A slight drizzle and brisk 30-degree April air could not move the runners of RunVermont’s Half Marathon Unplugged out of their deep focus. One could see the nerves and anxiety slowly subside as Director of Race Operations, Joe Connelly, called the 638 runners up to the starting line. The ensemble of half-marathoners moved as one—with their family and friends getting one last look before they embarked on the 13.1 mile journey. With only minutes to go, the runners got one last stretch in, adjusted their race-wear, and set their watches. Joe counted them down: five, four, three, two, one, finishing with a screeching horn alerting the crowd it was time to start moving towards Switchback Brewing.
The runners made their way up Colchester Point Road—hurdling over the horizon in one cohesive pack. The small crowd that stayed around waited in anticipation to see who would be the first leader of the group. It didn’t take long, as Kevin Jeter came pacing over the hill back towards the start line. A crowded roar of, “Kevin!” erupted as he pulled away from the pack— leaving the 637 runners to play catch up for the next 11 miles.
Following Jeter was a group of three male runners lead by Alex Gordon, all outfitted in bright pink T-shirts. The three kept great pace as they pulled away from the main group of runners, creating significant separation right out of the gate
It wasn’t until the 9 mile mark that the race began to take shape. Sitting at the Untapped station nestled at the bottom of One Main Street adjacent to the Burlington bike path, the staff and volunteers stood in shock as Kevin Jeter was the lone runner within eyesight. Not even exhausted, Kevin was able to tell us, with a smile, he didn’t need any Untapped race fuel.
Jeter kept the steady pace up for the remaining four miles, charging towards the finish line. From the start, the race seemed to be Jeter’s to lose. The race began with the crowd cheering his name has he hurled passed them and ended 1:18:15 later with a much larger crowd cheering that same name. Behind him, no one in sight. It would be over five minutes until anyone else would cross the finish line.
Alex Gordon came rolling in right after Jeter—leaving his pinked out pack in the cold. Following Gordon was Nick Cruickshank, Jason Baer, and Ben Bjornson in third, fourth, and fifth, respectively. At 1:25:19 we had our first female finisher, Lydia Gill. Sounding off back at Colchester Point Road was Lydia as she led the massive collection of runners. With rooted focus, Gill elevated her stride and created the separation needed to finish sixth overall and first female.
The second wave saw a similar displacement of finishers. Ian Mccallum-Cook took the the reigns of the second batch of runners, finishing almost five minutes ahead of the next fastest half-marathoner at 1:15:57. Andy Klem and Michael Martin followed suit in second and third, respectively. The battle for fifth and sixth place became interesting as both Katie White and Arthur Foelsche could be seen together in the final stretch. Fighting the cold and Katie’s pace, Arthur was able to pull ahead in the final 1000 feet to finish 12 seconds ahead of Katie.
The rest of the runners would stride in for the next hour or so–all being welcomed by their family, friends, and loved ones along with the satiable aroma of The Sausage Shack and the cheerful yells of, “Welcome to Moe’s!” One by one runners would grab their Switchback Beer Opener Finisher Medals, get a drink of water alongside the road, and inevitably make their way into Switchback Brewing to relax and or grab a glass of beer.
Half-marathon finishers and their families relaxed and passed stories of their 13 mile journey. Smiles and laughs echoed throughout the warehouse and parking lot as the stress from the weeks leading up to this day finally could subside. All that there was left to do now was sit back in the cloudy 30 degree weather and enjoy the personal accomplishments they all achieved since stepping foot on Colchester Point Road earlier that day.