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home > races/results > usa: vermont > the green mountain relay -- adventure, challenge amidst lush natural beauty in scenic vermont

The Green Mountain Relay -- Adventure, Challenge Amidst Lush Natural Beauty in Scenic Vermont
The Green Mountain Relay in Vermont in June will bring out your passion for running and adventure. And what a setting—it runs 202 miles along and through the Green Mountains with some of the most beautiful scenery in the East.

The Green Mountain Relay -- Adventure, Challenge Amidst Lush Natural Beauty in Scenic Vermont

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By Skip Cleaver
Posted Friday, 2 June, 2006

The Green Mountain Relay will run over 200 miles through the spectacular scenery of Vermont. The June trek will pack an unforgettable experience-of-a-lifetime into two days (some teams will take 35 hours!), Saturday and Sunday, June 10th and 11th. The start is in the small town of Jeffersonville (population 473) in northern Vermont, 30 miles from Burlington and the Burlington International Airport, and 19 miles from the Canadian border. The finish destination is the historic city of Bennington in the southwest corner of the Green Mountain State. Bennington is four miles from the New York border, and 10 miles from Massachusetts. (Bennington is an hour from Albany which also has an airport).

This is a relay for runners of all abilities. Twelve-person teams and six-person ultra teams will run around the clock, completing 36 relay legs or stages, each with well-designed transfer points and rest areas. Runners love distance relays, and this event will be the ultimate in team building and camaraderie. With superior, noteworthy organization, it will be ideal for competitive running clubs, groups, schools, and for innovative companies. This event is exceptionally well organized; every detail is covered, offering a valuable and memorable experience for all participants.

This will be the ideal time to run a 24-hour relay. The dates of June 10 and 11 were chosen to coincide with the full moon (Strawberry Moon, June 11), allowing scenic village and mountain views even during night hours. Moonlight playing on trees, rivers, barns, and bridges will be an experience in itself. The date is only a few days from the summer solstice, the shortest night of the year, and the longest day. There will be only 8 hours and 37 minutes between dusk and sunrise, and a full moon! It doesn’t get any better than that for night running. The weather in Vermont will likely be ideal on those dates. The average high on June 10--11 is 77 degrees, with an average low of 50 degrees, and a mean temperature of 64.

Timberline Events LLC
The Green Mountain Relay is presented by Timberline Events LLC, the same company that stages the enormously successful Wild West Relay in Colorado every August. Timberline Events LLC is a road race management company, which was created--and is now managed--by Paul Vanderheiden. Paul, a marathoner and river rafting guide. Coloradoan Lisa Javernick and Vermont resident Sue McNamara serve as Assistant Race Directors.

What a Terrific Course
There is so much to see along this course we can’t possibly do it all justice in this space. But take it from me; it will be a very memorable trek. You will see historic homes and barns, verdant fields and gorgeous forests, hemlock groves and rocky ledges, covered bridges and rushing water, dams and mills, village greens, museums and art galleries, general stores, breweries, creameries, and maple sugar cabins, monuments and the ancient ridges of the Green Mountains, and more.

The Relay starts in Jeffersonville at the Cambridge Elementary School. Jeffersonville is a small village named in 1827 in honor of Thomas Jefferson. Soon after the start, runners will cross the Poland Covered Bridge. The route then heads east to Johnson, a small college town, where runners cross the second of seven covered bridges on the course—the Powerhouse Bridge. The relay then heads generally south-southwest on or parallel to the famously scenic Route 100.

On the fourth exchange, runners will enter Stowe, one of many ski resort towns along the course. Mount Mansfield, Vermont’s highest peak, will be visible a few miles to the west. South of Stowe runners will enjoy several back roads and bike paths, some dirt, and another covered bridge, the Gold Brook. Then it is on to Waterbury, the home of Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream. In Waterbury the first of five Van Exchange Points (every six legs) allows the first runners to rest as the second group takes over.

The route has hills, and many are names familiar to skiers. But much of the course runs along rivers and streams in lush valleys and through villages.

Passing through the towns of Moreland and Waitsfield, runners will cross the Pine Brook and Village Covered Bridges. The Mad River Valley and the White River Valley are exceptionally enjoyable with the route crossing another covered bridge - the Warren Bridge. Then, for many miles, the course skirts the edge of the Green Mountain National Forest through lush emerald valleys as it heads south on Route 100.

Ski resorts such as Killington, Okemo, and Bromely Mountain are incorporated into the course. The 35 relay exchange points themselves create interest, including Bill’s Country Store, the Long Trail Brewery, Stockbridge Village, and the Mill Tavern.

The relay breaks off from Route 100 at Rawsonville and heads directly west through the Green Mountain National Forest, passing the Appalachian Trail for the second time just west of Bromely Mountain Resort. Staying within the GMNF, the course heads southwest parallel to Route 7A on mostly back roads. It passes through Manchester Depot, Sunderland, Arlington, and Shaftsbury. The Chiselville Bridge is the seventh covered bridge, located on leg 32 approaching Arlington. The course runs just east of Mount Aeolus, Bear Mountain, Big Equinox Mountain (the highest peak in the Taconics), Little Equinox, and Spruce Peak.

Picturesque streams and villages highlight the final miles into Bennington and to the finish line at Willow Park. There are three additional covered bridges near the course spanning the Waloomsac River near the finish on the north side of Bennington.

Bennington is an historic town, the sixth largest in Vermont, but has a small town atmosphere. There are many restored and well-maintained colonial era buildings. It was chartered in 1749 by Governor Wentworth of New Hampshire (the New Hampshire Grants), but was not settled until after the French and Indian War, 1761. The historic buildings of old town and the battle monument make a great walking tour to loosen up after the relay. The Bennington Museum and Bennington Pottery Gallery are worth a visit. Many of Grandma Moses’ works are on display, one of many famous residents of the area. Some of the founders of Vermont, five Vermont Governors, and famous poet Robert Frost are buried at the Old Burying Ground.

Who Will Run?
Running clubs and other organizations from throughout the country will challenge New England clubs and each other in this remarkable event. The Ultra teams of six members will add a different dynamic altogether. Some clubs will send teams to compete with each other. Schools and social organizations will participate for the challenging experience, and some will use the event as a fundraiser.

There are seven divisions for 12-person teams: women’s, men’s, mixed teams (6 to 11 women), and “open” teams, which is made up of any combination of women and men. These four can be any age combination. There is also a masters’ division —all members over 40, any combination. There are also two unique divisions: The High School Division (all students, any combination – these teams are granted a discounted entry fee), and the Hash House Harriers (H3).

The two Ultra categories will be made up of any age/sex combination, and will compete as 6 X 1 ultra single runs, or 6 X 6 running six legs each with the same exchanges as the 12-person teams.

Can Do
The relay is designed for average runners, as well as elite runners. All 36 legs are scenic and enjoyable. The shortest leg is 2.7 miles, and the longest is 10.1. The average for 36 legs is 5.62 miles, an average total of 16.86 miles for each runner. Legs are categorized as easy, moderate, hard, and very hard (only one is listed as very hard because of a long, steep hill). The hard and very hard earn the tag because the challenging terrain. (Individual legs are graded just on terrain as the mileage speaks for itself, but when I ranked the runner positions 1 through 12, then I did take mileage into account). Most of the legs (25) fall into the easy to moderate categories. Safety concerns have the highest priority at all times.

The easiest combination of legs is scheduled for runner number two, with three easy legs and a total of only 12.2 miles. The eleventh runner has the hardest combination—hard, very hard, and moderate—and also the longest total at 21.3, as well as the longest single run (10.1), and the most net elevation gain on a single leg (1,094 feet). The fifth and ninth runners also exceed 20 miles in total, while the others fall between 13.8 and 18.0.

The ultra teams will be responsible for twice that distance, but can accomplish the run in two ways: The 6 X 1 Ultra teams will each run one ultra leg averaging 33.7 miles. These legs vary in distance and difficulty ranging from 30.2 to 36.3 miles The 6 X 6 ultra teams will run the same legs and sequence as 12 person teams, but will be responsible for six legs each. There is a wider variation in total miles ranging from 30.2 to 41.8!

Whatever the combination, this relay will build camaraderie and teamwork. It will be the ideal team-building exercise for any group or club, small or large.

Volunteer Options
Over 150 volunteers will be required in order to provide a quality experience for all participants during the 24-hour relay. As is typical in all major western relays, teams help supply volunteers. Timberline Event’s relays are unique as they offer two volunteer options: Teams can provide their own volunteers. Volunteers cannot be running team members or van drivers. Twelve person teams must supply 3 volunteers and ultra teams one. Or teams can select the non-profit volunteer option. By paying an extra fee, volunteers will be provided for them. These volunteers are from local grass-root non-profit organizations - they are volunteering as a fund-raising opportunity. Last August’s Wild West Relay raised $10,000 that was distributed to ten local organization. Timberline Events hopes to recreate that success of giving back to the local communities with the GMR.

Each volunteer will work a 4 to 6-hour shift during the relay as assigned by the race committee, with most at exchange points. Some will work between dusk and dawn. Whatever the assignment, it will be a unique and memorable experience, as well as a significant service to runners.

Company Outing
How much would your company pay for a team-building, morale-boosting outing? Many would pay plenty, and do. For a fraction of the cost charged by team-building “experts” and consultants, any company can provide a truly novel adventure in Vermont. They can sign up as a team to take part in the Green Mountain Relay. The value of this morale-building venture is priceless.

Vermont, a Very Special Place
Vermont is beautiful. It is quintessential New England, and more. It is mostly rural, lush, vibrant, friendly, welcoming, scenic, solid, and enduring. It is an ideal place to run. Much of Vermont is devoted to agriculture and is famous for dairy products, especially cheeses, butter, and Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. The beautiful forests produce world famous maple syrup and maple sugar--more than any other state. The craft of making maple syrup and sugar was learned from Native Americans more than 200 years ago. The maples and other beautiful hardwood trees are evident along the course. Two large regions make up the 370,000 acres of the Green Mountain National Forest, and the relay runs along or through both.

Vermont has an independent streak, and no wonder. It was one of three US states to have been an independent country. New Hampshire and New York both claimed it, fought over it, and were still arguing about who owned it when the Revolutionary War began. Britain also claimed it. So Vermont declared independence in 1777. Yes, it was the Independent Republic of Vermont until 1791.

Pioneers from the neighboring colony of New Hampshire claimed the New Hampshire Grants, most of what is now Vermont. Royal Governor Benning Wentworth set out the grants originally, naming Bennington after his mother, Mary Benning. New Yorkers claimed the same land. As the Revolution approached, fighting became intense. The conservative New Yorkers were Tories, and the liberal Green Mountain Boys who supported the Revolutionary cause, spearheaded the New Hampshire pioneers and fought to keep the Tories out.

The Green Mountain Boys led by Ethan Allen were vital to the Revolutionary War effort, as the British several times tried to invade the American colonies from Canada via Vermont and Lake Champlain. Bennington, where the Green Mountain Relay ends, was the scene of a critical battle won by the New Hampshire Colonial Militia led by General John Stark, along with the Green Mountain Boys. The impressive Bennington Battle Monument stands 306 feet tall at the site, the state’s tallest man made structure.

Rejecting proposals to become part of Canada, Vermont (from the French les verts mont, combining green and mountain) was admitted to the union of the United States in 1791 as the 14th state.

Vermont’s state capitol building is backed by woods in Montpelier. Its golden dome and white Doric columns contrast with emerald-leafed trees on three sides. There are 255 entities within Vermont, including 9 cities, 242 towns, and four gores and grants.

Norman Rockwell lived along the relay course in Arlington from 1939 to 1953, finding many of his models within the local area.

Vermont has many beautiful locations to run. Much of the western border is Lake Champlain, and the entire eastern border with New Hampshire is cut by the beautiful Connecticut River. The Green Mountain National Forest contains over 500 miles of hiking and running trails. When you run through Vermont, you will realize why it is such an all-season tourist destination, and a comfortable, enjoyable place for a relay challenge.

Check the Website for More Detail
Please check out the Website at for information on entry, volunteer options, leg lengths and difficulty ratings, frequently asked questions, rules for teams, runners, and vehicles, suggested and required equipment, travel information, sponsors and sponsorship opportunities, coaching assistance, and contact information.

How do you get there? Burlington is the gateway to Vermont and the start of the GMR in Jeffersonville. Burlington has an International airport along with rental cars, accommodations, and a wide variety of stores. From the south, from Burlington or Burlington International Airport, take Interstate 89 north to Exit 15, US Route 15. Stay on Route 15 north and east approximately 30 miles (45 minutes) straight into Jeffersonville. From Canada and the north, take Interstate 89 south to Exit 19, St. Albans, and take Route 104 east all the way into Jeffersonville (21 miles from I-89). Alternatively, from the south and east, take Interstate 91 to 89, (from Boston it is I-93 to I89) into Vermont. Continue on I-89 to Waterbury (Exit 10), and take Route 100 north past Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream to Stowe. From Stowe it is a very scenic drive on Route 108 north through Smuggler’s Notch to Jeffersonville, 28 miles from I-89.

There are many stores and stations along the route to purchase food, beverages, and gasoline. But few are open from 9:00 p.m. to 9:00 a.m.

As for accommodations, there are two locations in Jeffersonville, the Sterling Ridge Inn and Cabins and the Three Mountain Lodge. There are links to their sites from www.virtualvermont/towns/Jeffersonville.html. (There are also pages for all towns along the route from the Virtual Vermont Website.) Prior to the race most runners will be staying in either Burlington or Stowe where there are many choices of accommodations.

Let’s Do It
As for my team, we can’t wait for June 10th to roll around. This will be the highlight of a busy summer of running and racing. Relays have a great advantage—you get to see your teammates run. Usually you are all in a crowd and exchange pleasantries just before racing, and then after. With this event, you will be supporting teammates throughout—and they in turn will support you. It will be the ultimate team event, and at exactly the right time. Plan well, and sign up early. But do not miss this opportunity!



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