Duhon Overcomes Heat, Deep VCM Field

by EJN Comments (0) Articles, Racing

Madeline Duhon won the People’s Bank Vermont City Marathon last weekend in 2:50:07. Maddy is no stranger to uncomfortably hot marathons as she survived the LA Olympic Trials back in February (where she ran a 2:45:20).

Times were down across the board as it was a tough day with that record heat & humidity (hottest VCM ever). In fact even with that stacked field only 3 women broke three hours, so that right there just shows how tough of a day it was. Liz Ryan placed second in 2:55:12 and Leah Frost nabbed the last podium spot in 2:57:52. Six-time champ and current course record holder Heidi Westover returned to the race she’s owned in the past, and impressively placed 5th in 3:04:26. It’ll be interesting to see how she does as she gets deeper into her comeback.

In what just might be our first ever combo interview, we not only sent some questions over to Maddy but also randomly ran into her on the streets in Burlington. Check out the impromptu press conference just after the Q&A.

Was wondering how you thought this race compared to the Trials, strictly in terms of weather conditions?

Strictly in terms of weather conditions, I think VCM might have been tougher in some ways and less tough in others. VCM was less exposed with more patches of shade, particularly over the last 5-6 miles. On the other hand, VCM might have been a little more humid, which zaps your energy more than just dry heat and sunshine.

Did that recent experience in LA makes it any easier to deal with it?

I do think that the recent experience in LA made it easier to deal with the heat on Sunday. I was a little more relaxed and calm going into the race, knowing that hot hot temps was something I’d experienced before. Having the trials under my belt also helped me be a little more realistic about what to expect. I knew it would be a hard race and I’d have to hydrate extra, may not feel as energetic and quick as I’d like, might want to be more conservative in some of the early miles, and things like that. On the other hand, aside from being a bit more prepared, at the end of the day all the runners faced the same conditions, so I didn’t want to worry too much about the weather, just wanted to get out there and compete. I may choose a fall or winter marathon for the next one!

You didn’t ask this, but I’ll add it anyways 😊. Aside from the weather, both races were crazy-exciting and unique in different ways. In LA, after qualifying relatively at the last minute, I was pretty thrilled to be there. Leading at VCM and breaking the tape was a pretty fun experience, so both memorable races in very different ways. So grateful to have had both experiences.

Were you aware that you had it in hand over the last 10k? Were you tempted to back off at all?

I can’t say that I knew I had it in hand over the last 10k, exactly. The last I had seen of the other female runners was somewhere before the halfway point when the race folds back on itself, and I saw that I had somewhat of a lead. Around mile 18-20, my boyfriend was able to tell me that the next female runner was 3-4 minutes behind. So I knew I had a bit of a lead, but also knew that anything can happen in a marathon, including someone boosting it to catch up or my falling off the pace. Even though it seemed unlikely that someone would pass me, I didn’t want to take anything for granted, so I just focused on finishing up without backing up too much. When a female relay runner passed me around mile 23-24, she was so helpful and cheered “you’re about to win a marathon!” That gave me an extra and much-needed boost. I owe her a thank you. Next time I run a marathon, my goal will be to finish strong the last 10k.

As promised, here’s the surprise video on the streets of Burlington (well after the race was over):

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This is definitely one of the things that makes this a must-run race. You go out afterwards and it’s a who’s who of New England running. You walk down the street and can’t go 100 feet without seeing someone you know. If you start out with a small group of people, odds are the group will be much bigger by the end of the night.

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