Vermont-Maple Leaf Half Marathon and Kotler 5K

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.

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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.

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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.

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Because Kate was still busy selling her famous focaccia at the West River Farmers’ Market that morning we stopped at this adorable bistro in Manchester for coffee before meeting her.

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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.

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We love sitting on the back deck which overlooks a small ravine.

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.

katie treesThe 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.
State: Vermont

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

Women's Running Community

 

 

Try Something New in March -Photography

Continuing with my goal of trying something new for 30 days, I embraced learning more about photography for March. Although I have been taking pictures for years, it has frequently been done with very limited knowledge or technical skill. So I explored more features on my DSLR camera, did some editing, and tried a new app.

These are photos I took on runs. For me, experiencing the sights and sounds I encounter on my runs is equal to the enjoyment of the actual run.

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A slight deviation in my running route allowed for a change from my usual sky and landscape shots.

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This month offered plenty of opportunities to take pictures of ice.

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I thought tagging along with Mike as he cut wood would be a chance to take a different type of photo.

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Isn’t he cute…in a manly, lumberjack sort of way?

My trying a new recipe goal from January carried over to these beignets.

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I convinced Mike to go to Portsmouth with me solely so I could take pictures.

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It was intriguing to take the same photo with different settings.

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I began to feel a tad sketchy as I hung out on the edge of the salt pile waiting to capture this action shot.  But it was fun to be aiming (pun intended) for a different type of composition.

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Our trip ended up with a stop for a drink and appetizers (as I had hoped it would).

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As we left Portsmouth, I was able to capture this parting shot of the landmark steeple.

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A community group that I am involved with has been making pottery bowls for our annual “Empty Bowls” event under the guidance of one of our members who is a talented potter. This was another opportunity to try a different sort of photography.

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I traveled to Vermont to see my amazing niece perform in a circus showcase.

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There were a number of other performers, as well. Their skill far outperformed my photography ability but it was exciting to try to capture them in the midst of their actions.

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This photo that  intended to capture the rapt attention of these small spectators didn’t quite do so. I obviously need to work on my timing!

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March has been filled with maple sugaring here on our small Maine farm.

I had to wear snow shoes to get through the thigh-high snow to tap these trees in early March.

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Amazingly, there is now bare ground in this spot.

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I was enthralled with attempting to capture the steam rising from the evaporator.  Thank goodness for digital photography which allowed me to take picture after picture without rolls of unsuccessful shots on film.IMG_2648

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After 39 gallons of evaporated sap we are rewarded with a single gallon of maple syrup.

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A new waffle recipe proved to be a delectable way to sample the new syrup.

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Of course, a gallery of my photos would not be complete without a few shots of our furry friends.

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Once again, trying something new for 30 days proved to be exciting and enriching.  I learned some new skills and embraced having this as an activity that I was (happily) committed to engage in for the month.  However, these 30 days only gave me a snapshot of the skills I hope to acquire as I continue in my quest to expand my photography abilities.