The Maaaaaaad Hills of Vermont
Two Half Marathons, Two States, One Day Apart.
A mere 24 hours ago, I crossed the finish line at the Shipyard Old Port Half Marathon in Portland, Maine and was filming a wrap-up segment. Fast forward to a four hour car ride through the stunning countryside of New Hampshire and into the roving hills of Vermont (nicknamed the Green Mountain State), I arrived in the small town of Waitsfield. I’ve never run back-to-back half marathons one day apart, let alone in two different states. Apparently, I am late to this running party because at least 30% of the runners I saw the day before in Portland also made the same trek to Vermont. With the costs of travel and race fees these days, more and more people are looking to complete their #50for50Challenge. This lofty challenge is when a person runs 50 full or 50 half marathons (or both in some cases) in 50 states. These folks plan their race calendars around places and races where they can knock off multiple states during a given weekend.
The Mad Half Marathon…the world’s most beautiful marathon
The Seventh Annual Mad Marathon, Mad Half and relays are in the gorgeous Mad River Valley, located in Central Vermont. Runners have the ability to race through this extraordinary rural community on back and dirt roads, with breathtaking views of the Green Mountains, challenging rolling farmlands with tough climbs and descents, quaint villages, historic barns, covered bridges, fields, and of course of course, Vermont’s famous cows!
Takeaways from this race experience:
- Boston marathon qualifier – this always seems to be one of the first questions for hardcore runner’s and this race course is certified and sanctioned by U.S. Track & Field (VT11012RF).
- No expo…just a table and a small tent – when you arrive to pick-up your race bib, you walk up to a table, grab your bib and T-shirt. No need for fancy vendors, just a 1-2-3 in & out experience.
- Race Director Dory Ingalls – is one of the friendliest and most accommodating people and race director’s I have come across in my travels. Email her and she will promptly reply. Ask her for a place to stay or a preferred local restaurant, and she will offer to make an introduction.
- Start and Finish Line – the race begins and ends on the Mad River Green as runners cross over a barn type structure with a rooster on top pointing ahead.
- Take it easy or take it tough…they have a race for every runner – walkers are welcome, half marathoners, marathoners and relays are available depending on your race cup of tea.
- Run for Hannah’s House – add meaning to your run by raising funds for Hannah’s House, a community supported nonprofit mental health center with offices in Waitsfield, and Waterbury VT. Team Hannah runners have played a vital role in helping provide mental health services to the community since the first Mad Marathon in 2011.
- The Heat and the Hills – if you actually take a minute to look at the elevation map, I can promise you it is spot on. The ascents will test your calves and the heat will test your mind. Without a doubt, the views are breathtaking and worth the mileage on your feet, but be prepared to be challenged!
- Cows, Cows and more Vermont Cows! – there are no shortage of cows happy to pose for selfies.
- The Bling – if you don’t think this matters to runners, you are likely kidding yourself.
- Ben and Jerry’s Factory Tour – If you are six feet above ground and you love life, head to the factory! Take their 30-minute guided tour which includes a creative 5-minute video of their history, a step by step overhead view of their manufacturing process, and most importantly, taste-test their current and new products.Tickets are extremely cheap: $4/adult, $3/senior, and free for kids (12 and under).
- Warren Falls – I loved visiting these falls and spent the better part of a few hours relaxing at them. Take time out of your trip to hit up this little gem…I promise you will not be disappointed.
Whatever you decide, get your behind to Vermont and take in all the state has to offer including their cheese!
And if you see Dori, tell her Run4Papa said he will spectate next time and watch other runners tackle those hills and heat…