As Naomi and I descended College Street down to the waterfront, it was obvious something special was happening.
I should have guessed earlier. On arriving in Burlington, Vermont, for our annual trip to replenish my dwindling supplies of Tibetan incense, at first we couldn’t find a parking spot. The place was packed.
During lunch at our favourite Mexican resto, I noticed someone sitting at a nearby booth wearing what looked like an Olympic medal around his neck. Later I noticed the word “Volunteer” printed on the material going around his neck.
Ah, I thought, as I noticed throngs of people coming up from Lake Champlain: A marathon!
So was I introduced to the latest iteration – the 27th – of the Vermont City Marathon & Relay.
I’m not a marathon type of guy, which, considering the number of people involved in this year’s version, would seem to put me in the minority. (This year’s winners – congrats – were Matt Pelletier from West Greenwich, Rhode Island, in 2h 19m 12 s, and Kastie Enman for the women, from Huntington, Vermont, in 2:49:03.) I mean, there were 1,700 volunteers alone in this year’s marathon!
Unfortunately, there was little the volunteers could do about the sorry state of many of these runners’ feet, as was very evident from the way participants gingerly favoured their shins walking back to their cars, hotels or heading off for lunch.
Some people were limping, others walked carefully and awkwardly, grimacing with each step. It’s true that the winners run took them over two hours, but as we approached the finish line, we also discovered that some people were still out on the track after over six hours! The MC tried his best to encourage those still on the bandstand to ring the cowbells and cheer on the late finishers: “Coming up, Lindsay Thomas from El Paso, Texas! Let’s give her a big round of applause!”
And lo and behold, around the corner came Lindsay running without a care in the world. Other finishers walked to the end, however. (I know, had it been me out there, I would have finished crawling on my hands and knees…)
This marathon was pure Americana, with the enthusiastic MC on the mike, thousands of friends, runners and volunteers milling about eating ice cream cones or pushing strollers.
In fact, Naomi and I enjoyed a couple of ice cream cones ourselves (soft, of course) and, personally, I privately blessed my comfortable (and very flat) feet for getting me down the hill to the waterfront and for not killing me at that very moment.