Disclaimer: I received a free entry to Mad Marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!
I registered for Mad Marathon last fall and enjoyed the amazing social media images and video of the course throughout the winter. My parents live in NH so the opportunity to run in Vermont and then spend a few days at the lake with my parents was too good to pass. New England is my favorite place and I don’t get to run there enough. All I wanted was cows, green mountains, and covered bridges and this race didn’t disappoint! During the race buildup this winter and spring I even recruited my cousin, sister-in-law, and best running friend/fun size wonder twin to run with me! I was registered for the full but my running posse were all doing the half so I opted to switch to the half at check in so we could enjoy the scenery together. A fabulous run-cation was had by all!
Mad Marathon, half, and relay is held in the small, quintesential New England town of Waitsfield, VT near Sugarbush ski resort. The Sugarbush Inn, only open in winter, opened for race weekend just for the runners and offered an affordable and very comfortable pre-race accommodation only 10 minutes from the start. The Inn also offered an early breakfast buffet, and access to the sports club for showers, pool, yoga, etc, after the race, all included in stay. There’s also several B&Bs and campsites in the area. Chain hotels are available about 30 minutes away in Montpelier or Waterbury. Race check in is on the green outside the Waitsfield Inn and takes less than 5 minutes. A small town race doesn’t offer a race expo like larger races but what it lacks in size it makes up for in uber friendlieness. Race packet included a gender specific race shirt, tote bag, and discount cards for around town. The town was very friendly towards the runners and many restaurants offered pre-race “carbo” specials. We ate a great meal with local beer at the Mad River Barn, a lodge, restaurant, and event space.
Race morning was very easy. We arrived at 6:30 for a 7am race. The town being so small, most businesses allowed race parking and a short walk to the start. Spectators can walk around town and visit a local swimming hole during the race, and my husband and brother-in-law did just that. The race itself actually started early! Half and Full marathoners start together and split about 5 miles into the race, but the courses meet up again at several sections. The course is beautiful but VERY hilly. We’re talking hills you have to hike hills. For the half alone we did over 1300 ft of gain. We walked the uphills, ran the downhills (I ran a speedy 8:30 mile downhill at mile 11!), and did 2:1 intervals in between. Our goal was “fun run!” We enjoyed the scenery and finished in 2:45; my slowest time but completely necessary with the course difficulty. I likened it to the elevation of a trail run without the trail.
The course had water stops at least every 2 miles with water and Gatorade, and friendly volunteers of course! Mile 10.5 even had a beer stop with local Vermont brew! I ran fast after that for sure. The race was quiet but exceptionally pleasant and beautiful. I really loved the miles we ran on packed dirt road; it’s so much softer on the feet. The finish line had lots of spectators and included a hug from the race director for EVERY runner! Cows, beer, hills, covered bridges, and a hug?! Why would you NOT run this race? The post race party included beer, bagels, donuts, apple cider, various fruits, an ice pool for happy feet, and bag check if needed (it’s not). Lululemon Burlington was there with mats to help runners stretch and cool down, and had 20% coupons for those able to make it to the Burlington store.
Post race we showered at the sports club and then met my family at the Ben & Jerry’s factory tour 30 minutes from Waitsfield. $4 for a tour and ice cream; there’s no better post-race treat! We headed back to my parent’s house in NH after that but the Waitsfield area offers plenty to do if you want to make a longer trip in the area including: summer sports activities at the Sugarbush ski area, hiking, the Von Trapp Family Lodge and Brewery (we ate lunch there on our way home – super yummy!), and the Cabot Cheese Cremery. Mad Marathon may be small but it makes for a great run-cation. Highly recommended!
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