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Middlebury half marathon draws 1,000

MIDDLEBURY — Bristol 38-year-old Todd Smith, coming off a three-hour-39-minute finish in the Boston Marathon less than three weeks earlier, was almost within sweating distance of Middlebury College senior Melake Getabecha near the end of Sunday morning’s fifth annual Middlebury Maple Run — The Sweetest Half. But the Denver resident pulled out the win in a time of one hour, 14 minutes and 50 seconds; Smith crossed the finish line nine seconds later.
The winner of the women’s division was also a familiar face to those in the local running community. Twenty-two-year-old Margo Cramer, who finished up her All-American running career at Middlebury College a year ago, won the 13.1-mile half marathon in 1:27:37. She was 25 seconds ahead of Middlebury sophomore Catherine Costley.
They were the top of a record field in the race that ran from Porter Hospital, into Weybridge, back through the college campus, and out South Street Extension to the Middlebury Volunteer Ambulance Association parking lot. Organizer Sue Hoxie said the sunny, cool weather was perfect for the 1,013 runners who registered for the race this year.
“It was beyond expectations,” said Hoxie, who was Middlebury Maple Run co-director of the race with Andrea Solomon. “We said we’d reach 1,000 by year five and we achieved that.”
Hoxie said the level of competition was very good, and has improved since the race started in 2009 with 225 runners toeing the starting line. In addition to the tight finish at the front of the pack, Sunday’s race featured new masters records with Tom Thurston of Waterbury setting the standard in the men 40-and-over division at 1:19:21, and women 40-and-over winner Natalie Searle of East Wallingford setting the new record at 1:36:42.
In the relay competition, 88 two-person teams competed. The overall team winner, and male team winner, was The Wind, consisted of Middlebury Union Middle School students Julian Schmitt and Willem Landis, who completed the course in 1:35:54. The women’s team winner was SMS Nordic, aka Mollie Hoopes and Katharine Ogden, who ran 1:39:25. The Vergennes couple of Ben and Lauren Bruno, who ran 1:42:36, won the mixed division.
In addition to providing a good race for the runners, the Maple Run has brought those athletes and their families to town consistently for five years, Hoxie pointed out. Several of the local hotels were full this weekend, Hoxie said, acknowledging that there was also a lacrosse tournament in town that also drew visitors.
“I’m sure a couple hundred people stayed locally (for the race),” she said.
Hoxie is pleased with the number of runners the race drew this year, but she said she and the other organizers hope to possibly draw a few more runners from outside the region next year by advertising the race on websites for those looking to run a half marathon in all 50 states. Forty percent of the registrants this year came from outside Vermont.
Changes this year that might have drawn more participants were an easier-to-use online registration form and a partnership with the July 7 Mad Marathon in Waitsfield, wherein runners who compete in both the Maple Run and the marathon will get a combined score that qualifies them for prizes.
Hoxie looks for the successful race this weekend and the beautiful course itself to continue to draw lots of enthusiastic participants next year.
“Everybody loves the course and the great Vermont scenery,” Hoxie said.
The top-10 finishers were: 1. Melake Getabecha, 22, Denver, 1:14:50; 2. Todd Smith, 38, Bristol, 1:14:59; 3. Michael Bumstein, 23, Brookline, Mass., 1:16:38; 4. Joseph Damron, 22, Middlebury, 1:18:12; 5. J. Matthew Medeiros, 27, Saranac, N.Y., 1:18:52; 6. Tom Thurston, 49, Waterbury, 1:19:21; 7. George Adams, 42, Gilsum, N.H., 1:19:37; 8. Dave Dunham, 49, Bradford, Mass., 1:20:01; 9. Mac Stormont, 22, Atlanta, 1:20:14; and 10. Brian Pellicano, 20, Burlington, 1:20:37.
Complete race results are online at www.coolrunning.com/results/13/vt/May5_Middle_set1.shtml.

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