Let’s look behind the curtain at the production of a marathon event and see what it takes to provide a race for a few thousand people.
First, a few numbers: how about 1,700 volunteers – all ages, shapes, skills and outlooks. Food – 800 pizzas, 4,500 bananas, 6,000 oranges, 3,000 bagels. Water – 800 5 gallon jugs, 300 cases of ½ liter bottles, 150,000 cups, Portolets – way too many to clean and never enough in the right place at the right time. Months in the planning cycle – 15, yep, we’re already working on next year 3 months before this year’s race is completed.
Next, the variables. Weather, volunteers, public projects & infrastructure projects, weather, volunteers, fires – some hundreds of miles away, floods, new events in the marketplace, changes in runner preferences, technology “improvements” (you know, the kind that are going to make your life easier, faster and more efficient, but never seem to deliver), Chinese New Year (impacts a lot of medal orders), textile stocks, weather, volunteers, USATF calendar, Olympic Trials schedule, insurance programs, terrorists, the latest Tweet, airline prices, gas prices, asphalt availability, and oh, did I mention weather and volunteers?
Fortunately, we have a TON of support from many professional, dedicated public servants. The Police and Fire Depts, Public Works, Water Dept, Parks and Recreation are at the core of the team. Then we move on to the VT State Police, VT Information Ctr, ICE, TSA and Homeland Security to assist with the Security program. Another layer of care and protection are provided by an unbelievable Medical Team, and with a total bias fully acknowledged – we've got the best Medical Team in the running industry. Over 100 credentialed volunteers; EMTs, LPNs, RNs, paramedics, MDs of all specializations, athletic trainers and med schoolers. The University of Vermont Medical Center is a tremendous supporter of all that is provided by our Medical Team – and this group is standing by waiting to provide whatever care might be needed.
And we can’t forget our neighbors. Nothing happens with a race in a municipal setting without the consent, acceptance or participation of the host residential community. When traveling around a course of 26.2 miles, chances are you’re going to interact with a few local residents. They can have a tremendous impact on your experience. Many get into it and become a part of the event. We’re blessed to have the Official Unofficial Band of the People’s United Bank Vermont City Marathon – Sciatica! These guys are a legend in their own minds, I mean, own time. And they’re a gas, everybody loves them. Then there are the unofficial aid stations that provide everything from watermelon, lemonade, ice pops, beer (can you say Hash House Harriers?), hoses and sprinklers to who knows what all is out there. I’m certain this year will see a CBD stand somewhere. Least forgettable of all are the many colorful characters that come out to play on race day. With our race we’re particularly fond of the “gals” from the House of LeMay –cheerleaders in drag, what could be better? Invariably, you’ll come across some Caped Crusaders, Superman and Wonder Woman, someone in a big foam sombrero, the inevitable banana suit, a T Rex or two, you get the picture.
Finally, there’s you, the runners. With all your expectations, preparations, excitations, sleepless nights, long months of training, some blisters, strains and sprains, new shoes, old shoes, body glide, Vaseline, or lack thereof. Somehow it all comes together, and we gather at the Start Line on Race Day. Nerves, anxiety, upside down stomachs, and whatever other tics are on the pre-race menu, they’re all soon forgotten when the horns signal the moment to run. By this time, the crews that stock the aid stations have been hard at work since about 1am. They’ll grab a quick cat nap and start the clean-up process by the time the last runner has hit mile 7. Over the course of the next 4-6 hours, the 1,700 volunteers will do their level best to meet your every need. And some of the volunteers have been serving you and your fellow runners since 1989. Don’t forget to show them a little love…. I promise you they will return it with dividends. And as you put your feet up to relax after navigating the streets of Burlington, we’ll be celebrating your achievement with you.