13. LAURA FARRELL: 100 Miles For Vermont Adaptive
“My first running race ever was a 100-miler and I had to work pretty hard to persuade the race organizers to let me in,” Laura Farrell told Vermont Sports in a 2018 interview. If that doesn’t give you a clue as to her determination, nothing will. Farrell, an accomplished equestrian, had competed in the Old Dominion 100-mile endurance ride on her mule Tulip in 1980 in West Virginia. She decided to return two years later and enter the race as a runner. She not only won the race but became the first woman to have done the event as both an equestrian and a runner.
That race gave her the idea to start a similar event in 1989. That event has become the Vermont 100, a 100-mile trail race (one of five comprising the Grand Slam of Ultra Running) with divisions for runners and equestrians and a separate Vermont 50, a 50-mile trail race for runners or mountain bikers. But, as Farrell tells it, the real impetus for the race was to start a fundraiser for her fledgling organization, Vermont Adaptive. She had been teaching skiing at Mt. Ascutney to a family who had a daughter with Down Syndrome. She started Vermont Adaptive Ski & Sport as an organization to reduce some of the barriers to entry to sports and enable people of all abilities to participate
Since then, Vermont Adaptive has grown to include more than 400 volunteers, with adaptive facilities at Pico and on the Burlington waterfront and a new permanent home at Sugarbush. Farrell is no longer directly involved with Vermont Adaptive. But she’s still active. In 2017, at age 65 she was back riding the Vermont 100, and enjoying the trails near her home in Windsor.