The Middlebury Maple Run, an annual half marathon, took place in and around Middlebury on Sunday, May 7, beginning at 9 a.m. The race covered 13.1 miles that started on South Street, passed the University of Vermont Morgan Horse Farm, passed down Weybridge Street for a section and looped through Middlebury’s campus before ending behind Porter Hospital, according to the Maple Run website.
Co-race director Sue Hoxie said that the race organizers have tried to add new components each year. “We try to add something new or different each year to keep the event fresh,” Hoxie said. “Over the years we’ve added the 2-person relay race, the 3M Fun Run, [which is] new this year, finishers’ medals, the pancake breakfast [and] music along the course from student bands. There are other things we’ve added that are less apparent to the runners such as improved safety measures, sag wagon, signage along the course, potties along the course.”
Conditions were favorable, although runners did have to endure a brief spell of light rain early on in the race, according to runners who participated. In addition to the individuals’ half marathon, the Maple Run offered a relay covering the same distance and a 3-mile “Fun Run” that traversed a shorter portion of the course.
Middlebury students were well-represented in the field of runners in the half marathon, with multiple students completing the race among the top ten of all finishers. Ben Arquit ’20 took first out of the entire field, finishing the course in 1:21. James Lumley ’19 took third, finishing in 1:25, and Jacob Brady ’17 finished sixth with a time of 1:26, according to the race’s results page.
Runners in the half marathon showcased a range of ability and experience level. Allison Stevens ’20.5 hadn’t had much competitive running experience prior to training for the Maple Run.
“I had never run a half marathon, but it has always been on my bucket list,” Stevens said. “It gave me a goal to work towards.”
The race does have a time cut-off that, according to the website, encourages an overall competitive field. Runners had to maintain a rough 13-minute mile pace to avoid their times being discounted.
“The majority of the people were running a very decent pace,” Stevens said. “The cut-off time was two and a half hours, so no one could really walk or run much slower.”
The Maple Run’s course took runners on packed dirt roads for about half of the race and cement streets for the other half. Traffic in and around Middlebury was slowed due to road closures on South Street and South Street Extension. Runners said that conditions were decent overall, with light rain falling for some of the race.
“The weather was ideal for a race since it wasn’t too hot and slightly rainy,” said Julia Sinton ’20.5, a Middlebury native who ran the race.
The Maple Run has historically attracted hundreds of runners from around Vermont and the greater New England area. As in years past, participants from Vermont comprised a majority of runners who competed. Middlebury, Burlington, Salisbury and Montpelier were particularly well-represented in the field. The race drew about 700 runners total among the three races offered. The race was sponsored by an array of local organizations and businesses such as Cabot cheese, Two Brothers Tavern, the Addison County Chamber of Commerce and the National Bank of Middlebury, among others.
Hoxie said that the race has had a significant impact on the Middlebury community, from fundraising goals achieved to a tourism uptake.
“When it was founded in 2009 the goal was strictly fundraising and creating an event during tourism’s ‘shoulder’ season to bring people to town during a down time of year,” she said. “We’ve achieved both of those goals. The race has donated about $60K out to local non-profits [since it was founded] and typically 40 percent of the runners come from out of state.”
Sinton shared that the race had a positive, supportive feel that was enhanced by bystander cheering as well as runners cheering for each other. “Running through campus around mile 7 was ideal because that’s when I needed a boost, and a lot of my friends and other community members were there yelling with signs,” Sinton said. “At one point I saw my first grade teacher cheering runners on and it made me smile.”