BibRave Race Review: Vermont City Marathon

Disclaimer: I received a free entry to Vermont City Marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to find and write race reviews!

The 2017 Vermont city Marathon was held on May 28, 2017. The weather on race day was temperatures in the upper 50s and climbing into the 70s by the time the race ended, and sunny skies. The race consists of a marathon, two person really, or a five person relay team. The event is held every year, the day before Memorial Day. 

I will start off with my overall thoughts on the race itself. If you would like to know who my race won’t continue reading to the second half of this blog entry.

Registration and everything else leading up to race weekend.

Registration opens on October 10, 2016 at $99. Prices would rise to $110 and $135 leading up to the race. If you waited to register on race day it would’ve cost you $135. 

Leading up to the race, the promotion team use social media in a way that I have never seen Avery still before. Every Thursday afternoon they would do Facebook live on different areas of the race from nutrition to what to expect on race day. These were great source of information to get you ready for your 26.2 mile run.  Along with that, email reminders were sent out frequently as well. 

Expo

The expo is held at the Sheraton Hotel. Expo hours were from 1 PM to 8 PM on Friday and 9 AM to 7 PM on Saturday. The hotel was real easy to find as it was right off the highway when driving into Burlington. I arrived at the expo on Saturday at around 10 AM. As you can imagine most of the vendors were local from local businesses to local races. I did also stop by the official race merchandise table as well. They had some nice looking shirts there but I was disappointed that they were all cotton. I would have liked to see more of a selection with some shirts and sweatshirts being polyester. 

The Race

I am not sure I can say enough about this race.  Everything was great from start to finishline.  First off, I found that getting into the prefered corral was easy.  There were also volunteers making sure you belonged In the preffered corral. This was easy to tell by your bib number.  

Next, the crowd support.  For a smaller city marathon, the support was second to none. Fans were out with signs and cowbells at key locations on the course, especially the large hill. In the neighborhoods, there were families out on their lawns, garage bands playing, and some with sprinklers. The finish line was the best.  So many people lined up, ringing their bells.  I loved it so much that I had to join in after i finished. ​​  

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The Course was great as well.  Some complain about the Beltline from miles 4-8 because it is boring but I think every course  has that one boring stretch.  At least at Vermont City Marathon, its early in the race when you are in more of a pack and not hurting.  My favorite parts of the course was Church Street, the last 4 mile stretch on the bike path, and the hill by Battery Park.  Yes, the guy who hates hills includes it as part of his favorites.  Probably only because I ran it perfectly.  This was also a great spectator course.  You could stay in one place and see your favorite runner go by 4 times without moving. 

The aid stations were great, filled with awesome volunteers.  Aid stations were operated as a Gatoraid sandwhich, water, then Gatoraid, then water again. So easy and the same at every station.  There were also aid stations with gels, fruit, and candy. An unofficial aid station at mile 18 had Maple Syrup shots. 

Swag

The shirt was a nice short sleeve maroon colored shirt.  The finishers medal was nice as well with the race logo on the front, showing the runners running down Church Street. Also, free race photos!

Post race

After crossing the finishline, you are given your medal, a bottle of water, a reusable grocery bag for post race food.  The food was fruit, granola bars, yogurt, chips, and pizza.  Oh yes, of course chocolate milk. 

There was also a results tentwhere you could go and print off your results. Also you could type your number in on a key pad and your name and finishing time would be displayed on a sign. 


My Race
For those of you who know me or have been following along to my blog I typically do races in the Midwest. So what would bring me to go out to Vermont to run a marathon? When the opportunity to answer the Vermont city Marathon came up, there were a couple factors that played into my decision. 1, it’s a race I’ve never run before and I’ve heard really good things about it. 2, my wife’s brother lives in Vermont and it would be a great opportunity for our family to go visit his family.

Travel

My kids last day of school was on Wednesday but Tina school did not get out until Friday. This man we were unable to leave for Vermont until Friday afternoon at 3 o’clock. To make things more interesting we had decided to drive. It would’ve cost us at least $2000 to fly the whole family out to Vermont. It would end up taking us a little over 15 hours to drive to my brother-in-law’s house. During the drive I drove most of the way except for possibly 3 to 4 hours and watch Tina drove and I got a little sleep. We arrived at my brother-in-law’s house at approximately 6 o’clock in the morning. After we arrive I took a one hour nap and then drove an hour and a half to Burlington. 

Obviously this would not have been my first option for traveling to the race, however it was the cheapest. My main concern now was the lack of sleep that I had. Unfortunately on Friday before leaving I was unable to take a nap, and so I was really struggling with getting enough sleep.

Expo

The expo is held at the Sheraton Hotel. Expo hours were from 1 PM to 8 PM on Friday and 9 AM to 7 PM on Saturday. The hotel was real easy to find as it was right off the highway when driving into Burlington. I arrived at the expo on Saturday at around 10 AM. I had texted fellow Bilbray pros Mel and Brenda that I had arrived. Mel Mel was already at the expo and Brenda was running late and I would meet her later.

After picking up my shirt and bib number I’ve visited some of the vendors at the expo.  I did however find a nice hat to purchase. I did pick up about 15 trial packs of KT from Kinney Drugs. No, I did not just grab a handful, it’s what they gave me. So if anyone needs KT tape, let me know. 

After exploring the expo, I remembered that I was sent an email that I was supposed to visit the information table to pick up something there. The Vermont city Marathon folks had given the big brave pros each a drawstring bag with the race logo on it, filled with other race merchandise and products from sponsors.

After walking around the expo, I decided while I wait for Brenda to arrive, I would drive down and check out the starting line. No real reason to do so, other than just to kill some time and get familiar with the area. I am always more comfortable on race day if I know the area well. The starting line for the Vermont city Marathon is on Battery Street right beside Battery Park.  The view from the starting line on Battery Street. The view from Battery Park.  The view from Battery Park overlooking Lake Champlain

After finishing up at the starting line, I still have a few minutes to kill before Brenda arrived so I drove down to Church Street. Church Street is one of the more iconic areas of the course, in fact the design of the finishers mobile is based off of pictures of marathon runners running down the street. If you are ever in Burlington Vermont you need to come down to church street. The street itself is close off the two cars and bikes. Only foot traffic is allowed. On race day people will be sitting in front of restaurants are there tables cheering on the runners as they’re eating their breakfast. The marathon course runs down Church Street twice, the first time runners go north on church street 2nd time they go south. View of church street looking to the south.view of church street looking to the north.

I eventually went back to the expo to meet up with Brenda who had just arrived. Brenda and I would be staying at the same place, however she needed to go to a local store to pick up a pair of shoes that she had one from the race about a month ago. So I decided to go to our host home to catch a nap.

Host Home.

The Vermont city Marathon treated us very brave pros really well while we were there. We were given the option of staying with a host home if we would rather instead of staying at a hotel. We got to stay with Mike and Beth at their home which was only about 15 minutes away from the race location. Mike and Beth’s hospitality was awesome. I was really grateful for them allowing me to stay in their home. Mike was actually running in the two person relay. Mike been a part of the winning relating several times, and fact he and his partner won their division of the relay this year. I really did not want to be rude, but Mike and Beth were understanding that I need to get some sleep, and so I got about a two hour nap in. 

Pasta Dinner

Brenda and I were also invited to come to the pasta dinner held at the hotel. Proceeds from the pasta dinner went to the local Ronald McDonald House. There were two speakers at the pasta dinner, first was one of the race committee members who gave a history of the race and some general information for the next day. The next speaker was the head of the Vermont Girls on the Run chapter. Her story was inspirational and that she witnessed the Boston Marathon Bombing in 2013, wanted to run Boston again 2014 in memory of those lost on that day or were injured, but she did not qualify. And then finding out she had a brain tumor. All of us as well says pushes her to do her best today. 

The food at the pasta dinner was fantastic however they could not compare to the message that we heard during the dinner. While at dinner we also got to meet Jess, who runs PR for the race. More on Jess later, but the work she does for the race was awesome.

After dinner we decide to head down to waterfront Park to check out the finish line area. Once again nothing I have to do before race but it’s nice to know for logistics sake where things are at. The finish line awaits.

Following that we went back to the house home. As soon as we got back I went up to my room and made sure I had all my things around for the next days race.


It was finally time for bed.  I put on McFarland USA on my ipad and probably fell asleep with 10 minutes. 

Race Morning.

I had set my alarm for 5 AM, however as usual, I woke up at around 4:30. Not really a big problem, as I did get plenty of sleep. Mike had agreed to ride with me down to the starting line to find the best place to park. It was nice to have someone along that knew the area well.

We arrived at the start area that around 6 AM. I was like well as he went to go look for his teammate and running club members, and I went to go find Mel and Brenda for a pre race BibRave Pro pic. 

Following wishing each other good luck on that one, we all split off to find her standing positions. I had to first drop my gear off at gear check and then made my way to the starting line. When you registered for the race, you could request a preferred starting position. Yes meant that you were able to line up at the front of the race.

The race started promptly at 7 o’clock following the national anthem. While it was a sunny day temperatures are still in the 50s.  My goal for the race was to keep a 7:14 pace until after the hill by Battery Park at mile 15. After that I would start picking up the pace gradually until the finish. 

Right after the start of the race, you go about a block or two down the road and make an immediate left hand turn down Pearl Street. At this point in the race both sides of the streets are lined with fans cheering in ringing cowbells. You don’t even realize it at this time but you are gradually running uphill. After about 3/4 of a mile, you make a right hand turn down Willard Street. This then start a gradual downhill.

The first 2 miles were a little bit ahead of Mikel pace but I was starting to ease into what felt comfortable. The miles were run in 7:07 and 7:00. The 2nd mile was still a gradual downhill. The first small uphill came at about mile three as we were running north on church street. It was not a tough uphill climb at all. However it didn’t force me to slow down a little and help me get into a good pace. Third mile in 7:17. The crowd from church street until we got on to the Burlington beltline was awesome.

Shortly after mile three runners are taking on to the Burlington beltline. This is the part of the course that most writers complain about because there are no fans are on the course and there is no shade. Most runners consider this part boring. I didn’t mind it too much. While it was not the most entertaining part of the course, it was nice that it was barely enough in the race that you were running with other still. The beltline section is an out and back route that goes until about mile nine. After you complete the 8th mile you come to your first real hill of the race. Nothing too bad but nice to know it was coming.  Mile splits 4-9 were 7:01,7:26, 7:11, 7:05, 7:18, and 7:27. 

Right after you got off the beltline, you came across this thing fans that you saw at the start area. You also go back down Church Street again but this time you run downhill. After church street we started on another week of the course. The course is made up of four loops that kind of form a clover shape. This was actually the 3rd loop. At mile 10 I started running with a guy from New York. We started sharing what our goals of the race were.  His goal was a 3:15, but we ran a little bit together until the half way point when I think he dropped a gel or his water bottle.  When he went to pick it up, he never caught back up. This was the last time I actually ran with somebody. Mile 10-13 were run in 6:58 (oops, part of that I blame on the crowds on church street), 7:18, 7:04, and 7:10.  I crossed the half way point in 1:34:31.  Right where I wanted to be. 

Mile 14 started a slight downhill section that continued on through mile 15. I did pick up the pace on mile 14 all good but then backed it off or mail 15 because I knew that the big hill was coming. Mile 14 was in 6:59 and 15 was in7:14. After mile 15 you make a right hand turn onto Battery Street. I heard some people called the hill on Battery Street heartbreak Hill, but this is nothing like the one in Boston, no where near as hard. With that being said it was somewhat of a stupid oh and I made sure to take it easy going. At one point I was running slower than an eight minute pace. The crowds along the hill were awesome once again as we were approaching the area of the starting line. There were also Taiko drummers at the base of the hill to give you a little bit more motivation. After you complete that he’ll be run through Battery Park where the aid stations have candy for you if you need it. I told myself before the race if I was not doing well I would have some but things are going well at this point so I passed.  Mile 16 was run in 7:24.

After the hill the fourth and final loop began, which was the longest loop. The crowds were no longer as large as what they wore it one time but running through some of the neighborhoods was entertaining as well. Also from this point on the course was a gradual downhill and elevation loss of 100 feet to the finish line. Miles 17-22  more manly run in residential neighborhoods. The last 4 miles from miles 22 to the finish line we’re all on bike trails. This section might have been my favorite because you were running along Lake Champlain to the finish line. They were also trees along the section which ofered shade. Mile 17-26 splits were: 7:01,6:48, 7:01, 6:57, 7:05, 6:58, 7:14, 6:53, 6:59, 6:42. Saved my fastest mile for the end. 

The finish line was at Waterfront Park. The path to the finish line was lined with fans screaming and running cowbells. Besides Boston, this might be the loudest Finishline I have experienced. The last 100 feet or so of the course is on the grass in the park. I cross the finish line in 3:07:02. I ran a negative split of 2:31. Rarely do I run a negative split, but this is probably the largest negative split I have ever ran. After the hill, my legs just felt great and strong to the finish.   Also, looking back at the sports from the official results, I was not passed by a single marathon runner after mile 10. I do not believe I was even passed by a relay runner from mile 10 until about mile 24. It looks like I passed somewhere around 70 marathon runners in the second half of the race. I ended up finishing 110th overall, the 100th male to finish, and 25th in my division. 
If you are looking for a destination race, this one is for you.  Also a great race for those looking to run a marathon in all 50 states. 

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