Disclaimer: I received an entry into the Vermont City Marathon to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!Pre-Race
As you may know by this point, I am not a phenomenal planner, so of course I had family things to do marathon weekend that made it so I wasn’t able to be in Burlington nearly as much as I would have liked. Originally I didn’t think it would be that big of a deal, but after seeing how much the entire town gets into the race, I really would love to make an entire weekend of it next time! I haven’t run many large races to compare, but living so close to Boston I have spectated the Boston Marathon many years, and Vermont had the similar feel of the entire city being taken over by running. Needless to say, it was very cool!
My boyfriend and I arrived Saturday evening (after a few delays) right at the end of the expo so we didn’t get to really see all the awesomeness. Though the volunteers were INSANELY friendly and helpful in suggesting food stops, shops, race day spectating spots, or any other tips you needed about the area or race!
I love camping (and saving money isn’t terrible) so if I can I generally try and find a campsite rather than hotel for racecations. I found the North Beach Campground was not only right on the bike path that was part of the course, but it was only a little over a mile away from the start! I loved that in a worst case scenario of being unable to find parking (since the start was in downtown), Christian could just drop me off and walk back to the action. This also gave us the option of just walking to the start as a nice morning activity/warm up. In the end it was torrential raining all night making for a pretty cold next morning so we opted to drive.Race Day
I generally am laid back about races and don’t need to be at the start much earlier than necessary so the 6 minute drive was perfect to let me sleep in as much as possible. Also contrary to my worries, we had no issue finding parking what so ever, even with it being the latest time they recommended parking due to road closures. AND we were only like a 5 minute walk away from the start.
The park that the start is held at was mildly chaotic, but again I’ve never had experience with such a large race before so it easily could have just been the sheer amount of runners. We were in line for the port-o-potties when they announced that we needed to evacuate the park because of a severe storm. I honestly thought it was a joke at first because the half of the sky I had been looking at looked like a beautiful day, but looking the opposite direction it looked SUPER ominous. We evacuated to the nearest building which, for Christian and I, ended up being an awesome little church. Since we were all just hanging out, the pastor decided to redo a portion of the morning’s service. It was all running/racing based and included a talk/prayer and a song! It was honestly really, really cool and I was really grateful for the storm in the end because as a non-religious person I would have never gotten to experience it had there been no evacuation. We also happened to take shelter with the local weatherman so we got a live weather forecast and update about the storm afterwards! It down poured and lightninged, but it passed pretty quickly and we were allowed back to the start.The Race!!
The start was HUGE! It was kind of hard to squeeze into place, but once it actually started the pace picked up surprisingly quickly! There were a lot of people around you for awhile, but I didn’t feel like people were in the way or slowing/blocking me. After the storm passed it seemed like it was going to be a hot, sunny day so I tried to drink a little water at every station. Literally my only “complaint” about this race was that the water was in plastic cups instead of paper, making it so I couldn’t squeeze the top shut for a smaller hole to drink from. For me being able to use that technique is a big deal because otherwise I’m hopeless at drinking from a cup 😅
The first segment flew by! (But it was only a 5k..) And we were back at the start area! I did REALLY like this course’s “clover” shape so you see your spectators 3 times not including the start and finish. That also means you have 3 mid-race segments that have end-of-race crowd density while you run through the center of downtown that’s been completely closed off by the race and spectators. Again, I felt that little Boston vibe.
The second segment is an out and back over a closed segment of highway (but scenic highway). I’m pretty sure it was gradually downhill out and gradually uphill back. I was a fan. It was also cool because we drove down it as we left and I was all, “This looks familiar.. wait we ran here!” and Christian wouldn’t believe they closed the whole highway down for us until I showed him it definitely was on the course map. I always think it’s neat when they shut down and let runners take over entire roads for races!
Once in downtown again I got a lay! It was crazy how many people there were with signs or handing out things to help runners (nutrition, hydration, and motivation-wise). I feel like the rest of the race, anytime we were running through neighborhoods, every local was outside cheering or offering you something. As for my race, I accidentally totally subconsciously sped up at mile 12 because half marathons.. oops. And kept it up through 15 because we were back in town and it was hard not to get overly hyped. There was also one big hill DURING the crowded section (YAAAAAS hills ❤️)so you know I was going to try and sprint up that.
The last section was definitely not my best. I started having some stomach problems at mile 17ish, I think. I wasn’t thinking I could eat my fuel anymore and plain water sounded awful. Luckily there were an INSANE amount of locals handing out ice pops and watermelon which did sound ok so I lived off crowd support the rest of the race. I think part of my problem was I don’t plan ahead so I hadn’t really looked at the course in detail and though the segments were more even. The last one being extra long when I didn’t expect it was definitely disheartening. Mile 21 I slowly started my pity party and now I wish I had thought to bring my Aftershokz for when I did actually need something to take my mind off the race. At mile 23 my hip (sleeping on the ground definitely left me sore) started to hurt so badly I came stupidly close to stopping. Honestly I think I might have if I hadn’t had to quit Providence at mile 23. For some reason that was the last straw, and there was absolutely no way I was stopping at the exact same mile again. I think I had even talked myself into being able to stop at 24, just not 23 lol. But then soon as I got to 24 I started feeling better and kind of figured I should just finish it at this point 😂 It was definitely hard running directly by my campsite. I think 25 is when the 4 hour pacers caught me so I cranked out mile 26 way faster than I thought I could in order to pass them back. The last like 100-200 meters was on grass which was a really cool throwback to highschool XC for me! I made my goal of under 4 hours with 3:57:51, but by gun time I missed it by 5 seconds (which doesn’t actually matter, just makes my finish photo looks SUPER disappointing 😂).Post Race
Like I said, I had to scoot after the race, even more so with the late start since we were now late to checkout of our campsite. But again the whole city was in on the race so the campground already knew and weren’t upset. We did run by the Ben & Jerry’s factory on our way out, but the tours aren’t self-guided and everyone seemed to have the same idea so we didn’t have time. We did take a look at the ice cream flavor graveyard though which I didn’t know was a thing, but was funny!