The 22nd KeyBank Vermont City Marathon—One Trip Worth Taking
Many runners travel to marathons for vacation, a variety of destination adventures. Burlington, Vermont and the KeyBank Vermont City Marathon and Marathon Relay on Lake Champlain offer an intriguing get-away adventure for individuals, couples, and families.
Posted Sunday, 28 February, 2010
If you’re looking for a destination marathon that won’t break the bank but still offers a wealth of culture, scenery, history and outdoor fun—look no further than Burlington, Vermont. Kick off your spring distance racing adventure and your vacation at Burlington’s 22nd Annual KeyBank Vermont City Marathon (KBVCM), on Sunday, May 30, 2010. A few days of relaxation (and a little nervous energy) before the big day and then a few more days to recover and take in the culture and sights of this fascinating area can make for the perfect getaway. This is an adventure you won’t want to miss—before during, and after your race.
Marathons are growing in popularity, and the number of marathon finishers continues to rise each year. Approximately 650,000 runners finished a 26.2-mile race in 2009, a significant increase over previous years. Evidence of this can be seen in the faster-than-usual closeout of Boston Marathon registration, which filled up in 157 days early this year, and many others as well—spring and fall. Keybank Vermont City offers a terrific alternative to Boston for New Englanders and for those around the country looking for the New England Marathon Experience.
Choosing which marathon you want to tackle—and the region you want to visit--can be almost as exciting as those early training runs in preparation for the big race. People sometimes look for a marathon that meets a laundry list of criteria—location, date, medal design, course, expo, etc. The KeyBank Vermont City Marathon is sure to meet many of your requirements for a destination race, a wonderful mini vacation in a beautiful college town and a gem of a New England city.
It’s a well-organized race that’s fully stocked with water stops, volunteers and cheering crowds. And as a vacation spot, it’s easy to get to by car or air travel from northeastern USA cities and Canadian cities as well with the Burlington airport just minutes away, and Interstate 89 running north-south on the outskirts. Burlington offers loads of non-running activities for the entire crew. Their manageable field size, competitive pool of runners, fast course and nearly perfect late-May weather will also help to keep you on track to meet (or beat) your goal time.
Burlington’s Beauty Includes the Marathon Course and Beyond
If you want to run a marathon that involves much more than just 26.2 miles and a medal—this is your race. Burlington, the Green Mountain state’s largest city, features a bustling waterfront and downtown region as well as scenic and laid-back New England neighborhoods. Some of Burlington’s energy comes from the colleges that call the area home, including the University of Vermont (UVM), Burlington College, and Champlain College. Visitors of any age can find activities in Burlington or its neighboring towns, such as the famous Shelburne Museum just to the south.
Located on the shores of Lake Champlain, the country’s sixth largest freshwater lake, Burlington welcomes visitors and provides the opportunity to learn about the harbor, the lake, and its species of fish, amphibians and reptiles at the ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center. The pedestrian and bicycle-friendly city and waterfront also boasts miles of paths to take in the views of the lake or New York’s Adirondack Mountains towering in the distance. Just up the street from the harbor in downtown is the pedestrian-only Church Street Marketplace, which is packed with restaurants, bars and shops (the marathon runs through the Marketplace twice).
Burlington can also claim a few local celebrities that got their start in the Green Mountain state. The jam band Phish formed at UVM and performed at Burlington’s Main Street bar, Nectar’s in the early 1980s before becoming a national act.
Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream also started scooping in a “dilapidated gas station” in Burlington in 1978. Since then the company has grown in size and its offerings of mouth-watering flavors. The Ben & Jerry’s headquarters in nearby Waterbury offers daily, affordable (just $2!) plant tours and tastings, as well as sales of all their famous flavors. And Ben & Jerry’s brings their flavors to both the EXPO and the post-race party in Waterfront Park. Sounds like a perfect post-marathon treat the whole family will enjoy!
Visitors can also take a ferry across Lake Champlain to New York. The 500- passenger Spirit of Ethan Allen III offers several meal cruises as well as narrated Lake Champlain tours.
Success Starts With a Strong Foundation
Long-standing and successful marathons don’t just develop overnight. They take years of planning and perfecting, and planned, measured growth. Much of the success of the KeyBank Vermont City Marathon can be attributed to its organizers, Run Vermont, and their extraordinary attention to detail and to the needs of their guests, the participants.
RunVermont is a not-for-profit organization “committed to the promotion of running as a life-long activity through complementary programs that celebrate the athletic spirit, are recognized nationally and embraced by the VT community.” Within that organization is Vermont City Marathon, which was established in 1989 and includes several other events and programs for adults and youth, in addition to the marathon.
On Saturday, May 29th, RunVermont will host the 9th annual kids’ running festival. The MVP Healthcare Y.A.M. Scram, as it’s been called, gives kids aged 4-14 an opportunity to run either a ½-mile, 1-mile or 2-mile race in Burlington’s Waterfront Park. The first 600 registrants receive a T-shirt; and all finishers receive a commemorative medal. To register for the Y.A.M. Scram, visit http://www.runvermont.org/youth/yamgeneral.html.
The tweens and teens can get involved in the KBVCM relay on Sunday, May 30th through RunVermont’s Junior Youth Relay program. This 10-week training program works with kids ages 11-16 from local youth centers to get them ready to run on a marathon relay team. This is a wonderful development program.
Junior Relay runners-in-training work on everything they need to cover the distance come race day, including proper nutrition, how to dress for the weather, fulfilling commitments, teamwork, setting goals and enjoying the entire experience so they continue with a healthy, active lifestyle. The training schedule starts mid-March, 2010. For more information on how to get involved with the Junior Youth Relay program, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ladies, are you looking to train for the next KBVCM or another race? You might want to check out the Lake Champlain Women’s Running Camp. This year’s camp, which will be held June 13-19 at the Basin Harbor Club in Vergennes, Vermont, gives runners of all levels guidance, support and running training on backcountry roads and soft trails within the beautiful 700-acre Basin Harbor. The Women’s Running Camp is planned and executed by Andrea Sisino, the driving force behind RunVermont and the KBVCM for 17 years.
Daily workshops aim to improve running performance through drills, stretching, core strengthening, water-running, track workouts, nutrition information, injury prevention and more. But it’s not all work and no play! Attendees can also take some time to enjoy yoga, kayaking, swimming, hiking or just kicking back and re-energizing with old and new friends.
RunVermont also hosts the Fourth Annual Half – Unplugged Marathon on Saturday, April 10th, which will fit perfectly into your full marathon training schedule. With a limit of 500 runners, this low-key race keeps the volume turned down, and is much smaller than KBVCM. But the flat, scenic course will keep you energized, and the experience will be delightful. Registration for the Half - Unplugged Marathon is now open at http://www.runvermont.org/events/halfmarathon.html.
One for the Record Books
KBVCM is a great race for runners of all paces—from mid-packers to back-of-the-packers to elite athletes. Fast finish times are anticipated every year and winners are generously rewarded for outstanding performances.
First place Open male/female finishers garner cash prizes of $2500; second place winners will pocket $1300 and 3rd place finishers get $500. Cash prizes go to the top six open finishers and the top three females and males in the masters division. The top Vermont residents also win $500. And new to this year’s prize offerings is a $750 bonus for any runner eligible to enter the US Olympic Trials who delivers a Trials qualifying time.
Over the years, the KeyBank Vermont City Marathon has seen its share of terrific champions. One woman in particular has left her mark on the race as the person to beat. Heidi Westerling of Walpole, New Hampshire is a three-time winner of this race and set the course record in 2009 with a time of 2:35:02. Her lightning-fast pace crushed the venerable women’s record of 2:38:32 which had stood since1995.
John Crews of North Carolina nabbed first place for the men in 2009 with a blazing time of 2:19:31—the fifth fastest time for this race—beating second place finisher Michael Wardian, a five time KBVCM runner-up, of Arlington, VA.
Now Is the Time to Plan; Experience Burlington and Vermont
Start planning your May travel to Burlington now. Registration for the 22nd annual KeyBank Vermont City Marathon is open and Burlington has a spot for you now, but not for long as it always sells out. The location, the scenery, the welcoming region, the race’s organization and community support all give Vermont City its “destination race” status. It is one beautiful place—a place to run into your memory books if not your personal record books. Register as soon as possible because it’s going to fill up fast! Destination Burlington, Run Vermont!