A cheering crowd in Waitsfield Sunday helped nearly 1,300 runners cross the finish line of the 3rd Annual Mad Marathon.
And for the first time ever, the race is dedicating all 26.2 miles to sustainability. This year, Mad Marathon organizers partnered with 1% for the Planet, a platform for businesses to donate small annual percentages to environmental organizations.
"I think it fits with Vermont, and especially in the Mad River Valley. We have a lot of farms here -- a lot of organic -- and 1% of the Planet is based right here in Waitsfield, so it was a natural fit," said Melissa Roberts, a marathon organizer.
While the race organizers had a goal of raising awareness for local sustainability, some runners had additional objectives. Like Nathan Bedford, who helped start Hannah's House, after losing his sister who struggled with bipolar disorder for many years. "It's awesome, this is our biggest fundraiser. We are constantly trying to find new ways to raise money and keep this organization. We are helping a lot of kids and families right now, and we have gotten a lot of thanks from people in the neighborhood," Bedford said. The organization provides therapy for families with children and young adults who are struggling with mental illnesses. Bedford estimates the 30 plus runners raised over $30,000 for Hannah's House.
The scenic course winds through the Mad River Valley hills, which organizers say makes the marathon both beautiful and tough. But for runners like Steve Meunier, tough hills make crossing the finish line that much sweeter. "Because it is such a hilly course, there is a great sense of accomplishment in doing that, but completing any marathon for anybody is a great sense of accomplishment," he said.
And with the unpredictable weather lately, race organizers say they were relieved Mother Nature cooperated long enough for the marathon to take place."You worry about the humidity because people can get really dehydrated then and then of course we have had frequent thunderstorms, so we had to plan as if it would be fine. And fortunately we have really lucked out, the few sprinkles we have had have actually been good for the runners," Roberts said.