Holly's recap of the 2016 Vermont City Marathon and video.
I picked the Vermont City Marathon for Vermont because it has quite the reputation for being a very well run race and the spectator support is outstanding. One of those statements is true, the other not so much. I was super excited for this race weekend because I would be running with my great running pal, Jessica and we would get to see her Dad, Steve and her adorable daughter Harper. We had a blast leading up to the race and you can read about that in a previous post.
Jessica and I were stalking the weather all week and it looked like it was going to be a warm one. The race kept sending out warm weather updates and said they were prepared with extra water, ice, etc. The race had a late start of 8 am and we were hoping they would move it up to 7am to try and beat the heat. They said that they couldn’t do it due to the staffing and logistics with the city. Interestingly enough the Buffalo Marathon was held on the same day and they DID move their start time and it proved to be very successful for them
We got to the start area and it was quite warm as we expected. The sun was out and it was humid, but we were smart and we were well hydrated and planned to drink extra at the stops and to slow down our normal pace. We started off by going through downtown Burlington and the crowd support was great. We saw Dave a few times and then headed out on the worst part of the course, the part they billed as scenic and a real treat to run on. It was a long out and back on a boring highway. There was no shade so it was hot. The water spots were far apart and we were surprised they didn’t add more given the conditions. We get to the one on the highway and there is NO water, or Gatorade. This was not good. Jessica and I were lucky and we carry our own bottles and they were still relatively full. Most others were not. I knew at this point that they were not prepared like they said they would be. I have run another hot race, Chicago 2007 and this same thing happened and they ended up cancelling the race. I was worried it would happen here but thankfully the next stop was fully stocked and we didn’t have an issue again.
We headed back in to town and saw Dave and his college roommate Duncan and they gave us some orange slices and said we looked a lot better than most people running by them. We were good, we were hot but we were smart and listening to our body. We headed back out of town up a huge hill that took you by the finish line. The sun had gone in at this point and it had actually gotten cooler. We were both feeling good. We got to mile 17 and a fireman got out of his truck and said. "That’s it, the race is called, it’s over" I couldn’t believe it. It was finally cool and why would they cancel it now?
We kept going because Dave was up ahead at Mile 18 so we figured if we had to we would get a ride back with him. None of the volunteers knew what was going on. Some said we could keep going, some said they thought the clocks would be turned off, some said the water stations would not be supported. No consistent message at all. Jessica and I decided to keep going because we both felt fine. The spectators were great. They all had hoses going and were handing out water, fruit and popsicles. We weren’t sure if the race would count but we figured let’s keep going. We got to the 20 mile timing clock and mat and it is still on. We got text messages with our times so I thought we would get a finish time. We passed another clock that was still on. We also passed MarathonFoto photographers who were still out on the course taking our pictures. All the water stations were manned and they were cheering us on to keep going. It was a normal race. We were getting towards the finish and we both didn’t feel great at this point so we decided to play it safe and walk a bit more.
Dave was great and found us on the course a bunch more times. We got close to the finish and could see a thunderstorm was getting close so we picked up the pace. We ran towards the finish line and the clock was still on, again MarathonFoto was there taking our pictures, and we got high fives from race officials. We were texted our finish times. It was a normal finish line experience. BUT it wasn’t. Later that night we found out that the race director decided not to count anyone who finished after 4:30. A time he determined based on when he decided to call the race. He said he called the race due to something called wet bulb temperature. I asked him what the temperature readings were and he said he didn’t remember. What? You cancel the race for the first time in history and you don’t know what the readings are? I have to say I am extremely disappointed in the follow-up and the way this cancellation was handled. When Chicago was cancelled, it was very obvious it was cancelled. The road to continue was blocked off. It was clearly communicated that the race was OVER. That was not the case here and the fact that I have a time and he won’t let it be in the official results is just ridiculous. So now it looks like we have to go back to Vermont to get an "official" result for my 50 states quest. Unfortunately there aren’t a lot of choices in this small state so I may have to go back and do this awful race director’s race again, which will completely kill me.