Green Mountain Athletic Association Rollin Irish Half-Marathon
April 21, 2012
Ruth Blauwiekel, a veterinarian at the University of Vermont’s Department of Animal Sciences, considers herself a middle-of-the-pack runner. The 58-year-old Colchester resident ran the Rollin Irish Half Marathon in 1:53:23, placing fourth in her age group and in the top third for all women. The race, which takes place mostly on dirt roads, attracted 136 participants from Vermont, New York, and Quebec.
VS: Was this your first time doing this race?
RB: I’ve done it four or five times. Last year there was sleet and strong winds, and it was very tough, but this year was delightful. There was rain and gusty winds in the forecast, but the rain held off until the afternoon, and the winds were relatively light and from the north, which helped because it swept us home in the end. The roads were not muddy, which is unusual for Vermont in April. The conditions couldn’t have been better.
VS: The course is described “wicked hilly.” Is that a good assessment?
RB: It’s fairly hilly, but, after all, this is Vermont. It’s definitely a challenging course, but we had some great times for this race. I think the fact that the temperatures were mild was a big plus. If it was hot it could have been tough.
VS: What do you like about the course?
RB: It’s very scenic. It’s a beautiful course that goes by farms and orchards. The fact that it’s dirt makes it easier on your ankles and knees. On clear days you can see as far as the lake, although this year, there were some clouds. Aside from the fact that you’re running, I’d call it a restful course.
VS: How does this compare to other half-marathons?
RB: I do six or seven half-marathons a year because I like the distance. The previous week I did the Unplugged half-marathon, which is very different because it’s in town, although it also has some nice views. I’d say this is probably more difficult than some other courses because of the hills, but it is also one of the most scenic.
VS: The race is sponsored by the GMAA. Are you a member?
RB: I am. They put on some great races that are very reasonably priced. They want to keep racing affordable. It’s a nice group of people, so we often get together to do things socially. There are activities every week including speed work, distance runs, and team races for which we travel to other locations. It’s a nice supportive group of people.
VS: What was the appeal of the race for you?
RB: I really like the course even though it’s a challenging one. I like that there isn’t a lot of traffic. It’s a nice-sized run, not a huge production with long lines and a lot of congestion. It’s just a nice, friendly, doable, affordable race. Plus, they always have great food. This year there were bagels and chocolate chip and oatmeal raisin cookies. People usually run so they can have an excuse to eat.
VS: Would you do anything differently?
RB: I thought the organization this year was great. The food is great, the parking was easy, and there were plenty of Porta-Potties. The organizers did a great job, and there were plenty of volunteers. I can’t think of any improvements.