The Run Down - The RunVermont Blog

Running Burlington

by Joe Connelly on January 28, 2013 · 0 comments

in Notes from the Station

Joe Connelly is RunVermont’s Technical Director.  Joe is in charge of just about every aspect of the course, from planning and permitting, to course layout, design, support services, signage & cones, aid stations & fluids, relay exchange zones…you name it, Joe does it. When Joe told me about his goal of running every street in Burlington within the calendar year, I knew there was a good blog post in the making. This is that post.

Reading through our Rookie Finalist posts the one thing that keeps popping up is the goals we runners set for ourselves. Whether it’s to have the experience of running VCM with a group of friends or to use signing up for a race as motivation to stay in shape or whether the goal is time specific like 3:59:59 one big truism is that as runners we like to set goals and chase them down.

For many years as I’ve done thousands of miles up and down the Burlington bikepath, I have said to myself “I need to run different places in Burlington.” I love running on the bikepath, but isn’t variety the spice of life? I moved to Burlington in 1987, and for about 10 years trained 1200-1500 miles/year pretty consistently, but like everyone I had my favorite runs that I tended to do most often. Sometime in the mid 1990s as I was out for one of those training runs I asked myself why not try to run all the streets in Burlington in a calendar year. That seemed like a great way to force myself to see different parts of the city. Since a big part of my job here at RunVermont involves creating race courses and making sure they’re accurate the more I know about the streets, paths, and trails the better I’m able to do my job.

One of the problems with this long unmet goal was that in many years the idea would pop into my head in October or November when I was kind of winding down regular run training before I moved to the ski trails. As many things tend to do, it always became a case of “I need to do that next year”. Last April when we were talking about potential changes to the course for our Half Marathon Unplugged the idea to try to run all the streets got into my brain early enough in the year to make it possible. For fun, and because they’re such a big part of the fun of running in Burlington, I added in all the bikepaths and all major trails. The only running paths off the list were small trails, places where it’s hard to identify any clear path, and private roads. When I looked at my running log for the year I realized that although I had not done a lot of running so far, the runs I had gone on had excellent variety. That seems like a great place to start if you’re trying to accomplish this goal.

To cut to the chase, on December 30 I parked up near Centennial Field and ran East Ave -> Williston Rd -> UVM -> Colchester Ave, plus all the dead end streets in that area, and that put a wrap on this goal. Along the way I saw a lot of parts of Burlington that I don’t get to very often and ran some streets that I didn’t even know existed. Since this city isn’t laid out in a grid nearly anywhere I ran a lot of streets twice, in order to get in other streets nearby, but that only adds to the fun when you get to go back to an area to run the streets you missed the first time around.

After every run, Joe highlighted his route on these maps.


A new favorite is Hoover St. Who knew this gem existed? Cliff St is steep. Depot St is steep. Hoover St may beat both of them! Cliff rises 179′ in 4/10 of a mile, or 101′ for the top 1/4 mile of Cliff. Depot rises 98′ in just under 1/4 mile. Hoover St rises only 45′ (according to MapMyRun), but does so in only 1/8 of a mile. The kicker is that the first block on Hoover is not that much of a climb, so over 3/4 of the total elevation gain on Hoover is in the last .07 miles. Given my current level of fitness there were many streets I wanted to start walking on, Hoover tops the list. But once you get to the top and turn around the payoff is well worth the effort!

However many miles it was, my biggest conclusion is that Burlington has about anything you’d want as a runner. If you want flats, hit the bikepath or Pine St or North Ave. If you want hills start at the lake and run east, or start at UVM and run west. Or start in Winooski and run up to UVM. If you want to run trails Ethan Allen Park, Burlington HS, and Centennial Woods will do the job. If you want trails and you want solitude head down to the Intervale or the Ethan Allen Homestead.

And if you want people to look at you a little funny while you’re doing intervals, turn onto a dead end street and sprint to the end and back. Burlington has a lot of dead end streets!

So what’s your running goal for 2013? Are you thinking outside the box?

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