Scenes from the bike along the race course in South Hero, VT
One positive aspect about being involved with several different sports is that if you injure yourself doing one, you can probably do another! And since I’m still recovering from my upper leg running injury (shin splint is pretty much better!), cycling and swimming are my go-to sports right now! When Jess asked us to be the lead bikes at the Green Mountain Marathon a month or so ago, we thought that would be nice. This marathon wasn’t a part of our race plan for the year so I thought what a perfect opportunity to do some volunteering for the GMAA. So today Scott and I rode about 3 hours and probably close to 30 miles pacing the lead runners who were very fast. But even on mountain bikes, 9 miles an hour on dirt roads is pretty laid back. The great thing was we got to enjoy the gorgeous scenery along Lake Champlain and see up close the fastest runners in the marathon. Very cool and very inspiring!
Stefan & Scott on bikes at the race start
While today turned out to be a very fun and positive experience for us, yesterday I was not too thrilled about doing this. It was cold, windy and rainy on Saturday and Sunday’s forecast was looking a bit similar. After doing a very rainy century ride last August and almost getting hypothermia, I was a bit worried about the cold, wind and possible rain for today. But luckily it didn’t rain and turned out to be a decent, brisk autumn day. It was about 50F degrees when we arrived at 7:30am in South Hero, VT. But with the wind it felt 10 degrees colder! I wore a base layer, an old fleece biking jersey, winter running jacket and a bike vest with good wind protection. I had some warm bike tights over my bike shorts. I even found an old pair of winter biking gloves in our basement. And this all worked out well! I looked like the Michelin Man out there, but I was warm!
For the first couple miles we rode with an old bike racing friend, Stefan who was leading for the half marathon. It was great to see him after all these years! When Binney pulled away from the lead pack after a few miles, Scott stayed with him. Stefan stayed with the next runner and I led another group of lead runners. I was so happy to notice that one of these guys was our ultra running friend, Bob who recently won a 100 miler! (yes, that’s not a typo ). I stayed with Bob who pulled away from a few guys and chatted a bit with him. A strong GMAA runner caught up to us and I biked with them to the turn around at 13 miles. I have never done this sort of thing on a bike and wasn’t sure if I was helping or being a nuisance. I had trouble setting a good pace and was always looking over my shoulder. (having a mirror on the bike would have been super helpful today!!)
Views of Lake Champlain along the race course. I took a few photos from the bike.
This marathon is an out-and-back race, so after the turnaround I decided to catch up to the top 4 or 5 guys and see how they were doing and give Bob some peace and quiet . The way back had a very good head wind and I knew this was not going to be easy for any of the runners! I eventually ended up riding in front of the second place runner for a few miles. At about mile 17 or 18 I was very surprised to see that the next 2 guys were catching up! “This is getting interesting” I thought! And then a very strong runner named Stephen caught up to the new second place runner. He was running a very smart race! On the way out he was probably somewhere between 6th and 8th place I’m guessing. But on the way back he was slowly moving up in place! At about mile 22 he was a strong second place. A bit before mile 25 we saw Binney the first place runner! I knew it was him because I could see Scott pacing him! I got very excited because Stephen was still looking strong! I kept telling him that he could totally catch him. I could see that Binney looked like he was struggling a bit. Stephen was still bridging the gap! I didn’t want to yell too loudly for Stephen and discourage Binney so I kept giving Stephen the “thumbs up” as we got within hearing range. Stephen caught Binney with about a half mile to go (maybe more or maybe less). It was very exciting! Stephen was running strong to the end and won the marathon! I was so happy for him! After he finished he thanked me, gave me a hug and called me his guiding light! Wow, that really made the whole day for me! And it was also a huge inspiration watching someone dig deep, catch the leader and ultimately win the race! What a day! Congrats to you Stephen! I hope we meet again!
Bob and Scott with less than 2 miles to the finish!
Overall, this is super event! Jess Cover, an accomplished marathon runner and coach organized this race and did an amazing job! It’s a lovely time of year with the beautiful fall foliage and the scenery along Lake Champlain is a must-see! Plus it’s a very fun local event where you get to see lots of friendly faces! I highly recommend putting this event on your calendar for next year. This year Jess added the half marathon which is a perfect training option for those doing a marathon or ultra run in November! So if you are looking for that perfect fall marathon or half marathon for next October, consider the Green Mountain Marathon!
I was snapping photos on my bike and hoping for the best!