Disclaimer: I received free entry to the Mad Marathon Half as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!
This past weekend I headed north to Waitsfield, VT to run the Mad Marathon Half and state number 4 in pursuit of my 50 States 50 Half’s goal. This run is dubbed the “Worlds Most Beautiful Marathon” due to all of the sights and sounds along the course. And it did not disappoint.
The race was held in the Mad River Valley in Waitsfield, VT. Because the town was so small I had to do my research on this. The population of Waitsfield is 1,719. Just for context the last race I ran in Philly (Broad Street Run) had 40,000 runners. So needless to say I knew this race would be small. When I got to the bib pick up I believe the person told me there were 700 runners registered. That may have been cutting it short a bit, but yes it was indeed small.
However that is also what I enjoy most about running across the country. Sometimes I get spoiled with races in Philly. Even our local 5K’s get over 2,000 runners. So it is fun to run these small hometown races. Just you and the road ahead of you, in peace and quiet.
Now onto the review……
Pre Race/ Swag
Bib pick up for the race was at the Waitsfield Inn. This was not your normal race expo. There were three tents set up. One to find your bib number, another to collect your bib and the third was for the half fanatics. So needless to say you aren’t going to spend a lot of time here, in and out really. The set up was also a bit odd, the opening for the pick up was through the trees. Because of where they had you park you had to walk through the opening to get there. Definitely different from what I am used to. I would recommend them relocating bib pick up to a more easily accessible area, but it’s a small set up so the space isn’t really needed.
Even though the race was small, the swag was still excellent. The race shirt was basic from the standpoint that the only image was the race logo, which I like because sometimes races clutter shirts with their sponsors. It was also made of tech material and not just standard cotton. And the race bag was a nice cloth drawstring bag. Which was a nice add, considering there are large corporate funded races that even went away from this and offer you cheap plastic bags. So it was nice to see a small hometown race not cut costs here.
As I mentioned above the race is dubbed as the “Worlds Most Beautiful Marathon”. After running the course it is obvious why. However lets get this out of the way first, the hills on this course are possibly some of the worst I have faced. I thought Portland was tough, but that was a cake walk compared to some of these hills. Take a look at this course elevation….
Don’t get me wrong, I very much enjoyed that downhill stretch between mile 2 and 3. However climbing back up to the finish line was brutal. This was honestly the first race I ever ran where I questioned if I would finish. (Including 2 marathons). No wonder the scenery was so amazing, they had to trick you away from the hills.
But now onto the scenery. So far in my running journey, the scenes from this race are second to none. Waitsfield is a very small and quaint town. As a result you get some amazing views. Views you are hard to find at any other race. Here are a few pictures I took along the way.
I very much enjoyed this race. If you are not used to small, hometown races like I am, this is definitely one for the bucket list. You will be hard pressed to find another race with the views this one could offer.
If I had to make one suggestion to the race organizers it would be more communication. I did appreciate this race didn’t flood my inbox, however I also felt like I had to seek out information anytime I needed it. There were no updates sent out on schedule of events, or what was going on in the area. Instead if you wanted to find information, you had to look for it yourself. Also they were very quiet on social media. This is just a pet peeve of mine, however I like when races are very active on social because it make the runners feel more connected. But that’s just my 2 cents.
Overall I would recommend this race. It’s extremely challenging, but at the same time you are bound to get some sights that make the hills bearable. Plus visiting the town of Waitsfield was an interesting experience so in total I had an amazing experience.