on the Allegheny 100 Hiking Challenge, but dropped out due to sleep deprivation and getting a concussion from falling, and recently he traveled from Albany, N.Y. to New York City on the Long Path trail.
To date, Rosenthal's YouCaring fundraising page has raised $173 out of $1,000. Members of his church have pledged money and other individuals have written checks to BCCH's executive director Chris Oldham directly. He's received an estimated $450.
"One of the greatest things that's happening with the community and coalition is that so many people are stepping up and supporting," Oldham said. "The community is coming out in droves to support the coalition and we can't be more appreciative. We're in the midst of an expansion project and in the process of purchasing a building. This is exactly what nonprofits in the area strive for."
The Southern Vermont Cooking Challenge at the end of June raised $600 for the coalition while a beer and music event at the Catamount Tap House earlier last month took in $500, Oldham said.
Rosenthal has been following a six month training plan that involves running 80 to 100 miles over the course of one week. Next weekend will be the first time he'll run that length in one session. The plan includes hill workouts as well. He said some of his most epic runs have occurred while training.
"It's kind of a combination of things," he said about how he feels about the race approaching. "I'm starting to feel excited and a little nervous and like 'what did I get myself into.' It should be fun."
Rosenthal's friend will join him as a pacer during the last 20 to 30 miles of the race, which is something he'll be looking forward to. He said that after the 50 mile mark, it's an entirely different feeling, but he plans to start with a slow 12 minute mile to conserve energy, walk up hills and jog down and on flats.
Vermont 100 was founded by the same woman who started Adaptive Sports and each year the event is put on by 200 volunteers. This year's race is shaped as a shamrock loop with 70 percent dirt roads and the remaining on woods trails with minimal pavement. To qualify, a runner must complete a 50 mile race in 12 hours or less, and must volunteer eight hours at an ultra race to enter. Only 300 compete, according to the organization's website.
To assist in Rosenthal's mission, visit YouCaring.com and search 'Funds for the Homeless in Bennington, VT,' or mail a check to BCCH's PO Box 4736, Bennington, VT 05201.
—Makayla-Courtney McGeeney can be reached at (802)-447-7567, ext. 118.