Embrace the Start of Summer with the 2008 Green Mountain Relay
Enjoy 200 miles of beautiful Vermont at the Summer Solstice—36 legs, north to south, running though some of the most beautiful scenery in the east.
Posted Sunday, 10 February, 2008
Vermont is a quiet place, verdant and naturally ebullient - a stunning place to run. In areas like the Granville Gulf, babbling brooks, rushing streams and waterfalls slice the silence. Elsewhere the occasional deer or moose, fox or Fisher cat, frog peepers and bird life cut the silence. In the dark there is comfort from the village lights on far away hillsides, the wood smoke and the guttural resonances of an owl or a hyena. It is a place where you can run free like the wind, and quite possibly find life-altering experiences. Whatever it is that you individually seek while you are striding forward, you are sure to meet wonderful people, be well supported and celebrated, and most importantly have fun participating in the Green Mountain Relay.
Now in its third year, the Green Mountain Relay has moved from early June to the weekend of the summer solstice and will be held on June 21-22. This promises us more daylight and eliminates runner conflicts with other popular events earlier in the month. Already GMR entries have increased significantly in what looks to be a fun and competitive field, offering a mix of experiences for all kinds of runners.
Starting in Jeffersonville on the back side of Mt. Mansfield’s Smugglers Notch, the Green Mountain Relay runs the length of Vermont’s middle corridor along Route 100. Whether on Route 100, or on secondary paved or dirt roads, the route is always scenic. Runners pass through historic parts of Vermont and cross seven covered bridges. From Jeffersonville, a short drive from Burlington, the route progresses to Stowe, crosses over to the Mad River Valley, stretches along the edge of the Green Mountains, and heads down through the Granville Gulf into Rochester and past Killington Peak. While the mountains remain with you throughout, there are also open farmlands and beautiful views. The terrain provides everything from flat and fast to tough uphills like Terrible Mountain. The downhill into the finish line in Bennington provides one of the most breathtaking vistas in Vermont with the Bennington Battle Monument constant on the horizon. The entire course is a collage of idyllic Vermont postcard scenes.
Race director Paul Vanderheiden of Timberline Events also stages the successful Wild West Relay in Colorado. It is important to him to give something back to the communities that his relay events pass through. Therefore, Paul created the non-profit organization, Volunteers With A Purpose, Inc. (VWAP). Teams have the option to either supply volunteers to help with the Relay or to make a tax-deductible contribution to VWAP. Contributions to VWAP go to local non-profits who supply volunteer help during the Relay as a fund-raising opportunity for their organizations. VWAP has been well received by the running community and local non-profit groups. Since 2005, Timberline Events has raised and distributed over $56,000.00 to non-profit organizations in Colorado and Vermont. Some of the participating Vermont organizations have included Habitat for Humanity, Women Helping Battered Women, the Manchester Lions Club, and the Ottaquechee Community Partnership.
The Green Mountain Relay is also associated with the national Need for Speed Against Domestic Violence series organized by the Avon Foundation. Teams are invited to fundraise to support this worthy cause. The money raised stays in Vermont and is distributed to the Vermont Network Against Domestic Violence, an umbrella organization that serves sixteen member domestic violence organizations throughout Vermont.
With the help of local assistant director Susan McNamara, attention is paid to every detail to ensure that the citizens and property along the way are respected and that the runners are cared for. Some of my favorite moments when I ran the GMR in bad weather in 2006 were stopovers along the way in small Mom & Pop country stores. The proprietors allowed us room to stretch and dry out on their shop floors and warmed us with hot coffee and maple donuts. I was also grateful for the intimacy and bonding of friendships that occurred so easily when tired runners on a tough mission were housed in a cramped, smelly and wet van. My senior women’s ultra team missed the event last year, but we are returning this year to defend our title. Keep a watch for the “Vermont Hot Shoes” and our return.
Race categories include 12 person teams, ultra teams of six runners, or a Super-Ultra category of one to three person teams. The categories are further broken down by gender: female, male and mixed, and by age: masters. Additionally, there is a Hash House Harrier category. High school teams get a substantial discount for participating. Each team covers 36 legs of distances ranging from 2.1 miles to 9.9 miles, ranked from easy to very hard, with runner exchange zones at the end of each leg. On a 12 person team, runner totals range from 10.8 to 21.3 miles, with each team member running three times. Runners must stay in their starting order and, if anyone has to drop, the remaining team members must continue in the set order. If your team prefers not to run in a set order, there is the non-competitive Helter Skelter category.
With the increase in participants and the excitement already generating in communities along the course, 2008 will be a special event. Although there will be no full moon, the race date falls on the longest day of the year, with light until well past 9 PM. Join the fun while seeing the best of Vermont - check out www.greenmountainrelay.com and sign up your team today.