Considering that my sister, Kate, lives in Vermont and that it is an easy three hour drive from our home in Maine, it was surprising that we didn’t run a race in Vermont until three years into our quest. However, we eventually chose the Kotler 5K which is part of the Maple Leaf Half Marathon event. Running in Vermont gave us the chance to visit with Kate at her spacious country home in the quiet village of Windham.
Because her home is just a few doors down from the town church which has the distinction of being the church situated at the highest elevation in Vermont, running from her home offers a wicked hill workout.
The view from her home across to the mountains is gorgeous.
On the day of the race, we made the scenic half hour drive to Manchester, where the race took place. It is a terrific Vermont town that offers a multitude of restaurants and shops in a stunning valley setting surrounded by the dramatic Green Mountains
We arrived at the Dana Thompson Recreational Park in Manchester where the race began and enjoyed the lovely amenity of ample on-site parking. As we waited to begin the race, a young trumpeter played the national anthem which provided a truly moving send-off. Our 5K course went through the town and down pleasant residential side roads. At one point, a string trio serenaded us at the side of the road. Near the end of the course we ran on a gravel path through the woods. As we approached a small wooden bridge we could hear the familiar notes of “Anchors Away” wafting towards us. Crossing the bridge, we spotted the trumpeter from the start tucked down beside the stream It was such a fun surprise at the end of our course. We crossed the finish line hand-in-hand back at the recreational park and were surprised to be presented with this gorgeous pressed-glass medal that was crafted by a local artisan.
We hadn’t anticipated a medal for completing a 5K and we certainly had not expected the bonus of this exquisite craftsmanship. At the awards ceremony, winners received slate squares and age group winners were given wooden cutting boards. (I was 4th in my group…so close!)
As we waited for the half marathon runners to come in we enjoyed an extensive spread of yummy food including cheddar cheese, fruit, made-to-order sandwiches, bagels and assorted spreads, and more. It was truly a scrumptious after-race “buffet”. Instead of a t-shirt we received a spiffy nylon backpack that we have since used multiple times. We decided to treat ourselves to matching hats, as well.
We were able to make it back to Londonderry to the farmers’ market before it was over. It’s a superb market situated along the West River offering a multitude of food and craft vendors. Live music and a convivial vibe create a fun and festive atmosphere.
When we met Kate, we couldn’t stop exclaiming over how much we had enjoyed our race. The course, swag, and refreshments were awesome. It is one of our favorite races and we would highly recommend it. The chance to spend the weekend with Kate was a huge added bonus. It is possible for others to enjoy that perk, as well, because Kate is now offering rooms through Airbnb at Windham Maples. Her guests have raved about their stays and although we may be a tad bit biased, we wholeheartedly agree.
If you are a runner, we would encourage you to consider adding the 38th Maple Leaf Half Marathon or Kotler 5K to your race calendar on Saturday, September 10, 2016. This year the race is partnering with Make-A Wish. As of this writing, the half marathon registration is a very reasonable $55.00 and the 5K is $25.
Whether or not running a race is on your calendar, if you are looking for a wonderful Vermont get-away, we’d suggest you consider a trip to Windham Maples.
The foliage in the fall is spectacular. In the winter there are major ski areas close by as well as lovely quiet cross country ski trails just around the corner from Kate’s home. Venturing to Vermont in the late winter and spring offers an opportunity to experience maple sugaring. Kate’s trees are tapped by a local sugarer. And of course, summer in Vermont is fabulous and will allow you to add in a trip to the West River Farmer’s Market, as well. No matter when or why you go, it’s sure to be a treat.
Date Run: 9/7/13
Quest Race #: 14
The Bottom Line: If you are looking for a terrific fall half marathon or 5K or even just a lovely destination for a weekend trip, we highly recommend venturing to Vermont. The race was well organized, offered wonderful perks, and was held in a beautiful location. If you want to be guaranteed top-notch hospitality, I can also personally recommend staying at Windham Maples. A post-race trip into Manchester followed by a visit to the West River Farmers’Market will round out your weekend experience