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Friday, Sep 29, 2023

Local runners take sweet strides

The sun was shining, the sky was blue and local runners took to the roads for the second annual Middlebury Maple Run on Sunday, April 25. This year, 509 participants completed “The Sweetest Half,” 284 more runners than the previous spring. The 13.1-mile course begins in downtown Middlebury, weaves through Weybridge, passes UVM’s Morgan Horse Farm and eventually finishes at Porter Hospital.

Benj Deppman, a lawyer from Cornwall, Vt. and a member of the Maple Run’s race committee, said the group decided a half-marathon was the ideal length because the event is “a few weeks before the Vermont City Marathon,” and is a good warm up for runners who will run the full marathon later this month.

The Maple Run also landed on the same weekend as the Relay for Life festivities, and Deppman believes the two events worked well together.

“A half marathon attracts people of different ages and abilities,” he said.

College and high school students, as well as local parents, ran the race, and each participated for a different reason.

“I wanted to do something for myself,” said Meg Meyer, a mother of nine, who completed the race in one hour and 56 minutes.

Throughout the course of her training, Meyer strengthened her abs, lost ten pounds and believes she was a role model for her children. She said the course was beautiful and the supporters, including seven of her children, were fantastic.

Annie Friedlander ’11 said she ran to “stay in shape and have something to work towards.” A member of Middlebury’s Varsity Swim Team, Friedlander said she wanted to get out of the pool and attempt her first road race. Though it was “harder than expected,” Friedlander enjoyed the challenge.

Others ran in groups for a memorable experience.

Barrett Smith ’13 trained three times a week with “BA Dash,” a group of nine other Middlebury students. Smith, who ran cross-country and track in high school, said the race was not as long as he thought it would be.

“It was awesome, and I can’t wait to do it again next year,” said Smith.

Runners were pleased that portions of the Maple Run’s proceeds were donated to several charitable organization; money was given to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, a national charity, and two local charities, HOPE and the Open Door Clinic. “The Sweetest Half” also benefits local businesses, as the race brings people from across Vermont to Middlebury, noted Keith Wilkerson, the Leadership Gift Officer in the Office of College Advancement and another member of the race committee.

“We have gotten support from the Middlebury Chamber of Commerce and the Better Middlebury Partnership,” said Wilkerson.

Another member of the race committee, Sue Hoxie, is Director of Marketing and Communication for the Addison County Chamber of Commerce.

“The real goal of the Chamber is to create an event that brings people to Middlebury and Addison County,” she said.

Hoxie added that the event was well-timed because it attracted people to Middlebury in between the ski season and the summer, which is typically an off-season period for Vermont tourism.

The College was accommodating as well, said Deppman, as participants were parked in the CFA lot.

Improvements were made to the event this year. For the first time, runners could form two person relay teams, which allowed participants to split the course, so each ran about six miles. Sixty-two of these relay teams registered.

In addition, the committee organized others events to promote the race. On Saturday Apr. 27, the night before the race, a dinner was held at the Middlebury Inn. Kelly Brush ’08, a skier whose crash at the Williams College Winter Carnival in 2006 left her in a wheelchair, was selected as the guest speaker.

Jeff Costello, the manager of the Middlebury Inn, said the turnout for the pre-race dinner last year was low because the event was not advertised. This year 50 people attended, as the event was publicized when runners registered for the race. The Inn also offered special room rates for runners, and complimentary checkouts the following day.

However, the most successful addition to this year’s event was the post-race party held at Porter Hospital.

Two Brothers Tavern catered the celebration, serving soup, pasta salad and according to Smith, “delicious cookies.” The Horsetraders Band also played a myriad of tunes, everything from rock to reggae.

In addition to private parties, the Horsetraders also play at community events like the Middlebury Women’s Hockey Faceoff vs. Breast Cancer Tournament. The band will also perform for thousands of runners at the Vermont City Marathon in Burlington on Sunday May 30.

“Music makes an event like this,” said Rick Marshall, one of the band members, although he noted, “People were too tired to dance.”