Records, fun mark 7th Maple Run

MIDDLEBURY — Two course records were set at the seventh annual Middlebury Maple Run this past Sunday as the 700-plus runners complete the 13.1-mile course under sunny skies, a brisk south wind, and temperatures that started in the mid-50s and rose to the mid-70s by midday. While the temperatures were ideal, the brisk headwinds from the south presented some challenge to runners along the exposed Sheep Farm Road in Weybridge and along South Street for miles 9 through 11, before being a tailwind for the last two-miles of the race.

“It’s a tough course,” said Michelle Lilienthal, who set a new course record for women in 1:20.33, besting the previous record of 1:24.08 set in 2012. Lilienthal, of Portland, Maine, is an elite runner who placed third at the 2012 USA Half Marathon Championship with a time of 1:11.45.

Waitsfield resident David Sinclair, 23, who competes professionally as a Nordic skier for Green Mountain Valley School, seemed to enjoy the course, as he breezed across the finish line in 1:13.00, more than a minute faster than the previous record of 1:14.24, also set in 2012. Sinclair averaged 5:35 per mile.

“It’s a beautiful course,” Sinclair said immediately after the finish. “Tough in spots, but a really nice course with rolling hills and beautiful scenery.”

More than 850 registered for the race, dubbed “The Sweetest Half,” with what is a typical 10-15 percent no-show rate at such events. Of those racers who participated, 526 finished the race as individuals and another 172 finished as part of a two-person team.

Alex Hall, 28, of Hanover, N.H., finished second overall in 1:15.17, while Garrett Brann, a 22-year-old Middlebury College student, was third in 1:19.24. Sinclair, Hall and Lilienthal stayed in a tight bunch from the start of the race, with Sinclair saying he drafted off of Hall for much of the race before moving ahead in the final couple of miles.

Race Co-director Sue Hoxie noted the weather couldn’t have been better this year, and the early feedback had been “really positive.” New features this year, she said, included specially crafted wood-carved medals by Maple Landmark, and two live bands mid-way in the race on the Middlebury College campus.

“It was another fabulous race,” said race Co-director Andrea Solomon. “The 100-plus volunteers were just wonderful, the police were great to work with and, of course, the ambulance department’s use of their facility, as well as the hospital’s grounds, were indispensible. It’s really a terrific community event that involves hundreds of people, business sponsors and the entire community as supporters. We really appreciate everyone’s help and enthusiasm.”

Other Addison County runners who finished in the top 30 were: 14th place, Phil Oldham, 47, Lincoln, 1:28.41; 18. Cory Coffey, 38, Vergennes, 1:29.45; 27. Frank Wyer, 22, Middlebury, 1:34.35; and 30. Forrest Carroll, 22, Middlebury, 1:35.49.

In the team relay results, The Wilkersons (Nicole and Keith Wilkerson of Middlebury) ran 6:52 per mile and were overall top finishers and co-ed champs in a time of 1:29.54; first-place male team went to the Fast Walkers (Brett Walker and Josh Walker) in 1:31.41; and first female team was Slow Boat to China, made up of Avery McNiff and July White, at 1:36.54.

Several early responses from the first 40 participants taking a post-race survey hailed the race as “beautiful and very scenic” as well as “very well organized.” Others lauded the “relaxed atmosphere and very friendly volunteers and support staff,” while several comments specifically noted the Girls on the Run water spot as “inspirational and awesome.” Other comments singled out the two bands playing along the course through the Middlebury College campus as being a particularly nice touch and addition, and several praised the pancake breakfast, sausage and maple syrup as a tasty twist on what is typically served post-race.

Summing it up, one person simply wrote: “terrific organization, beautiful course, wonderful ambience.”

“That’s what we like to hear,” Hoxie responded, adding that about $7,000 in race proceeds will go to benefit several local charities. 

MAPLE RUN WINNER David Sinclair (674) and runner-up Alex Hall lead the pack at the start of Sunday’s race. Sinclair set a course record1:13.

Independent photo/Trent Campbell

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