Covered Bridges Half Marathon this Sunday…Enjoy the Vermont Ride!

Just a couple of country miles from my little house on the hill resides our local ski mountain. An improvised rope tow put Suicide Six on the map as the first ski resort in the United States to have a ski lift. A family ski resort that has been assigned a summer task. To host this upcoming Sunday June 5th a sizable field of half marathon runners of all abilities from various places.

The physical preparations for the Covered Bridges Half Marathon (CBHM) have suddenly sprouted. Grand white tents. Peaks taught stretching towards the sunlit cumulus clouds. Thick supportive cables staked and rooted in the gravel. Designated bib number pick-up and gear drop-off locations. Port o lets grouped and huddled in the annexed lot. The parking lot will be a well-oiled machine as the school buses arrive to drop off the adrenaline filled runners. What looks like a seamless effort in fact has been months of planning. Years of experience…

Small heavy rectangular cardboard signs are strategically placed roadside from the start, dotted along the route and ending at the finish. The messages are appropriately advisory and directional. A simple white line stretches across Stage Road signifying the start. The line so basic in its appearance but significant for the eager runner.

Come this weekend somewhere around 2500 plus runners will toe this magical line where the journey truly begins…

I have run this half marathon 5 or so times. Respectable efforts. Most were under two hours and a couple just after. A finish always. There is success in that alone. I have learned the heartbreak of a DNF in Boston in 2012 that still painfully gnaws at me. Unfinished running business…

My first CBHM was ten plus years ago. Registering for this ever-popular half marathon was its own competitive event but I got in!

Race day early morning I stood alone in the parking lot wondering how my run would go. I had trained. I was confident in that but on any given day our best running effort isn’t always enough. I was thrilled to run this course. I was caught up in the magic of Vermont…

The sound of the gun fired. The race was on. We headed down Stage Road towards Woodstock. Smiles dominated as we all settled into our individual pace and the race. Our goals as individual as each runner. That is the beauty of this sport. Well, at least one of the many incredible aspects of running. A few turns were supported by cheering crowds as we ran through the quintessential Woodstock Village which included a covered bridge. The Middle Bridge. Breathing echoed while footfalls tapped the wooden planks. The roads we travel…

Leaving the village, we passed Billings Farm and Museum. A working Jersey cow dairy farm. We then began to wind our way up and out along River Road. The glorious Ottauquechee River on our right served as a natural course guide. Gravel underfoot. A tire swing affixed with a thick rope dangled off a mighty oak tree waiting for local teens to employ it on a hot summer afternoon. Grand houses and farms to my left. Pure white fences for acres. Morgan horses grazing. An expansive apple orchard while the gentle flow of the river tripped over the rocks exposing a soft sandy riverbed. Animated crystals sparkled and danced off the water under a cobalt blue sky. June in Vermont.

Quick feet that remained persistent in their journey. I continued my way and as I approached the notorious mile 8, I heard the clanking of pots and pans. This brief steep climb was decorated with crowds cheering the runners on while banging on kitchen pots. The much-needed distraction from the climb was warm and wonderful. At the top of the hill, I was struck by the glorious vista and the quiet. So, this is Vermont. I had entered the secret garden of the course in this beautiful state. I ran along passed pastures, barns and houses seated so solidly on the earth. I fell in love…

The miles began to challenge as the finish was closing in. Bands played along the course. Simon Pearce nobly standing was a very welcome sight. The polo field finish in Quechee, VT was truly possible. The coveted CBHM tee shirt must be earned as they are distributed after a runner finishes. I proudly have each of mine in various colors…

I wish all the runners’ swift feet this race weekend. I encourage them all to take a moment and look up and around so they might drink up what Vermont has to offer…

I always loved running…it was something you could do by yourself, and under your own power. You could go in any direction, fast or slow as you wanted, fighting the wind if you felt like it, seeking out new sights just on the strength of your feet and the courage of your lungs.” –Jesse Owens, four-time Olympic gold medalist

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Elizabeth Ricketson

Elizabeth Ricketson

A graduate of Providence College with a BA in English, Elizabeth Ricketson has always had a love of literature and the fine arts.