Posted December 18th, 2010
With Bennington County’s two Shire towns marking 250th anniversaries next year, local running enthusiasts are planning a first-in-the-region 26.2-mile marathon for the spring of 2011 that will connect the South and North Shires, and raise money for a good cause.
The Shires of Vermont Marathon, scheduled for May 15, 2011, will take runners on a point-to-point course from Bennington to Manchester via the county’s scenic secondary and back roads. The Batten Kill Valley Runners are organizing the race—the first full-length marathon to be held in southern Vermont—in conjunction with the 250th anniversaries, and as a fundraiser for the Children and Family Services program of the United Counseling Service of Bennington County.
Details of the route are being finalized, but the race is expected to begin at the Bennington Center for the Arts and proceed through North Bennington, Shaftsbury, Arlington, and Sunderland before finishing at Hildene Meadows in Manchester.
BKVR club President Jon French says the marathon is expected to bring hundreds of runners and their friends and families to Bennington County during what tends to be a slow weekend for local businesses. “The middle of May is typically ideal running weather in Southwestern Vermont, and a great time to introduce a new group of visitors to the area,” says French. “We want the race to showcase the historic charm and natural beauty of the Shires, and provide a unifying theme for the region-wide anniversary celebration.”
French promises a first-class marathon experience for runners, with shuttle transportation to the start, electronic timing, medical support, and little or no traffic along much of the course.
Each of the cities and towns along the route can trace its origins to the year 1761. Bennington’s first settlers arrived that year, while Manchester and the other towns were chartered by New Hampshire Governor Benning Wentworth that same summer. The county has the unusual distinction of retaining two county seats, or “shire towns”—Bennington and Manchester—each with its own courthouse.
The race logo, which was created by local graphic designer Heidi Humphrey, features a determined runner navigating a scenic county road, with a courthouse cupola—symbolizing the Shires—in the distance.
Race applications and online registration are available at www.shiresofvermontmarathon.com. The Batten Kill Valley Runners club is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization dedicated to promoting health and fitness through the sport of running. The club holds races throughout the year in southwestern Vermont and adjacent New York State. For information on registering, volunteering, or sponsoring the race, contact David Durfee, race director, at info@ShiresofVermontMarathon.com or 802-442-4414.