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Course Update: New Waterfront Park Layout, Flooding Contingencies

by leandre on May 6, 2011 · 27 comments

in News,Notes from the Station

**This post has been updated to address questions about course certification. Please read entire post. **

If you’ve had the opportunity to flip through your Runner and Guest Handbook, perhaps you’ve noticed that we made some modifications to the course for the 2011 KeyBank Vermont City Marathon. Specifically, we modified the course route in Waterfront Park.  For the very first time the course will finish by running down the middle of the lawn in the south end of the Park.  The actual Finish Line itself will be just a few hundred feet from the ECHO Lake Aquarium traffic circle.

In the Finish Area runners will be greeted with medals, blankets, water, a quick snack and medical services if needed.  After some decompression time, runners will exit the Finish corral and head for the new Reunion Zone where to meet friends and family.  Our planning team, including a strong group of local runners, contributed to the plan for the location of other services in the Park. 

You’ll find all the necessary amenities, including the Runners Food Tent, Massage Tent, Baggage Tent and all of your favorite vendors (like Ben & Jerry’s & Michelob Light) in the heart of Waterfront Park.  Some of the other folks who’ll be there to make your day include VT Maple Sugar Foundation, Stonyfield Farms, VT Pure/Crystal Rock, the ever popular Kettle Korn and Scooter’s Pretzels.   We’ve added lots of directional signage, additional bleacher seating and Park Ambassador volunteers to help find your way around Waterfront Park.

In order to make this all happen in Waterfront Park, we made two other minor modifications on the course.  The first modification is that you will run about 100’ farther on the Beltline.  The second modification is a shift to the left fork of the driveway in Leddy Park, just after mile 18.  And that’s all there is to it!

Recent Developments…

As some of you may have heard (or witnessed first hand),  Lake Champlain is at a record level with flooding impacting the entire waterfront community.  At this time, we believe the impacts on our marathon course will be negligible.  We’re working closely with Burlington Parks and Recreation to monitor the course conditions all along the Burlington Bikepath and we know they’ll be right there beside us if we need to make adjustments.   RunVermont has a contingency plan in place that addresses a number of different emergencies, including waterfront flooding.   We can express, with confidence, that we will provide a great race even if a “worst case scenario” were to present itself.

Updated 5/9/2011: We have rec’d several calls and emails at headquarters regarding the certification of the 2011 marathon course should we need to alter the course due to flooding. Here’s what you need to know:

Barring any raceday emergencies that cause us to re-route on the fly, KBVCM will be held on a certified course that is recognized by USATF, IAAF, Boston, etc. In case the flooding persists we are working on alternative routes. Any alternatives will be measured and mapped to the USATF standards and we’ll have followed the necessary guidelines to make sure we are certified. We can’t guarantee we’ll race on the course as currently shown in our Handbook and on file with USATF, but we can guarantee that whatever we race on will meet the standards when the horn sounds at 8:03am on the 29th.

A Google search will show you numerous examples of races that had to re-route after the race started or got the course wrong. Race day emergencies and errors in course setup are a completely different thing. As long as a course that had to be altered is proven longer than 26 miles 385 yards by a post-race certification USATF, Boston, etc will recognize the times run as “marathon” times. Boston even usually allows extra time for runners who just miss their standards on a course known to be long. We have an extensive list of measured alternatives should something occur on race day that requires a re-route after the start.

{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Carol Vallett May 6, 2011 at 10:05 am

Sounds like some good changes. Here is another suggestion for the reunion zone: post high signs with letters of the alphabet so runners and their fans can determine a location to meet ahead of time. Many large races do this, check the Indianapolis Mini-Marathon for an example. Makes finding your runner or friends sooooo much easier and would make the finish less chaotic.

2 Stephen Sweet May 6, 2011 at 10:13 am

Great suggestion, Carol! I agree! My friend was injured during the race last year, and it took literally an hour for our whole group to find one another in order to proceed to the ER.

leandre 3 leandre May 6, 2011 at 10:16 am

Hi Carol! You read our minds; we’re ordered alphabetical signs; they’ll be posted on high on PVC along the train fence.

4 Ryan May 6, 2011 at 10:19 am

Will detouring the course due to flooding affect the course certification?

5 Holly May 6, 2011 at 11:13 am

Thanks for the updates!

6 Ivan May 6, 2011 at 11:30 am

In the former finish configuration, once would not see the finish line before the last 200m and we had to make a kind of u-turn in muddy terrain. I think the new finish along a straight line will make it easier for the runners to plan the last effort. It seems to be a good decision.

7 Brad Minor May 6, 2011 at 11:37 am

As of this morning, the only sections of the bikepath that was not open and clear were a small stretch (20 ft) near Oakledge and the part by the wastewater treatment center. Neither seemed to require significant modifications even if the race were today. Hopefully we’ll get some dry weather over the next few weeks!

Joe Connelly 8 Joe Connelly May 6, 2011 at 12:54 pm

Hi Ryan-

We were due for a complete recertification of the course for the 2012 race. USATF Certification is good for 10 years then you need to do it again. With the changes at the finish area we decided to go through the process this year instead of next year. Fortunately I just finished the process mid-April before the lake level came up.

Just in case, we are working on course contingencies. As Brad Minor points out, the areas of concern at this time are short sections of the course. All have logical detours that stick to the basic configuration of the course. We’re not planning on doing anything crazy with the course like going outside Burlington or doing multiple loops to avoid a certain area. We are lucky that miles 4-8 on the highway are an out-and-back. If an emergency detour causes us to gain or lose distance we can always adjust the turn-around point.

For those of us who have been in Vermont awhile, the phrase “if you don’t like the weather wait 5 minutes” is a truism. With 23 days to the race, a lot can change. We will hope for favorable weather patterns and plan for unfavorable patterns. Bottom line, KBVCM will race on a certified course.

Joe Connelly
RunVermont Technical Coordinator

9 MARK J.ANDERSON May 6, 2011 at 1:04 pm

thanks for the change at the finish. the thing i love most is the fact that for the last part of the course we will be able to see the finish line. I think that is a big plus. the only question i have is will there still be enough grass around the finish when i colapse from exhaustion.? (im laughing but im not kidding)

10 MARK J.ANDERSON May 6, 2011 at 1:19 pm

oh also, i think its dangerous to put the beer tent BEFORE the finish line. (not as many finishers maybe)
ha ha see you all there.
mark

11 Bill Scarlett May 6, 2011 at 1:59 pm

I love the Burlington marathon and can’t wait to come back this year. My one tiny criticism would be that the finish area is usually really crowded and it has been hard to get out of the finishing area if you are hot, tired and a bit disoriented. It looks like the new finish is much more of a straight line and I think that will be great for those of us that want to get away from the crowd a bit.

12 Dan Ratner May 6, 2011 at 4:04 pm

Let us know how many dollars we have to carry to buy a beer on the way by!

13 donna May 6, 2011 at 7:47 pm

love the new finish line- but will miss not being able to see the runners at the curve where the key bank , beer and merchandise tents will be- that was always a great spot to cheer on runner,s but with tents there, there will be less room can the tents be moved back a little?

14 RunningMama May 6, 2011 at 10:35 pm

With the extra 100′ on the beltline, does that change the handoff for the 2-person relay?

15 rebecca tatel May 6, 2011 at 10:53 pm

i suggest asking for the restareas on 89 be open early in the morning. we always stop there and there are lots of people peeing in the grass. i bet everyone would be grateful to use toliets.

leandre 16 Leandre May 7, 2011 at 9:23 am

Thanks for your feedback, everyone!
@Bill: We agree that the finish corral has been crowded in the past, and our hope is that by spreading key services out a bit, runners will have they space they need to relax before being greeted by family, friends and spectators.
@Donna: The tents will not be flush with the course so you will still have access to great spectator viewing between the tents and the course.
@RunningMama: Yes. The hand off will take place on the grass just below the shelter on the hill in Oakledge, so slightly to the south of where it was the past two years. This means that the exchange is just shy of the exact halfway point of the race.
@Rebecca: We’re happy to inquire about oping the rest-stops early. Four VT rest stops were closed in 2009 due to budget cuts; hours of operation for those that remained open were also affected for the same reason.

17 BDubs May 8, 2011 at 5:22 pm

Why are the port-a-potties so far from the finish line!!!?!

leandre 18 Leandre May 8, 2011 at 8:29 pm

@BDubs: The map might be a little deceiving. You’ll reach them very soon after exiting the finish chute (keep an eye out right after the reunion zone, on the right). They are no further than they have been in the past, and we hope they’ll be more accessible thanks to the way we organized services within the park.

19 Maureen May 9, 2011 at 9:49 am

A race team that cares about runners, spectators, port-a-potties and beer! Love KeyBank VCM!

20 Kerri May 9, 2011 at 3:38 pm

Do these changes mean the second leg is longer than 5.8 miles?

Joe Connelly 21 Joe Connelly May 9, 2011 at 3:42 pm

Slight correction to Leandre’s response from 5/7 9:23am… The 2-Person Exchange will occur immediately after the halfway mat. The first leg runner will cross the halfway mat and move to the left into the exchange zone. The Exchange Zone is about 100 yards south of where it was last year.

These notes are based on the assumption of no changes to the certified course. If we have to change the course due to prolonged flooding or course surfaces that are unsafe it’s possible the 2-Person Exchange Zone will be moved, or it’s possible one of the legs will become longer than half marathon and one will become shorter. We’ll carefully consider all outcomes before any decisions are made.

22 Noah May 9, 2011 at 3:57 pm

Is it possible to have a sign at the end of the water table saying that this is the end of th water table
It would make it easier to know I don’t have to jump into the “line” only to get stopped by someone who is drinking water

Thanks
Noah

leandre 23 Leandre May 9, 2011 at 7:24 pm

Noah: I am not sure I understand what you mean or how the sign might help. Can you say more about your concern?

24 Lisa May 9, 2011 at 7:44 pm

Is there any special procedure as to how to meet your two person relay team member at the finish line? It would stink if it took 15 minutes to hug your partner and celebrate.

leandre 25 Leandre May 9, 2011 at 8:05 pm

Lisa: If, by ‘finish line’, you are referring to the exchange zone in Oakledge (the ‘finish line’ for the first leg), then the procedure is to look for your team member in the section that corresponds with your bib number. If you are referring to the finish line at 26.2 miles, we recommend using the reunion zone. That is located along the railway fence on the way to the north end of the park. The reunion zone is segmented alphabetically, and your second leg runner can plan to meet you in that area after they exit the finish chute.

26 Lisa May 9, 2011 at 8:37 pm

@Leandre: I meant the finish line at Waterfront Park. I have never run this race before, but my friend told me that it took her 15 minutes last year to find her teammate after she finished and she couldn’t even see her run across the finish line. She felt it was very chaotic and anti-climatic. It would be a neat idea if there was a special viewing and reunion section to watch/greet relay teammates at the finish line. Just a suggestions on top of the million you already get per day.

Keep up all the good work you have been doing to make this such a successful and fun event:) So many people appreciate it, you can’t even imagine!

leandre 27 leandre May 9, 2011 at 8:56 pm

@Lisa: Thanks for the suggestion! Last year’s finish line was indeed chaotic. We’re very hopeful that the changes we put in to place this year will make it such that there is less congestion at the finish line. Unfortunately, the space at Waterfront Park is somewhat limited and we can only accommodate so many people right AT the finish line. If I were looking to cheer someone on near the Finish, I would do it from the KeyDome…it isn’t ON the finish line, but pretty close and a great place to take a great pic with the water as a backdrop. After yelling one last cheer before your partner heads for the line, you can start making your way to the reunion zone. Your partner should make it out of the chute within a few minutes (depending on how long he/she chooses to relax away from the crowds) and meet you at whatever alphabet sign you agreed on before hand. Then you can walk together to the north end of the park to indulge in some good post-race food, including Ben & Jerry’s!

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