Team Prize Money On the Line at the Vermont City Marathon

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The Vermont City Marathon is just under 3 weeks away now and approaching fast. Most runners are finalizing their own race plans but many could be overlooking another interesting race day element. There is a team competition once again this year, as there was the last two years.

The team competition really came into focus at the 2015 edition of the race, but they actually first rolled out the program in 2014. Of course in 2015 a lot of attention was paid to the teams due to the fact that the race was also the USATF-NE marathon championship.

It’s not part of the USATF-NE circuit this year, but the program is still showing solid growth. According to Joe Connelly (Director of Race Operations): “Between 2014 and 2016 we’re up about 15% on runners who identify on their registrations that they are club members. In my opinion that’s pretty good.”

So far there are at least 19 clubs with at least 7 runners entered into the race. Of course that number only shows the overall depth that some clubs are rolling in with because you only need 3 runners to score for each category. And just what might those categories (and prizes) be?

Male Open Teams: 1st place: $500, 2nd place: $400, 3rd place: $300
Female Open Teams: 1st place: $500, 2nd place: $400, 3rd place: $300
Male Masters Teams: 1st place: $400, 2nd place: $300, 3rd place: $200
Female Masters Teams: 1st place: $400, 2nd place: $300, 3rd place: $200

It would certainly make for a fun night out on Church St after the race if you brought home some of that bacon.

The GMAA is leading the way so far with 63 runners, and that’s to be expected since it’s on their home turf. But then you see clubs from further out like the Hudson Mohawk Road Runners Club coming with 15 runners, the NYRR with 32 and then some MA-based teams such as the Greater Lowell Road Runners and the Heartbreakers, with 13 and 7 runners respectively. They’re coming from all over, and they’re brining friends. It’ll be interesting to see where the strengths lie for the various clubs (master vs open, men vs women)…or some clubs could be be strong across the board.

The team competition will raise the overall level of competition on race day, but will there be competition for services of certain runners? Taking a look at the elite field we can see that although many of them have team affiliations, not all of them are tied down to any one club. So, would they latch on to a team, perhaps forming some sort of super group?

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One runner getting ahead of that and looking to capitalize on a golden opportunity is 5-time race winner Matt Pelletier. Matt is offering to run as part of your team for the cool, low price of $600. We reminded Matt that the winning team would only earn $500, but he was well aware of that difference. “I’m offering one lucky team the chance to taste victory, and to drink from that golden cup you have to pay a premium.” As much as we want to argue against that, we can’t. He’s right, dammit!

“I’ve been fortunate enough to have won some races over the years, but because of that I have grown accustomed to a certain lifestyle and I need to find that supplemental revenue to maintain it.” This lifestyle includes extravagances such as brand name sparkling water, Double Stuff Oreos, and those fancy facial tissues with the lotion (for sensitive noses).

Although Matt may run like a pro, he holds down a 9-5 job just like the rest of us so we can respect the creativity when it comes to creating new revenue streams. But don’t worry, he’s not looking to make money that’s not earned. “If the team doesn’t win, then they’ll only have to pay my $200 appearance fee. Double Stuff Oreos aren’t cheap!”

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Okay, that whole section about Matt Pelletier selling his allegiance is completely fabricated, although we suspect he’s into Double Stuff Oreos. Profiting off of this would probably be frowned upon, no matter how hilarious the quotes are.

Getting back to the serious stuff, here’s a little more info on what constitutes a club for this race, and how teams can be comprised:

A club may be a USATF registered club, a club registered for a different country (i.e Athletics Canada), or a club registered for a different sport (i.e. USAT, USSA, etc). A club may also be unregistered formally with any organization. If you are a group of runners that regularly trains or races together, you are eligible to form a club for this competition.

Another way of putting it is we’re not exactly talking about USATF teams here, so your club affiliation doesn’t need to be as formal as it was in 2015 when the race was part of the Grand Prix circuit.

The team element stands out to Connelly for more than just its race day impact: “I think my favorite part of the program is the big picture goals. As RunVermont, getting more people into running is part of our mission. Anything we can do that promotes the club system (formal and informal clubs) meets that mission. I also coach Men’s XC at St Michael’s College, and one of the things I’m always telling my guys is that finding a club to train and race with after college is a great way to keep their momentum rolling in the sport. Running for a high school or college team is a blast. Running with a post-college club is a blast. I try to get them to see the connection. When we host Invitationals we always invite the GMAA and having my guys see them in action as competitive runners, I think it makes them think.”

One amenity offered that people may not be aware of is the post-race Club Village. It’ll be in the south end of Waterfront Park, over near where the old finish line used to be (a good reference point for those more familiar with the event). “I’d love to see 15-20 clubs with tents set up and hanging out after the race, socializing, talking to each other, cooling out while all their racers come in after they finish,” said Connelly.

If not this year, then certainly that time is coming. For an event that offers one of the best race race day experiences and top notch dining and nightlife options afterwards, it’s not going to take very long for whole teams to catch on to what some of their runners already know: Burlington is the place to be on Memorial Day weekend.

For more info on team scoring: Awards

For more info on the invited/elite field: 2016 Invited Athletes

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