The Middlebury Maple Run was extra sweet this year, with students and local residents of all age groups coming out this past Sunday, Nov. 5. to crowd the starting line to the run, dubbed “Vermont’s Sweetest Half Marathon & Relay.”
Middlebury students Samuel Robertson ’26 came in first and Sam Merriam ’26 in second place in the men’s category of the half-marathon event, with times of 1:17:29 and 1:17:48, respectively. Alex Hollander ’26 came in second place behind Rutland, Vt. resident Meredith Steinmetz in the women’s category with a time of 1:34:57.
The half-marathon course started and ended outside of Porter Medical Center. Participants ran on a combination of paved, gravel and trail dirt surfaces, beginning on South Street before making their way along the 13.1 mile course on Weybridge Street, Morgan Horse Farm Road, Sheep Farm Road and South St. Extension. Parts of the course also passed through Middlebury’s campus and the Trail Around Middlebury.
Finishers were treated to a complimentary post-race breakfast. and winners were rewarded with bottles of Vermont-made maple syrup. The event also included a two-person relay race option, with each runner completing half of the 13.1-mile course, and a three-mile fun run event. With 450 runners registered by race day and a few dozen more registering the morning of, the Maple Run drew in over two and a half times last year’s 175 runners, Angelo Lynn, editor and publisher of the Addison Independent and one of the organizers of the race told The Campus by email.
The Maple Run was the longest race Robertson has ever completed. A member of his high school’s track and cross country teams, Robertson found a good group of runners with whom to train after coming to Middlebury, including Merriam, he told The Campus.
Merriam considered running the Vermont City Marathon in Burlington last spring, which piqued his and Robertson’s interest in training for a marathon together. The two used the Maple Run as a training step toward their ultimate goal of the Vermont City Marathon this spring.
“I knew we would be among the faster people but I didn't know what time I was going to run, I was really pleasantly surprised by the time,” Robertson said. “I was quite ecstatic to see that [Merriam] came in right behind me. We had both been shooting for a sub 1:21 because that’s a qualifying time for a New York marathon, so to run the 1:17 was really satisfying.”
The Maple Run was Hollander’s second half marathon, her first being this past summer in her home state of New Jersey. Her father, Jason Hollander, came in third in the race with a time of 1:18:17, landing both father and daughter in the top three finishers for their respective categories.
Hollander described seeing her friends both in the race with her and from the sidelines cheering her on, witnessing the scenic Vermont views and being in the race with her father as highlights of the experience.
Dani Ortiz ’25.5 and Caroline Jaffe ’26 participated as teammates in the relay event. Ortiz, who ran the half-marathon on her own last year, ran the first seven miles of the course this year before handing off to Jaffe to run the second part.
“Distance was challenging in its own way each year,” Ortiz said. “But the runners definitely all support each other as we all try to reach our personal goals.”
Camilla Salwen ’25.5 decided to run the Maple Run with her friend Lindy Kessler ’25.5 this summer, preparing through regular runs of around three miles and one longer run per week.
“Because it was literally in Middlebury, there were so many people I knew running it which I was a little intimidated by at first, but it was actually really fun on race day to see everyone and to have random people that I ran into to run with,” Salwen told The Campus.
Salwen added that the second part of the race was a six mile out-and-back on South Street Extension, which made it fun to see other runners in both directions.
“You see people who aren’t running anywhere close to your speed passing you and you get to cheer for them,” she said.
According to Robertson, the most challenging part of the course was one particularly steep hill on the Class of 1997 trail on the TAM. The hills in the Maple Run’s course were steeper than any other race he had previously run, Robertson said. Salwen and Hollander agreed, citing the hill on South Street in the final mile of the race as particularly challenging.
Still, Robertson said he had a great experience running the race. “A couple of our friends paced us down Sheep Farm Road and through campus and that felt so good and satisfying,” he said. “Running is so much easier when you can share the load with other people and they were doing an excellent job pacing and so that really gave us the confidence to finish the race.”
This year’s Maple Run was organized by the Addison Independent newspaper. The race was created by a group of local runners in 2009, originally named for its occurrence at the end of the maple sugaring season in the spring, according to Lynn.
The runners then formed a nonprofit organization with a board of trustees to put on the race each year, of which Lynn was a part. As the race’s popularity grew, the board passed on the planning responsibilities to the Addison County Chamber of Commerce, who put on the race annually until the Covid-19 forced it to come to a halt in 2020 and 2021. The Addison Independent stepped in to bring the race back in 2022.
Organizing the run each year requires months of planning in advance to manage registrations, figure out lodging and parking for runners, and plan for the closure of parts of Route 30 and Route 125 on race day, Lynn wrote. He added that they aim to make the mile markings on the course as accurate as possible so that the top runners can pace themselves properly.
The organizers also had to find about two dozen volunteers to hand out beverages and stand at crosswalks at various points throughout the race. They also enlisted help from the Addison County Sheriff’s Department and Middlebury Police Department to control traffic, as well as situating medical professionals at five aid stations along the course in the case of an emergency.
All race finishers received wooden medals from Middlebury-based Maple Landmark Woodcraft, Lynn added. The race also provided maple leaf-shaped jars filled with maple syrup from Breadloaf View Farm in Cornwall, Vt. to the first, second and third place finishers in each category. The jars were etched with the 2023 Maple Run logo.
For Lynn, the preparation required for organizing putting on the run was worth it.
“It puts the town on the map for hosting a major run,” he wrote. “Events like these, as well as the TAM Trek, and Vermont Sun’s summer triathlons and half marathon at Lake Dunmore, all attract young families to the area and set a model of a community that embraces a healthy outdoor lifestyle.”
Editor’s Note: Senior Local Editor Julia Pepper ’24 contributed reporting to this article.
Madeleine Kaptein '25.5 (she/her) is a local editor and previously served as a copy editor.
A Comparative Literature major and German minor, Madeleine enjoys reading, biking and hanging out with her cats. She is also an editor for Clover Magazine.