Set in the relaxing village of Middlebury, Vermont, this half marathon and two-person relay takes runners past covered bridges, over rolling country roads and through the lively campus of Middlebury College.
It's been a long winter. Admit it ? You're ready to put away those running tights, headlamps and reflective gear. You've put in your time running through the cold, through the darkness and maybe even through the crowds on the treadmill at the gym. It's time to break out the warmer weather gear and officially celebrate spring with a long run. The 4th annual Middlebury Maple Run half marathon and two-person relay on May 6th is an excellent way to get away from the hustle and bustle while welcoming the budding spring season in the Green Mountains.
Nestled in the heart of the Champlain Valley, Middlebury is a runner's paradise. And the Maple Run packs much of the area's scenery into just 13.1 miles. The course not only takes you through the historic town of Middlebury, with its share of historic landmarks, but also out into the nearly traffic-free, peaceful Vermont countryside. "For me, [the course] is just perfect," said Gale Parmalee, a Middlebury resident who ran the Maple Run as his first half. "It is a combination of flat terrain, some hills—I personally like some hills—pavement and dirt road. You get a little bit of everything, so it does not get boring for one minute."
The starting gun goes off at 9 a.m. in front of Porter Medical Center, giving runners a straight, fast start down South Street. Right from the start, you're surrounded by the unbelievable New England scenery this race has become known for as you pass the historic Pulp Mill covered bridge in the first two miles.
The first half of the race takes racers on a loop past UVM's Morgan Horse Farm and back to downtown Middlebury. Midway through the course, runners pass through the exciting Middlebury College campus, which is also the relay exchange point, and pass the starting line around mile 8. The final five miles cover an out-and-back on a hard-packed dirt road. There are five aid stations on the course, stocked with water, Gatorade, band aids and Vaseline.
"There aren't many races [with] a covered bridge in the second mile," said Kevin Yetman, a member of Merrimack Valley Striders who travels from Wilmington, Massachusetts, to the Middlebury Maple Run each year. "Near mile five, you have a beautiful view of the Green Mountains on one side and the Adirondacks on the other side. The first time I ran through the campus of Middlebury College, I said to my friend 'What a gorgeous campus!'"
And Yetman isn't the only runner who makes a trek to Middlebury each year for this race. Nearly 40% of registered runners come from other states, said race director Sue Hoxie. It's a great event to turn into a weekend getaway. Race headquarters and packet pickup will be at the Middlebury Inn, an historic full-service hotel that has been in operation for more than 180 years. Middlebury Inn also offers special rates for runners staying for race weekend, and the Inn will host the pre-race reception on May 5th from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., with hors d'oeuvres and a cash bar.
Get In While the Getting Is Good
The buzz about this race is certainly building. Race organizers wanted to start small to be sure they got it right. The inaugural Middlebury Maple Run welcomed about 250 runners; that number doubled for the second annual race. Organizers anticipate 1,000 registered runners for the 2012 half marathon and relay. And with each year, Hoxie makes sure they're giving runners what they want.
"The race organizers always do this race right," said Yetman. "In the first year, they only had the half marathon. I think that was a good thing because they could work out any kinks. Then they did something few race directors do: they asked the runners what went right and what needed work." The result? You guessed it ? an even-more-successful, even-more-popular half marathon the following year.