The Mad Marathon in VT made a late appearance on my race calender for this year when I scored a free entry and free lodging in mid-May. Turns out, in the five years that the race has been going on, no one from the fine state of Mississippi had ever signed up! They needed a Mississippi runner to be able to claim "we've had runners from all 50 states run our race"! I quickly remedied that situation for them and moved the Mad Marathon from my 2017 calender to my 2015 calender (yes, I have races planned that far in advance and even further). It was a mere coincidence that my choice rate for VT ended up seeking me out! I picked the Mad Marathon for my VT race because of its challenging and scenic course. Obviously I picked this race when I was in much better shape.
|We drove nearly 3 hours round trip to get a picture with this sign!|
This trip was interesting on several fronts. After a very dark drive down a very windy mountain road (and having to call someone to help me navigate a detour), I arrived at my bed and breakfast in Waitsfield very late Friday night. I had been in contact with the Innkeeper over the past several months and was informed that I would have an envelope waiting for me with keys and directions to my room. Well, Krissy arrives and while there were several envelopes, not one had my name on it. I wasn't really sure what to do since it was late and no staff were on site. So, I did what any self-respecting squatter would do and I roamed around the Inn until I found the room that was listed on my reservation. The door was open so I let myself in. I didn't get a great night's sleep because I kept worrying that someone was going to come into the room. Upon looking back at emails, I realized that I inadvertently told the Innkeeper a few days prior that I would be arriving Saturday night and not Friday night. I was never sent a reservation change notice so I assumed I was still good to go for a Friday arrival! Doh!
|Once I woke up, I realized that my view was fantastic.|
The next morning I met up with my Hawaii friend KW (we met at Jackson Hole Marathon and then ended up being travel companions for the Indy Monumental and Marshall races back in November) for a quick tour of Ben and Jerry's, lunch in downtown Burlington (where we saw two wrinkly homeless people making out hardcore on a park bench), and a stop at the Shelburne Museum to learn us some Vermont history.
|Enjoying some tasty mango sorbet.|
|In the slammer at the Shelburne Museum|
Once back at my bed and breakfast, I realized that my neighbors were having a sort of "party of 4" that seemed to go on forever (if you're my Facebook friend you know what I'm talking about). I laid out my race stuff and tried to get to bed early enough. As is my life, race day was going to be HOT and SUNNY! Oh, and did I mention that this race course is challenging (think mountains) and that I am totally out of shape? I had 6.5 hours to finish, so I was pretty sure that could at least do that. I drove to the start and got a pretty good parking spot very close to the start/finish. I dropped my bag off at bag drop (I never do this but I did not want to carry the giant rental car keys the entire race) and then said a quick hello to Dori, the amazing RD of the race that I can thank for getting me to VT on such short notice. The race started on time and the first mile was pleasant, meaning not up a hill. We ran through two covered bridges throughout the race (each of them twice too) and the first one was in the first mile. I stopped for a quick pic.
|Hey, will you take a picture of me?|
I planned to do my run/walks as much as I could, knowing that I'd have to adjust based on the hills. The first mile was all good and then we started up our first of many many many hills. Of course, I walked it. No sense in even trying to run. The course was lovely and there were many things to keep your mind occupied - mountains in the distance, cows, farms, and even other runners (many out and backs throughout the race).
|Pretty much the background the entire race.|
|Covered bridge #2|
|That's a hill ahead.|
Besides the second mile, the first 8ish miles were fairly "easy" (meaning either downhill or flat). We also had plenty of shady bits. Around mile 8, it seemed that we started the hill that would never end. The hill right at 8 was rather steep. It was even hard to walk up it with any sort of speed. And the hills (or mountains) never really stopped until it felt like after mile 20! And the shade went away around mile 16.
|One of the many barn sightings on the course|
|Needed to get a selfie with my new friends.|
|And breathtaking hills!|
Somewhere around the halfway point we started on a rather long out and back. It was nice to see other runners coming down the mountain while we were going up! I couldn't wait until that was me. The picture above is of what is known as "The Dip". Down one steep hill and then right back up on the other side. We would do that twice. It seemed that we were NEVER going to come back down. I'll say here that the aid stations were plentiful and the volunteers were amazing.
|Tell Vince I found his CD.|
|A field of new friends|
|Well that's unpleasant news.|
|Not sure what a cheese course is.........|
|Finally the last 10k!|
At some point we did start to go down a bit more than up. It seemed like that was after mile 20. It was hot so I was walking the ups, run/walking the flats, and running the downs. I never really felt bad during the race, just a bit on the hot side. There was a nice breeze, so that helped a lot. At one point there was a man with large buckets of ice and large sponges! This was the absolute best thing that ever happened to me during any race. Squeezing that sponge over my head was pure heaven!
|They were not passing out wine. Rude!|
|The course ran past my bed and breakfast around mile 24 - The Inn at the Round Barn - and they had beer but I didn't partake.|
|More quaint Vermont countryside|
We finally made our way back to downtown Waitsfield and to the finish. I finished around 5:47. Marathon #40 and state #30 were DONE! I got my hug from Dori (she hugs everyone as they finish).
|Dori - the BEST RD ever! Seriously! Go do her race!|
Overall, this was a fantastic race! It is definitely challenging though. You have heat, sun, and mountains to contend with throughout the 26.2 miles. The course is super scenic though and you'll have many cows cheering you on! My entry to the race was comped, so I can't comment on price. I stayed at the Inn at the Round Barn for three nights, which was also comped. This was a fantastic bed and breakfast. They had pre-race box breakfasts for all the runners on race morning. They even asked about dietary restrictions so mine was specially made vegan just for me. I flew into Burlington from New Orleans. My flight was $316 but I had a $50 Delta credit, so it ended up being $266. The drive from Burlington to Waitsfield was about an hour. My rental car was about $107 for Fri-Mon and I spent about $30 on gas. I cannot thank the kind people of Vermont (especially Dori the RD and Kim at the Inn) enough for the amazing time I had! After the race, Hawaii KW and I went to taste some maple syrup and see the world's biggest zipper!
|Quick! Someone get me a stack of pancakes!|
|Yup. This is the kind of stuff we drive almost 2 hours to see!|
Next up for me is Oregon next month. I'm doing the Crater Lake Marathon and I can only imagine how tough it will be. If I'm going to be there, it will of course be HOT! Combine that with mountains and altitude and a good time is sure to be had! What could possibly go wrong?