Fun times, big smiles at Middlebury’s 9th annual Maple Run

MIDDLEBURY — A cool, misty rain greeted the almost 700 runners at the ninth annual Middlebury Maple Run as a hundred-plus runners huddled in the registration area early Sunday morning to keep warm ahead of the 9 a.m. start. Then the light rain stopped, the clouds lifted and a bigger crowd than some expected headed out for either the half marathon, or 3-mile fun run, under partly sunny skies and temperatures in the 50s — perfect temps for a longer run.
Of the 827 runners who had registered from the event, 681 showed up at the start — consisting of 575 individuals who registered for the half marathon; 112 runners who were part of a relay team; and 140 runners who had signed up for the 3-mile fun run. Those overall numbers are on track with recent years, though slightly below the peak of about 1,000 who registered for the half marathon back in 2012.
Gusty winds of 15-20 mph slowed those intent or setting personal best times or for those top runners trying to set course records (none were broken, though several were set in the first year of the fun run), but overall the weather during the race was surprisingly pleasant — particularly considering the light rain in the early morning and the fact it started raining again not long after the race and during the awards ceremony.
   ALMOST 700 RUNNERS took advantage of the cool weather and enjoyed the scenic course that started and finished near Porter Hospital.
Photo courtesy of Addison County Chamber of Commerce/Stephen James
Race co-director and Addison County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Sue Hoxie noted that the 3-mile Fun Run was new this year, drawing about 140 racers, including almost 30 kids from the Salisbury Community School.
“Our goal with the fun run was to expand the audience, and bring more kids and families into the race, and we definitely achieved that,” Hoxie said, adding she was hopeful the fun run would see further growth in the years ahead.
Hoxie noted that next year would be the 10th anniversary of the race, emphasizing that the race committee had tried to add new aspects or variations to the race each year. 
“Over the years we’ve added the two-person relay race, the 3-mile fun run, finishers’ medals, the pancake break, music along the course from student bands or singing groups,” Hoxie said, also mentioning some of the most enthusiastic aid stations staffed with numerous participants from the Girls on the Run association. “They have just been terrific. We always get hundreds of comments about how great our aid stations are just because the girls are so cheerful and inspiring.”
Co-director Andrea Solomon noted that the race has also improved safety measures, and added additional traffic control, sag wagons, better signage and porta-potties along the course — all responding to suggestions from racer feedback and learning along the way.
Over $60,000 from race proceeds has been donated to more than 20 different community non-profit groups, including the three beneficiaries this year: Havurah House, WomenSafe, and the B&G Club of Vergennes.
Hoxie also noted that more than 40 percent of the entries typically come from out of state, many of whom also spend the night in the area — creating a significant boost for the local economy in an otherwise slower time of the year.
As for what lies ahead for the 10th anniversary next year, Hoxie and Solomon aren’t saying quite yet, but it’s sure to be big.
“Whatever we do,” Solomon said, “it will reflect well on what a great race this has become. It’s one of the most beautiful half marathon courses in the state, it’s well run and organized, we have wonderful volunteers and music along the way, we give out one-of-a-kind medals to all racers produced by Maple Landmarks here in Middlebury, and our prizes to the age-group winners (along with some cash for the top places) are classic maple leaf jars of maple syrup. Who beats that?!”
Top winners for this year’s race, and their times were:
Half Marathon: 1st place male, Ben Arquit, Harrison, NY (Middlebury College student), age 19, 1:21.50, 6:15 per mile pace; 1st place female, Jessica Bashaw, Cambridge, N.Y., age 34, 1:25.57, 6:34 per mile pace.
Half marathon relay: 1st place male, Fast Walkers, Brett Walker and Joshua Walker, 1:24:11, 6:26 pace; 1st place female, Chicks That Run, Darby Show, Susan Fervais, 1:40:21, 7:40 pace; 1st place mixed team, Mad Tom, Maddie Leopold, Tom Dils, 1:30:12, 6:54 pace.
3-Mile Fun Run: 1st place male, Evan Thornton-Sherman, St. Johnsbury, age 13, 17:22:59, 5:48 per mile pace; 1st place female, Melinda Noel, Rutland, age 23, 24:22:91, 8:08 pace.   STUDENTS FROM SALISBURY Community School prepare for the start of the fun run.
Independent photo/Angelo Lynn

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