Located on the shores of Lake Champlain, the country's sixth largest freshwater lake, the 22nd annual KeyBank Vermont City Marathon is the perfect family destination for Memorial Day Weekend. Burlington, Vermont has been on many "Top Ten" lists for its beauty, pedestrian-friendly downtown, and wealth of family activities, to name just a few reasons. What better way to see this vibrant city than on foot? Race weekend offers an event for every member of the family, from the kids' Yam Scram race on Saturday, May 29th, to the marathon and marathon relay on Sunday, the 30th. Non-runners will also feel like part of the action with several prime viewing points from which to cheer the runners. Make it official—online registration is open now: www.runvermont.org.
Make Your Goal 26.2—This Time I mean It
For many runners, running a marathon is the ultimate goal—a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to prove themselves by going the distance. To others, running a marathon is a common occurrence—they constantly strive to improve their time, upping the ante of their personal best or aiming for a Boston Qualifier. Whether it's your first or your 100th, the KeyBank Vermont City Marathon—with its beautiful course, wonderful lake-side college town, dedicated volunteers and cheering crowds—gives every runner that once-in-a-lifetime feeling.
Most marathon training programs consist of about 18-20 weeks of consistent preparation before hitting the starting line. And guess what? If you hit January 1st with the resolution to run a marathon in 2010, you have just the right amount of time to train for and run the KeyBank Vermont City Marathon on May 30th. So what are you waiting for? Make it official and register today: www.runvermont.org .
Marathon runners and Leg 1 of the relay start at Battery Park, overlooking Lake Champlain, at precisely 8:03 a.m., and head through residential streets and through the city's Church Street Marketplace, a traffic-free, open-air mall that's filled with shops, restaurants and outdoor seating. Soak in the cheering crowds that line the streets, stash that long-sleeve shirt now that you've warmed up and settle into your pace as you head out of town.
Just after 3.5 miles, you start on a 4-mile out-and-back stretch down the Northern Connector, a divided highway that the city closes to traffic just for this race. It offers some open green space and views of the Green Mountains off in the distance. Even with the scenery try to keep your eyes on the runners on the 'back' portion of the Connector and you might just catch a glimpse of the winners speeding along this fast, flat stretch of open road.
Maybe you've settled in on these quiet roads and retreated back into yourself with thoughts of split times and pace. Well, the excitement at mile 8 will snap you out of that. A second loop through the Marketplace gives you a chance to check your watch, grab a drink and give all the spectators a proud smile. Then head to Burlington's South End toward Oakledge Park, a waterfront area with beach access, playgrounds, tennis and volleyball courts, softball fields and picnic areas.
The park also marks the halfway point of the course. Alive with activity, Oakledge Park is also the exchange point for the two-person relay teams. If you're looking for a little pick up here, you might want to look to a friendly relay runner. "If you use them the right way, those relay runners can really pull you through some of the tougher miles of the marathon," said Peter Delaney, race director and Executive Director of RunVermont.org.
After passing through Oakledge Park, you'll run the next two miles lakeside. Take this opportunity to distract yourself by gazing out into the vast waters of Lake Champlain, which separates Vermont and New York, arguably the most beautiful of the "Great Lakes". Maybe you'll be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of "Champ," the legendary lake monster thought by some to live in the dark depths of Lake Champlain. People have reported spotting this unusually large and unidentifiable "creature" in Lake Champlain since the 1600s, and sightings continue today. Likened to Scotland's Loch Ness Monster, Champ has become one of many tourist attractions in the Burlington area. There was a "sighting" last summer along the shore portion of the course just beyond half way, and the video was widely distributed on Youtube: Youtube.com/watch?v+YT49LQMxthg .