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Covered Bridges Half Marathon | Woodstock, Vermont

23rd Annual Covered Bridges Half Marathon
Photo/Art by Nancy Nutile-McMenemy

 

Last summer, a close friend and I were sitting around talking about our favorite road races. Almost immediately he started gushing over the Covered Bridges Half Marathon, a late spring race that snakes through the picturesque Vermont towns of Woodstock, Quechee, and Pomfret.

“It’s the most beautiful race I’ve ever run,” he said. But then his mood got serious as he prepared to impart some valuable wisdom. “But you gotta register right away. It fills up quick. Everybody wants to run the thing.”

‘Everybody’ is a bit of a stretch, perhaps, but not by much. When I went to sign up in mid-December, I just barely got in. A few minutes after registration opened, it was closed off. The race’s 2,300 slots had been filled.

The Covered Bridges Half Marathon dates back to 1992, when race founder, David Chioffi and some supporters launched a race whose course highlighted the Woodstock area’s best running routes. Dirt roads, farmland, and of course covered bridges, were all on the itinerary. Four hundred runners turned out for that inaugural run. And then it grew. By 2001, the entrants numbered nearly 3,000.

Over the years the course has been altered and in an effort to keep things manageable, an entrants cap has been imposed. But its popularity has only soared.

To a non-runner the idea of plunking down $50 to do something that you can essentially do anytime you want, for free, may seem odd. But a road race, the good ones anyway, turn into a rolling block party. It was certainly like that in the Woodstock area. The roads were lined with people. Strangers applauding strangers. Big signs and big applause as waves of us passed through town centers. At various points bands played. Brass and zydeco. String and folk. At the finish, enthusiastic bystanders urged us on, gave us that final kick as we ran down the home stretch. It’s the closest I’ve come to feeling like a celebrity.

The scenery lived up to its billing, too. For a long stretch I ran on a dirt road that meandered beside the Ottauquechee River. I passed by pastures and big farms, through the heart of delightful town centers and some of the Vermont’s most beautiful covered bridges. In Woodstock I ran down the center of the Middle Covered Bridge, one of the country’s most photographed.

Was I ready to stop running? You bet. But I was also excited for next year’s race. It’s June 7, in case you’re interested. For more on the race visit: www.cbhm.com/

Preparing for take-off. Runners at the starting line at Suicide Six Ski Area in Pomfret.

Photo/Art by Ian Aldrich
Preparing for take-off. Runners at the starting line at Suicide Six Ski Area in Pomfret.

 

DSC_2377

Photo/Art by Nancy Nutile-McMenemy
Throughout much of the race course crowds of supporters lined the roads to root us on.

 

 

Runners coming through the Middle Covered Bridge in Woodstock.

Photo/Art by Steve Giroux
Runners coming through the Middle Covered Bridge in Woodstock.

 

Before. Brian Bemond (left), Jonathan Rice (center), and the author (right).

Before. Brian Bemont (left), Jonathan Rice (center), and the author (right).

 

And after.

And after. Yes, that’s beer we’re drinking. And it’s still morning, but hey, Harpoon is one of the race sponsors.

 

The spread of food almost makes running 13.1 miles worth it. Almost.

Photo/Art by Ian Aldrich
The spread of food almost makes running 13.1 miles worth it. Almost.

Please Note: This article was accurate at the time of publication. When planning a trip, please confirm details by directly contacting any company or establishment you intend to visit.

Ian Aldrich

Author:

Ian Aldrich

Biography:

Senior editor of Yankee Magazine: Ian, a native New Englander who has worked and freelanced for Yankee for the past decade, writes feature stories, home pieces, and helps manage the magazine's up-front section, First Light. His stories have ranged from exploring the community impact from a church poisoning in a small town in northern Maine to dissecting the difficulties facing Nantucket around its problems with erosion. In addition to his connection to Yankee, Ian worked as a senior editor of Cincinnati Magazine for several years.
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2 Responses to Covered Bridges Half Marathon | Woodstock, Vermont

  1. JulofDenial June 17, 2014 at 11:57 am #

    Yours was a delightful and inspiring article, Ian! Makes me want to travel there just to run that race.

  2. Aimee Seavey June 20, 2014 at 3:23 pm #

    Awesome job, guys! No doubt the lovely views and lively music help keep you going mile after mile.

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