2nd Annual Green Mountain Relay - Jeffersonville to Bennington, Vermont
First weekend in June - the full moon will lighten our way!
Posted Saturday, 5 May, 2007
Scheduled in June around the full moon, the 2nd annual Green Mountain Relay will take place on Saturday and Sunday, June 2-3, 2007. The GMR starts in the small town of Jeffersonville - about a 50-minute drive from Burlington – and finishes in the beautiful community of Bennington, which is nestled between the Taconic and Green Mountains in the southwestern corner of Vermont. The majority of the GMR route traverses the central Vermont Route 100 corridor, taking secondary country roads, some trails, and portions of historic Route 100. Once south of Londonderry, the route utilizes sections of US 30 and RT 7A and paralleling side roads. Runners will cross seven of Vermont’s historic covered bridges and will sample many of Vermont’s natural wonders: rivers, brooks, farmlands, maple forests, the Green Mountains, Stowe Hollow, Granville Gulch, Killington, Okemo, Mount Bromley, and many other classic Vermont postcard scenes.
The 200-mile Green Mountain Relay is modeled after other long distance relays. The course is divided into 36 legs with designated runner exchange zones at the end of each leg. There are three main categories for teams to choose from: 12-person teams, Ultra teams consisting of 6-runners who can run either a 6x1 or 6x6 configuration, or a Super-Ultra category for 1 to 3-person teams. High School teams are also encouraged to participate. The course is well marked and monitored with plenty of access to aid.
The Need for Speed Against Domestic Violence National Relay Series
The Green Mountain Relay will partner with the Avon Foundation and the Need for Speed Against Domestic Violence Relay Series, with sponsorship and support for this vitally important program. the Green Mountian Relay is one of 11 chosen from across the country to run in support of this program, which began with the original Relay in Westchester County, New York. Funds raised with this series of event partnerships will be part of the program aimed at providing help for families--and especially children--affected by domestic violence. The Green Mountain Relay is proud to be named as one of the event partners in this tremendously importaqnt cause. For more on the program and the series go to www.needforspeedrelay.org or www.avonfoundation.org.
Race Director Paul Vanderheiden, owner of Timberline Events LLC, also organizes the Wild West Relay in Colorado and is a relay runner himself. Paul’s vision for his relays is to find very scenic, rural routes so both local and out-of-state teams experience the essence of the area. He gathers support from the local communities and gives back to them through his Volunteers With A Purpose program, a unique program providing local non-profit organizations with a fund-raising opportunity.
One difference between the GMR and other eastern relays is the very rural nature of the relay route. It is necessary for teams to help with the recruiting of volunteers to staff the exchanges. Teams have two options – the team can either recruit friends or family to be volunteers, or they can make a donation to Volunteers With A Purpose. The funds raised by VWAP are then directly passed on to local non-profit organizations that participate in the GMR as a fund-raising opportunity. The 2006 GMR distributed $4,200 to organizations that provided volunteers, such as Habitat For Humanity, Women Helping Battered Women, the Manchester Lions Club, and the Ottaquechee Community Partnership.
Mother Nature owes us - the Sun will shine on this year’s GMR!
Last year’s event was plagued by cold rain and winds. Even so, twenty-one smiling and laughing teams participated in the soggy inaugural event, 19 of which finished. It was truly a "shake out" for this year’s event and the many years to follow. What already was a well-organized relay will only get better. The weather owes us some cooperation - the 2007 date is one week earlier which should help as June rains typically wait until mid month to start drenching us in Vermont.
Join the camaraderie - long distance relays are fun!
With a congenial relay team, you will have the time of your life for 200 continuous miles. Last year, my team - a masters women’s ultra team of six named the "Vermont Hot Shoes" - and our wonderful driver Vic, giggled and laughed between solid runs by each member. We maximized the circumstances - small van, six cramped and wet women, and one man. It was hilarious fun and we ran well, winning our division as the "only old ladies team" but also placing strongly overall. We did have our secrets - plenty of dry clothing, good food, and a driver who could handle anything with a bright smile.
The GMR is a two-day event. Teams are given staggered starts based upon the average of team members’ 10k times. This formula spreads teams out while attempting to get all the teams to the finish in time for the prize drawing and awards ceremony afterwards.
The course is phenomenal - like Vermont Life!
The challenging course has all the rugged features of Vermont softened by the constant beauty of the surroundings. The hills come often and are challenging. The dirt roads have little traffic and lots of barnyard and backyard views. The locals come out and offer cheers and support. In between the exchanges, there are many of the country stores Vermont is famous for. They not only love your business but also are thoroughly intrigued by the scope of the event. Part of my team camped at the back of one store in an open area with the proprietor’s blessing, using the bathroom and their space for stretching and keeping warm, while buying coffee and local-made cider donuts to munch on. Later in the run we camped out in a diner and enjoyed mouth-watering hot homemade soup to take the chill off. The locals treated us well; at least while they were awake. There was a period during the night where we hit "quiet zones" and were warned to keep down the noise lest we lose our permission to run through the area.
Runners experience the route far differently than from a car or on a bike. For instance, Granville Gulch and its fast running brook and powerful waterfalls, the very distant horizon and views coming into Bennington, the relentless hills in areas such as Stowe Hollow and Terrible Mountain south of Killington Peak. Vermont is anything but flat and you’ll know it after this run. This feature not only makes for the challenge but also defines the beauty of the course and your surroundings.
The night is dark but exciting!
Last year’s full moon was not visible because of the bad weather. Still, with headlamps and flashlights, passing through the countryside and community hollows of Vermont during the night hours was spiritual and very special. Between rains you could hear the night critters contrasted with the pregnant silence of rural Vermont, where all is a still life when the farm families turn out their lights and hit the sack.
The competition can be fierce or fun – whatever you want to make it!
Much like other long distance relay events, teams set goals - some based on time, others to win their age group, to beat their hometown friends, or another running club team. The 2006 overall winners were the “12-WATTS,” a team from Colorado, which consisted of 10 high school students, and two adult coaches, who organized fund-raising events to be able to travel to Vermont to participate. Their time of 24:12 was a 7:20 pace for the 200 miles. Although the categories are separated for 12-person versus ultra teams, the ultra teams sure enjoy a boost upon beating a 12-person team to the finish, particularly since the ultra team members are each generally covering twice the distance and running twice as many segments.
It’s all about team spirit!
Personally I prefer an ultra team. I get to do more running and spend more time with my team members. The larger teams require two vans and the team is separated. Ultra teams stay together. Our runs were not far enough apart to take time for more than a catnap. We enjoyed more time together. We decorated our van, wore matching team jackets and held team get-togethers before and after the event. Best of all, we made local prime time news and ran for the camera! We plan to return in 2007 to defend our titles of first women’s team, first ultra women’s team, first senior women’s team, first senior ultra women’s team, and women’s team course record holders. We call on the women of the running universe to pull together teams to challenge us!
If you don’t run the GMR to compete, run it as an athletic challenge and as a great way to see and experience Vermont. Run it as a social event. You will find yourself leapfrogging with the same teams at the exchanges and making new friends. The runners will intrigue you - where they come from, why they are here, and the relationships amongst them. In the middle of the night, tired and sore, you will have made new friends simply by sharing this ultra experience and you will have deepened the ties with your teammates. Best of all, you will have lots of stories to share and tell, and memories that will last a lifetime.
If you run in the Green Mountain Relay, you will run in the heart of Vermont. The smells, the tastes, the sights will all be at your footsteps and intimately tied to your senses. The GMR takes you beyond a short day’s race, into a zone of sore muscles and tired bodies that forces you to be at one with your surroundings. It forces you to set a tempo, one foot at a time moving forward, and to ignore your exhaustion for the ultimate finish line and the satisfaction of getting there as part of a close knit team. At the same time you get in a valuable workout, which will set you up for a successful summer and fall of running.
Registration for the Green Mountain Relay is now open and is limited to the first 125 teams. Go to www.GreenMountainRelay.com for information.
About the Author:Dot Helling has completed over a hundred marathons and many ultra races, and also competes in triathlons and adventure races. When not running she is skiing or biking, and her athletic resume is very impressive.
She set an age group record (50-55) at the Mount Washington Road Race, which she runs annually. She won the Vermont 100 in 1997. She has finished the Ironman Triathlon, and recently completed the Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica. She is also a mountain climber, summiting Mt. Kilimanjaro and others. Last month she ran in Patagonia with Andes Adventures. “What an amazing place and experience!!!!!!”, she declares. She has run on several competitive relay teams.
Dot is a member of the Green Mountain Athletic Assoc (GMAA), as well as the Central Vermont Runners and the Stowe Bike Club. She is a lawyer in Montpelier, Vermont.