ST. JOHNSBURY — Dubbed “the hilliest half marathon in Vermont,” the Kingdom Challenge on October 15 drew 40 runners. The point-to-point course from Lyndonville to St. Johnsbury involved 1,440 feet of uphill climbs and 1,519 feet of descents. On race day, much of the course was shrouded in a foggy mist.
Timothy Mulligan, 41, outpaced Caleb Clark, 33 to win the 13.1-mile race. Their times were 1:22:42 and 1:23:40. Caitlin Littlefield, 37, and Tara Nelson, 48, were the top two female finishers. Their times were 1:46:50 and 1:49:57.
Hazen Union cross country coach Netdahe Stoddard, 45, has run the Kingdom Challenge multiple times. Stoddard started the race in fourth place within a group of four runners. They soon separated from the rest of the pack. He moved into third place during mile two. Mulligan took the lead after mile four.
“By mid-race, I ran alone and completely unpressured,” said Stoddard. “I was hoping for a sub-90-minute race and top-five finish, so I was more than happy with the effort.”
Stoddard placed third in 1:26:28. Ricky McLain, 36, placed fourth in 1:35:38. Like Stoddard, he hails from Cabot. ̶McLain finished nearly four minutes faster than the last time he ran the race, in 2018, when he also placed fourth.
McLain mentally approached the race as three big climbs, the last one topping out at mile eight. He ran the first few miles with two other guys, enjoying their conversation. On the first climb, he pulled ahead.
“I tried to be steady but not too hard up the hills, to have some gas left in the tank for the five miles downhill to the finish,” said McLain. “I think I paced it pretty well.”
Linda Ramsdell, 58, from Craftsbury, ran the Kingdom Challenge for the first time. She placed 32nd overall, finishing in 2:17:51. Ramsdell credited the Craftsbury Outdoor Center’s Masters ski program for her success in completing the half marathon. Athletes in the program do periodic hill and strength training sessions, sometimes on West Hill Road in Craftsbury.
“I stayed within my pace goal at the start and then felt good on the first big climb,” said Ramsdell. “The miles went by surprisingly quickly and I was able to close some distance on people in front of me on the uphills, which was rewarding. I liked the challenge of the course, even in the fog which stuck around for most of the race. It was nice to run in the cool autumn weather.”
Ramsdell signed up for the race on the last day of registration. Though she wasn’t sure if she was ready for the distance and elevation, she wanted a goal to meet – especially with the winter cross country ski season approaching. The Kingdom Challenge was her first half marathon in about 10 years.
“After regaining my fitness, I was motivated to keep it,” said Ramsdell. “I started slowly with a run-walk regimen and worked my way to the half marathon distance. I’m happy to have done an official half marathon this season!”
Local Half Marathoners Flock to Grand Isle
SOUTH HERO — Maxfield English did not have much warm-up before Sunday’s Green Mountain Half Marathon. Arriving at Folsom Elementary School a few minutes before the 8:40 a.m. start, he registered and pinned on his race bib. The gun sounded as he hustled from the school to the starting line.
English, 46, from Wolcott, may well be the fastest male Masters runner from the 10 towns covered by the Hardwick Gazette. Competing in distances from 5k to a half marathon, he is often among the top three finishers. Sunday’s half marathon presented an unusual challenge: starting the race in last place.
“This was the second-flattest race I have done this season, and it was a pretty fast course,” said English. “I missed the gun by over a half minute. It was a different feeling playing catch-up instead of pacing out and settling in with a crew. I weaved my way up the pack, in a catch-and-release style. It was great to cheer on the other runners in the out-and-back format, which always boosts morale. The weather was just perfect, and the scenery was quintessential Vermont in autumn.”
English finished fourth in the 225-runner field. His time of 1:21:55 won the M40-49 age group. Daniel Moncada, 32, of Fairfax, and Jordan Hamrick, 33, from Morgantown, W.V., won the men’s and women’s divisions. Their respective times for the 13.1-mile race were 1:14:29 and 1:27:09.
Rose Modry, 43, from Greensboro, matched English with a win in the F40-49 age group. She finished eighth overall in the women’s division, in 1:39:47. Erica Rose, 47, from Plainfield, placed 14th in the women’s division. Her time was 1:43:55.
Modry credited strengthening work and alignment physical therapy from Victoria Hill of Hardwick as keys to her success as a runner. Hill, 48, also participated in the Green Mountain Half Marathon. She finished 68th of 128 women, in 2:10:30. The race was her second half marathon since recovering from heart surgery.
“It was great to be back out there running a half,” said Hill. “I love the positive energy and support amongst runners. Add in the beauty of Vermont in the fall, and what more could you ask for?”
Dot Helling, 72, of Adamant, has run the gently rolling route along the west shore of Grand Isle many times. Still feeling the effects of long COVID, she switched from the marathon to the half marathon. She finished 70th in the women’s division, in 2:10:47, and placed second in the F70-79 age group.
“It was a struggle,” said Helling. “The autumn colors were awesome and made it all worthwhile. Alas, it was my swan song for this course, which now is 100% pavement.”
Elizabeth McCarthy, 69, from Walden, placed 84th in the women’s division. Her time of 2:16:57 was one second faster than her finish last year.
“The leaves put on a show, with lots of runners and enthusiastic volunteers all along the route,” said McCarthy. “I felt good for much of the race, but then at around mile 8.5 or nine, I felt like I was running in slow motion and could do nothing about it. I don’t know if hiking for a few days in the White Mountains was too much for me, but I did feel like my legs were heavier than usual.”
McCarthy’s husband, Tim Hogeboom, 71, also contended with somewhat tired legs. A few days after running the Leaf Peepers half marathon on October 2, he and McCarthy hiked West Bond Mountain. The 4,540 ft. summit in Lincoln, N.H., was the finale in Hogeboom’s 47-year quest to climb New Hampshire’s 48 tallest peaks over 4,000 feet.
Running in the Green Mountain Half Marathon, Hogeboom placed 59th of 96 male half marathoners. His time of 2:00:30 was the second fastest for the M70-79 age group. The race was his 24th of the year.
Libations Lure Local Racers
STOWE — A horde of thirsty runners participated in the Heady Trotter 4-miler on Oct. 16. With a whopping 1,498 finishers, the event is one of the largest running races in Vermont. Proceeds help to benefit Green Mountain Adaptive Sports.
Thomas Wolfe, 17, of Grantham, N.H., and Linda Spooner, 48, from Sturbridge, Mass., were the men’s and women’s winners. Their respective times were 21:11 and 25:33.
Jeff Beal, 36, and Lindzey Beal, 36, were the top finishers from towns covered by the Hardwick Gazette. The running couple from Wolcott finished in respective times of 22:16 and 27:59. Jeff placed fifth in the men’s division. Lindzey placed fifth in the women’s division.
Bess Powers, 61, Marshfield, placed 70th in the women’s division. Her time of 32:44 was the second fastest in the F60-64 age group.
Twinfield cross country coach Cathy DuPont, 57, finished in 33:43. She placed 103rd in the women’s division and sixth in the F55-59 age group.