BURLINGTON ̶ Runners numbering in the thousands took to city streets Sunday for the 33rd Vermont City Marathon and Relay. Clear skies at sunrise foretold a morning of rising temperatures. The temperature was 60 degrees F for the 7:15 a.m. start and climbed to near 80 degrees F for the later finishers. A cool breeze off Lake Champlain, intermittent shade, and neighborhood garden hoses kept runners comfortable as they wound their way through city streets and along the Burlington Bike Path.
Ellen Emers was the fastest marathon finisher with ties to the Hardwick Gazette’s coverage area. Emers grew up in East Hardwick. A 2015 Hazen Union grad, she competed in cross country and track and field for the Wildcats. Emers continued her athletic career at St. Michael’s College, in Winooski. She was a four-year member of the women’s cross country team and the Nordic ski team.
During high school and college, Emers was known for a strong work ethic. Emers, now 26, tested her fitness Sunday at her first 26.2-mile marathon. She completed the first half of the two-loop marathon course in 1:50:13. Her second half time was 1:58:17. She crossed the finish line at Waterfront Park in 3:48:30. Emers placed 328th overall and 25th in the competitive F25-29 age group.
Anna Milkowski, 48, from Montpelier, ran the Boston Marathon on April 17, finishing in 3:39:54. Less than three weeks later, she completed the Adamant Half Marathon on May 7. Her time on the hilly dirt road course was 1:49:06. Three weeks after Adamant, she was back on the starting line at the Vermont City Marathon.
“I signed up to race VCM as a fitness and training experiment,” said Milkowski. “Not having run much in the last six weeks, I went into the race curious about how it would go and quite relaxed. I ran even splits, but the final trip up Main Street and Church Street was slow, and the last few miles on the bike path dragged on. I came away thinking the marathon is just a tough event, even when you are well prepared.”
Milkowski completed the first half of the marathon in 1:47:44. As the temperature rose, she ran through sprinklers and took a bag of ice from neighborhood residents. Although the exposed parts of the course were hot, she found welcome relief and time to recharge in the wooded shady areas. She enjoyed the fan support and musicians along the course, the beautiful views, and friendly fellow competitors.
“My focus in marathon running is on the personal challenge of trying to improve and the puzzle of putting together a good race on race day,” said Milkowski. “I enjoy the strategy associated with trying to make good on your fitness through tactics like pacing well, drafting when it matters, running the shortest line through a corner, and eating and drinking strategically.”
Milkowski paced the second half of the marathon at 1:49:55, just two minutes slower than her first half. Her finish time of 3:37:39 earned fifth-place honors in the F45-49 age group.
Tim Noonan, 67, from Montpelier, coached the Montpelier High School cross country team for many years. Noonan completed the 2023 Boston Marathon in 4:03:22. He ran in the inaugural Vermont City Marathon in 1989, finishing in a personal best time of 2:55. This was his 22nd time running the storied Burlington race.
“I liked the new two-loop format for the marathon,” said Noonan. “It combines the best of the old course and allows you to prepare for what to expect in the last difficult miles.”
Noonan knew that the warm and sunny conditions would have an effect on his time, particularly during the second half of the marathon. He felt that even though he was in shape to finish between 3:53 and 3:55, four hours was a more realistic goal. He ran the first half comfortably, in 1:56:43.
As expected, Noonan ran the second half about five minutes slower than the first half. He finished the marathon in 3:58:23. “We were helped by low humidity and a cooling breeze coming off the lake,” said Noonan. “The race was well-run and the spectators were very supportive.”
While Noonan notched runner-up honors in the M65-69 division, his race was not the main highlight. “I reveled in my 23-year-old-daughter, Theresa, running her first marathon,” said Noonan. “She had an impressive debut, finishing in 3:44 and pacing very well in tricky conditions (she ran the second half only three minutes slower than the first half).”
Louis Serafini, 31, from Cambridge, Mass., was the fastest male finisher, in 2:17:55. Maegan Krifchin, 35, from Cambridge, Mass., topped the women’s division, in 2:33:40. She broke Heidi Westerling’s 2009 course record of 2:35:02.
Jennifer Moltz, 34, from Roxbury, and John Stanton-Geddes, 41, from Burlington, were the first Vermont woman and man to finish. Their respective times were 3:05:40 and 2:36:57.
Run Vermont Honors Ellerson and Helling
BURLINGTON ̶ At a marathon weekend event, two long term Central Vermont Runners club members entered the Run Vermont Hall of Fame. Darragh Ellerson, from Montpelier, and Dot Helling, from Adamant, were honored for their service and leadership in the Vermont running community.
Ellerson, 92, was one of the four original members who formed Central Vermont Runners. Ellerson ran in high school, took time off for family, and returned to running at age 45. She played a key role starting the Leaf Peepers Half Marathon and served as co-director of the race for many years. Ellerson can still be found volunteering at local races and fun runs.
Helling, 73, completed dozens of marathons during her running career, with her favorites being Boston, Vermont City, and the Green Mountain Marathon. She was one of the first women ultra marathoners, completing several 100-mile races. She has run the Mount Washington Road Race multiple times, often placing first or second in her division.
In addition to her running longevity and age group records, Helling is an active volunteer with Central Vermont Runners. She serves as a running coach for elementary school children, a race coordinator, and as a board member of the Vermont Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports.