This was the seventh year the Kingdom Run, a 5K, 10K and half-marathon, has been held in Irasburg to benefit the Northeast Kingdom Spay-Neuter Program. John Duff, of Newfane, finished the half-marathon in 1:48:54; good enough for second place in the men’s 60–69 division. It was the sixth year the Newfane optometrist has taken part in the event. Nearly 80 competitors completed the half-marathon while 40 did the 10K and 120 took part in the 5K.
VS: What brings you back to a race 160 miles from your home year after year?
JD: I have a second home in the Kingdom so I tend to be up there a lot, but I discovered this race when it first started and have been coming ever since. The venue is very nice, and it’s a low-key race. It’s typical Vermont.
VS: Describe what you mean by low-key.
JD: It’s not overly competitive and not a super-crowded race. I’ve done races like the Vermont City Marathon, but I’d rather do smaller races with less of a crowd.
VS: Was the course challenging?
JD: It’s a very nice, scenic course and probably 90 percent is on dirt roads. It’s an out-and-back course with rolling hills. It’s a little challenging at times, for sure, and generally, I’ve lucked out because I don’t think they’ve had a bad-weather day for the race.
VS: Does the out-and-back nature make it good for spectators?
JD: I haven’t seen a lot of spectators. I have noticed over the years that it’s a family event, possibly because they have different race lengths. The core group has been getting larger as it goes along, but it’s still a nice-sized race.
VS: What was the best part of the race?
JD: I’d have to say the end is the best because the food afterwards is always good. They always have ice cream with blueberries. That’s been one of their staples after the race.
VS: How does the race compare to other half-marathons?
JD: I guess it’s pretty similar. I do a lot of Vermont races so I’m used to rolling hills. I’ve done the Dandelion Run, which is also in the Kingdom, and the Rolling Irish Run, which is similar. I’m signed up for the Old Stone House Fall Foliage Run, which I think might be entirely on dirt roads. The races in the Northeast Kingdom are all really scenic.
VS: If you were in charge of the race, would you do anything differently?
JD: I don’t believe so. As the years have gone on, they’ve made an efficient delivery of the race. There are tons of volunteers who do a really good job. I’ve never seen a glitch. The way they do it now seems to go quite smoothly, and they also seem to be pretty efficient about getting the funds to their cause of spaying and neutering animals. They don’t even waste money on bibs. A tree farm gives them stickers, which are attached with just one pin, and they rip off the bottom at the end of the run. They don’t waste money on things that aren’t necessary, but they still put on a nice show.