Rob Colenso

Tom Green: ‘Slammer Tough’

Given his quiet, unassuming demeanor, it’s entirely possible that someone might forget a true legend of ultrarunning who we count among our VHTRC ranks: Tom Green.

One look at the Grand Slammers list on makes clear his claim to fame. He was the first to complete the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning nearly 30 years ago – at that time the Old Dominion 100, Western States 100, Leadville Trail 100 and Wasatch Front 100. He did so in a combined time of 96:26:28, starting a small and unique fraternity of ultrarunners that counted only 302 runners among its ranks as of 2014.

But Tom doesn’t brag about that. Or the 300 ultras he’s completed over his storied running career.

So indeed, it’s conceivable that we might not remember.

But the VHTRC doesn’t forget. And what’s more, we take care of our own.

By now, you’ve hopefully heard that Tom was seriously injured April 20 while he and a friend were cutting down a large tree branch in his back yard. Despite their thoughtful safety precautions, the branch took a bad bounce when it hit the ground. It popped back up and hit Tom in the head. The situation was serious enough to require that he be airlifted to the Shock Trauma center in Baltimore, Md.

His injuries are significant. Broken bones in the inner ear. Multiple skull fractures. Bruising of the carotid artery. Blood clots that caused several small strokes. Cerebral fluid leakage.

When we learned of his injuries, Happy Trails club members – and indeed, the ultrarunning community at large – rallied to support him and Kay. In numerous ways, large and small. But all meaningful.


In just two days, 363 people contributed a combined $28,650 to a GoFundMe campaign meant to help offset Tom’s medical expenses given the likelihood that he’ll end up paying 30 percent of the bill (the life flight alone costs about $15,000). That’s an average donation of nearly $79 per contributor.

And if you’ll be out at our Massanutten Mountain Trails 100 this May — and surely at other VHTRC events going forward — you’ll see among the items for sale a green wristband bearing the words “Band Together for Tom.” They’ll be available to those who wish to make a donation to benefit Tom’s recovery effort.

The money is meaningful. But perhaps even more powerful is the outpouring of love and support that we’ve seen from the Happy Trails family in the days since Tom’s injury.

Courtesy of photographer extraordinaire Geoffrey Baker, you’ll find on YouTube a tribute video to Tom that was shot at the Promise Land 50K++ this month. Many of those in the video are wearing green ribbons distributed by our own Gary Knipling to honor and support Tom at the race.

When you hear the comments our fellow runners offered in that video, whether from someone in his closest circle who knows his love and kindness or a longtime fan inspired by his history of running exploits, you’ll understand two things:

  • Tom Green is indeed “Slammer Tough.”
  • And both our little Happy Trails tribe and the ultrarunning community at large are full of some of the kindest and most generous people you could ever hope to call family.

You’re in our thoughts, Tom. We know that you’ll once again demonstrate that quiet strength that helped you persevere through countless ultras and look forward to sharing the trails with you again very soon.