Written by: Joe Connelly
As relay teams begin to get their runners registered, here in the RunVermont office we get a lot of phone calls and emails from runners wondering which section they should do. The standard question is, “which section is the best one?” In my opinion they are all good, but for different reasons. From the “technical Department,” here are my thoughts on the 3-5 Person Relay Legs:
- 1st leg:~3.1 miles. Flat to start on lower Pearl St then into a very gradual climb on Pearl and Willard. So many runners around you the climb doesn’t feel like anything. Big downhill on Beech St, but very crowded running conditions. Big downhill on Main St. Church St is a lot of fun. Finishes on Pearl. Overall it’s a real short leg that is over quickly with a lot of the race still to go. If you like hanging around watching the race that can be a good thing. Wind is generally not an issue because there are so many runners around you.
- 2nd leg: ~5.6 miles. Flat to start on Park St, then a long downhill entering the highway. After you get to the North Ave exit it gets what I’d call rolling. No big hills the northern part of the Beltline but not a lot of flats either. Kind of “winding” too. It’s only about 1.25 miles to the turnaround after you get past the exit. Long climb (~3/4 of a mile) out of the Beltline and the last 1/3 of a mile is flat back on Park St. Can be windy but lots of runners to draft off at this point of the race. The climb out of the Beltline is, in my opinion, harder than the one on Battery St at mile 15, because it lasts so long. It’s not too bad if you’re just “running” VCM, but if you’re racing it’s tough. Leg 2 can be a lot of fun because you get to see other runners on the out and back, plus the novelty of running on the highway.
- 3rd leg: ~6.4 mile The first 2.5+ miles are a breeze-Church St then down Main St and Pine St. The neighborhoods off Flynn Ave make for easy running. Entering South Cove is a longish but easy climb and then a nice downhill with a look at Lake Champlain. Short sharp climb back to Oakledge Park that surprises a lot of people. The next 2.5 miles along the bikepath is easy. Then of course it finishes up Battery St. Because that climb is right at the end of the leg, I don’t think it’s too bad even if you don’t like hills. Taiko drummers for inspiration too. Since it starts and finishes essentially the same place any wind cancels itself out for “in your face” vs “at your back”.
- 4th leg: ~5.5 miles. Overall pretty flat from Battery Park out to the Flynn School. Slight down/up/down at BHS. Otherwise only real subtle ups and downs. With a south wind this is a fast leg.
- 5th leg: ~5.6 miles. Flattest leg for sure, in fact it’s a net downhill of about 100’. Start at the Flynn School. Big downhill less than a mile into this leg at the end of North Ave down to the bikepath. Bikepath is pretty much dead flat. With a north wind this is a fast leg.
For those of you running the 2-Person Relay, go by what is written above for the first 2 legs and then stop at “short sharp climb back to Oakledge Park” and that will describe the first half of VCM. Here is my take on the 2 halfs of the 2-Person Relay as recently emailed in response to a runner’s inquiry:
- Both halfs of VCM have some good highlights. I like the 2nd half a lot because I like running on the bikepath, plus it’s more open running, less crowded. The 1st half hits Church St twice which is pretty awesome, plus it’s a net downhill which can lead to fast times, but the first 4-5-6 miles can be crowded. That’s part of the charm in a race this size, but still something to deal with.
Whichever leg you choose we hope you’ll have a fast race and enjoy the show! Don’t forget, if you think you have an especially speedy relay team, you can apply for entry in to the preferred corral.