Matt Pelletier capped off his decade+ of dominance at the People’s Bank Vermont City Marathon on Sunday by breaking the tape for an event record tying 6th time. The win was the 2nd consecutive, and as impressive as that was, it was actually the second time he’s pulled that off. Pelletier has actually pulled off the the 3-peat here, doing it in his more youthful days of 2006 – 2008. But don’t take that the wrong way, as he seemed plenty youthful battling the heat on Sunday. It’s a truly a testament to his hard work and perseverance to see him come back and repeat again a decade after his first win.
It needs to be typed out: 2006, 2007, 2008, 2012, 2015, 2016. In the last 11 editions of the race, Matty P has lined up for 8 of them, and he has 2nd place finish in 2013 and a 4th place finish in 2014 to his credit along with his six wins. In those 8 visits he only missed the podium once, and just by one spot. Amazing.
Matt ran a 2:23:02 for the win, which somehow wasn’t even his slowest winning time in Burlington. As you may already know, the race was discontinued about 4 hrs into it due to dangerously hot weather conditions. The wet bulb readings went into the black, so to speak, and people still out on the course had to stop. Race day started off with ‘yellow’ warning signs and very quickly that shifted to ‘red’. It was bad. Check out the hourly:
So yeah, things were pretty bad, even worse than anticipated in some ways. The night before the race, the predicted ‘real feel’ at the start was only supposed to be 73 degrees, but as you can see above it was closer to 80. Thankfully the race organizers and volunteers did a spectacular job of both preparing and executing. Things could’ve been so much worse, if not for their efforts.
Anyway, back to Matty P’s win. Since we were too hot to conduct a post-race interview, we got this Q&A with the champ via email afterwards. With our feet up and a cold beverage in hand.
There was talk in the months leading up to the race that you were on the fence about even running. At what point did you decide to give it a go? And how confident were you about your conditioning?
Either before or directly after the trials I developed shingles, and had to take all of March off. April was still pretty rough, but once I got through that I started making rapid gains. I wasn’t sure if I was going to run because trying to run 10 miles was painful and took a lot out of me. Once I was able to finish some long runs, and do some workouts I knew I was in. I don’t just show up to races when I’m fit enough to win (VCM 2014), but I have to be sure I’m fit enough to finish
The last 2-3 weeks went REALLY well as far as workouts and a tuneup race. I was pretty confident going in, but I knew that Blair (Teal) was very fit, and Glorious (Rop) was making his debut which made him a wildcard. I had no idea (Stephen) Furst was going to be there, or what kind of shape Sam (Morse) was going to be in.
There were also a few other guys in the field who had some decent street cred like Teague O’Connor, Christian Thompson, and Shingirai Badza, guys I don’t see very often but have legit times
How much did the forecast alter your race plan? Were you content to let other runners show their hand first, holding off for a strong late race move?
I spoke with Blair before the race, and we both had bad races at the Trials. We figured that the field was probably going to base themselves off of us, and we wanted to go out conservativeish, but not too conservative that the speedsters (mostly Furst) would be able to tuck in and out-kick us. We thought 5:30’s for the first 3 and then see what happened from there. We ran pretty conservative through 10 miles or so, but once we got into that first neighborhood section, the pace started to quicken. We came through the 1/2 in 1:10 exactly, which is probably quicker than we should have, since I was planning on just under 1:09 BEFORE the weather forecast.
We could see you were hanging right off of Furst coming up Battery St. By 20 miles you had a lead you wouldn’t relinquish. What happened in those 5 miles?
Furst pushed the hill a bit more than I wanted to. With it being so hot, and with so much race left, I wasn’t sure if I should cover the move, or back off and let him go. Blair did the same thing just before the hill. He backed off and was able to pick off people on the bike path. I let him go a bit, but once we crested the hill, he either slowed down and let me get back on, or I caught him on my own. We ran together through 17, and Sam fell off just a bit. From 17-18 mile the “big move” happened. I ran a 5:12 mile and put some distance on everyone. I was alone from there to the finish. Sam never really fell too far off, and stayed about 30 sec behind me from the hill to the finish
I think we were both falling apart at the same rate, because he didn’t gain on me as I slowed. The last 4 miles on the bike path were really painful and I kept envisioning getting out kicked a la Zablocki in 2013. It never happened. I really started cramping once we hit the soft grass at the finish, and thought I was going to fall.
So how special was this win?
Every win feels good. To come out on top in such poor conditions feels good
I thought I heard that you were done, at least in terms of competing at a high level, after the Trials. Did you really consider that? How long do you think you’ll keep this going for?
My retirement is based solely on Jill getting pregnant. It hasn’t happened yet, so I’m still competing. It can’t go on indefinitely, so I think that will be a nice way to end my career.
That’s a great way to go out! You must be like the Mayor of Burlington at this point. Would you keep going back to the race even just to finish it and be a part of it? Everyone needs a vacation anyway!
I’m not sure. It would be hard for me to not be tempted to compete all out and see what I could do. When I retire from the sport, I’ll probably retire from any running whatsoever. My brain can’t comprehend with training “just a little”. I’m either all in or all out
So assuming the Matty P Express keeps rolling through the fall… What’s next on your radar?
I’d like to go up and volunteer, or commentate on a lead vehicle or something like that. That race is so good it needs more exposure and some live coverage with experienced people behind the mic. I didn’t hear the commentary on this year’s coverage so I’m not knocking it, but experienced people covering the race makes all the difference
Hartford in the fall is the next big race. Gaspee Days in two weeks will also happen, but my legs are shite right now, so I’m not expecting much. Then the Great Cranberry Island marathon with Bronson (Venable) the week after followed by the usual summer races…Blessing, Run4Kerri, and Bobby Doyle.
At the awards ceremony you were asked if you were going to do anything top last year’s tattoo (more ink, etc.). After more time to consider, have you come up with anything?
I’ve got nothing. I called out Kasie Enman and Heidi Westover instead. I should have also called out Jeremy Shortsleeve instead. He also has 6 wins at VCM.
Big congrats to Matty P! More on this race to come, including an impromptu street conference with some of New England’s finest. The women’s champ may or may not be in the mix there. You’ll just have to wait and see… For now, check out the amazing gallery put together by Scott Mason Photo.