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home > training > the maple leaf half marathon and 5k—resurgent popular classic in southwestern vermont

The Maple Leaf Half Marathon and 5K—Resurgent Popular Classic in Southwestern Vermont
The Maple Leaf Half Marathon and 5K will run on Saturday, September 7, 2013, in beautiful Manchester, Vermont. The organization and amenities are top notch, and the course is scenic and wonderful. There is something for everyone in this rural Vermont classic tour. It is one of those "must do" end of summer races in New England. Manchester, Vermont is a year-round sports and recreation destination in the heart of the Green Mountain National Forest.

The Maple Leaf Half Marathon and 5K—Resurgent Popular Classic in Southwestern Vermont

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Related info:
The Maple Leaf Half Marathon and 5K Website

By Skip Cleaver
Posted Thursday, 29 August, 2013

The excitement is building for Vermont’s famous Maple Leaf Half Marathon and 5K. The original Maple Leaf was famous and enormously popular in the 1970’s and 1980’s, and the Classic is back. The resurgence began in 2007, and, yes, the new Maple Leaf Half Marathon is back and as great as ever. Both races will run at 8:00 a.m. on Saturday, September 7, 2013 beginning and ending at the Dana L. Thompson Memorial Park and Recreation Center, 340 Park Recreation Road, Manchester Center, Vermont 05255.

The world class Maple Leaf Half Marathon of the 1970's and 1980's has returned and is now well established. Founded in the mid-1970's by Guy Thomas and run sporadically through the 1990’s and early 2000’s, the “new” Maple Leaf is presented by great combination of organizations headed by the Manchester and the Mountains Chamber of Commerce, the Battenkill Valley Runners, Stratton Mountain, and the Manchester Lions.

The event was revived in 2007 and is now known as “The Maple Leaf Half Marathon and Kotler 5K, presented by the Perfect Wife Restaurant, the Spiral Press Café, MVP Health Care, and Orvis.” The 5K has been renamed in honor of the recently deceased race director Len Kotler, who was instrumental in the Maple Leaf’s revival seven years ago. And it has now evolved into one of the top rated races in Vermont. The revised course is USATF certified and a true gem of New England racing. It is challenging, which has always been part of the appeal—this is Vermont with mountain vistas as a backdrop. It is a race that has been lauded as one of the top half marathons in the country for its scenic beauty, organization and competitive field.

This event is again becoming a classic for late summer racing in New England, a regional magnet for many, a signature event for the folks at Manchester and the Mountains Chamber, which represents 18 towns in the region.

Both races will kick off at an 8:00 a.m. This is a change in start time. The accompanying 5K allows everyone to get into the action. Race headquarters—packet/chip/bib pickup, bag check, start and finish as well as post race celebrations--will be at the Park Recreation Center. For those friends and family not running either event, the Dana Thomson Recreation Park includes a playground, sports fields, a dog park, a lovely one-mile walking path, the Manchester skateboard park, swimming pool, slides and other recreation facilities.

Make a weekend of it. There is much to see in Manchester as noted below, and they are offering a Friday night pre race Runner’s Dinner (6:00 to 7:30 p.m. at the Recreation Center) as well as a day-after Sunday brunch from 8:00 to 10:00 a.m. at the Spiral Press Café with a special enhanced menu and continuous video of the races playing.

Hills are challenging but not overwhelming and climbs are generally short, but that has always been part of the allure. This is an intriguing route for many reasons with great views of serene forest and the mountains in the background.

Registration, Packet Pick Up and Amenities
Please be aware that the events combined are capped at 1,000 participants and will very likely close out early. And there will be NO race day registration. On-line registration is preferred and you can also make a reservation for the Runner’s Dinner or a tech shirt.

There will be an opportunity to pick up your bib number and race packet in advance the day before the race, on Friday, September 6, from 4:00 to 7:30 p.m. at the Park and Recreation Center. Packet pickup will also be available there on race day morning, September 7 from 6:00 to 7:30 a.m. Computer chip timing by Granite State Race Services using the Chronotrack B-tag system will provide accurate and immediate results for all. The chips are in the bib number, are light, disposable (a keepsake), and very accurate—overall time and net time.

There will be plenty of parking at the Park Recreation Center with a line of porto potties. There will be eight fluid stations on the half marathon course, with every other one providing both water and Gatorade. All half marathon participants receive a finisher’s medal upon crossing the finish line, as well as a commemorative gift, which has yet to be announced.

All can expect food and refreshments with live music at the post race festivities, all very satisfying.

Please see the Race Website for details on the race generally, the course (with course maps), registration information, awards details, FAQ’s, directions and parking, contacts, lodging suggestions, post race plans, charities, teams, sponsors, schedule, past results, photos, and more:

The Schedule for Race Weekend
Friday, September 6, 2013
4:00 to 7:30 p.m. Race Packet pickup, Recreation Center *
6:00 to 7:30 p.m. Runner’s Dinner, provided by Perfect Wife Restaurant at the Recreation Center

Saturday, September 7, 2013
6:00 to 7:30 a.m. Race Packet pickup, Recreation Center
8:00 a.m. Half Marathon Start
8:00 a.m. 5K Run and Fitness Walk Start
9:30 a.m. Post Race Celebrations Begin
9:30 a.m. 5K Awards
10:30 a.m. Half Marathon Awards

*Late Registration, if not closed out, may be available at the Recreation Center during packet pickup, and earlier on Friday at the Perfect Wife Restaurant (State Route 11/30). There will be NO race-day registration. On line registration closes September 4 or when the 1,000 cap is reached.

Sunday Brunch available from 8:00 to 10:00 a.m. at the Spiral Press Café with a special enhanced menu and continuous video of the races playing.

About the Course
The half marathon course is USATF-certified, and is basically a clockwise loop on mostly rural roads of Manchester Center, Manchester, and Manchester Depot. The course winds through Manchester Village and beautiful countryside past livestock, cornfields and barns. The total climb is 816 feet and the total elevation change is 1631 feet with significant hills at miles four, five and nine. The hill at nine miles is the high point on the course at over 1,000 feet but from there it’s all downhill to the finish line. Manchester lies in the Battenkill Valley between the Green Mountains dominated by Stratton Mountain to the east and Mount Equinox and Bear Mountain of the Taconic Range to the west. These vistas provide participants with breathtaking views.

The course will take you through truly gorgeous Vermont landscapes as it runs from a rural downtown community to picturesque village setting to country roads to hilly farm lands back to the finish. Added to the beauty of the setting is the fact that Vermont will be in the early stages of fall foliage.

From a practical standpoint, this is a time when meals and lodging are at off-season rates.

The 5K is a counter-clockwise loop around Manchester Center, and notable in that the last mile is on a wooded park path back to the Park Recreation Center.

A Little Maple Leaf Half Marathon History
In 1979 Patti Catalano set a women’s world record half marathon time here of 1:14:03. Herb Lindsay did the same in 1981 with a 1:01:47. Other notable participants have included many Olympic and international greats such as Greg Meyer, Jon Sinclair, Frank Shorter, Rob DeCastella, Joan Benoit Samuelson, Vermont’s own Judy St. Hilaire, Alison Roe, Bart Yasso and Benji Durden. In its early years the Maple Leaf Half Marathon drew athletes nationally. The half marathon was a favorite tune-up amongst competitive runners for the New York City Marathon. Combining the race’s history of competition with the cultural and aesthetic environs, and the great support for runners, assures you a wonderful race, whether you’re here for a personal record, a first ever 5K, a first ever half marathon, a fun run, or just a fitness walk. Plan on a fabulous weekend in Vermont.

Manchester and the Region
The Manchester area is a mecca for sports including running, skiing, golf and equine activities. It is also known for fine dining, cultural events and discount name brand shopping at a variety of outlets. This has been a tourist destination since just after the Civil War and really became famous when the rails came to town in the late 1800’s. It is a region of extraordinary natural beauty and unique features. As noted, the mountains in the area are spectacular. The Green Mountain National forest and the Lye Brook Wilderness area lie just east, as does the Appalachian Trail. The protected area of Mount Equinox and its famous skyline drive are immediately west.

Manchester was chartered in 1761 by New Hampshire Colonial Governor Benning Wentworth, and named for Robert Montagu, 3rd Duke of Manchester. At that time Vermont was claimed by both New Hampshire and New York. Manchester was settled in 1764, and most of the town was laid out just after the Revolution.

Interesting side note: because Vermont was claimed by two neighbors its destiny was not settled and therefore was not one of the original 13 states. It claimed independence on its own in January of 1777 as “New Connecticut”, and then adopted the name Vermont in July 1777. It was an independent country until 1791 when it was admitted as the 14th state of the United States.

Consider spending some time in this beautiful locale either before or after the race. Manchester has Elm-lined streets and marble sidewalks and is nestled in the shadow of Mount Equinox, the highest mountain in the Taconic Range at 3,848 feet.

There is a lot to see and do. For example, visit the Southern Vermont Art Center and its galleries and sculpture garden and its 407-acre campus with walking trails; the Frog Hollow State Craft Center; the Hildene Mansion, home of Robert Todd Lincoln, son of President Lincoln and President and Chairman of Pullman Company. Lincoln first visited Manchester in 1863 with his mother, and came back to build this 24-room summer mansion and 412-acre estate and farm. It is open for visitors; Lincoln’s descendents lived on the estate until 1975.

For variety visit the American Museum of Fly Fishing. Note that Orvis Fishing Tackle is the oldest surviving mail order retailer in the country, founded in 1956. Manchester was the original home of Burton Snowboards. And a favorite for many locals and visitors is the Northshire Bookstore, one of America’s leading independent bookstores.

Take the Skyline Drive tour to the top of Equinox to view the valley below, the Green Mountains, and portions of New York, Quebec, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire.

For some helpful hints, discounts and coupons, visit the Manchester and the Mountains Chamber of Commerce offices at 39 Bonnet Street, Manchester Center, Vermont 05255 (new location). phone 802-362-2100 or

In 2012 nearly 600 runners toed the starting line for the half marathon and close to 300 came to run the 5K. This year is expected to reach the cap of 1,000 early. Helen Dole of New York, New York won the women’s half in a time of 1:33:28 in a battle with Liz Kantack of nearby Stratton Mountain (1:34:28); and Tim Van Orden of neighboring Bennington, Vermont won the men’s race in 1:21:35 with only a 9 second edge over Daniel Hebert of Charlotte, Vermont. The 5K was won by Katie Abrahamson of Ballston Lake, New York in 23:38, and Cole Whitaker of Cuttingsville, Vermont won the men’s contest in 20:27.

You have got to do this one. Proceeds will benefit charities of the Manchester Lions Club, the Battenkill Valley Runners, and Manchester Parks and Recreation. Visit today and sign up for this classic race and see what Manchester and southwestern Vermont have to offer!



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