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(NECN: Jack Thurston, Burlington, Vt.) - A large field of runners, many in colorful costumes, spent the first morning of 2013 at a popular 5k "fun run" in Burlington, Vt., known as FirstRun.
Many participants wanted to start their year's fitness goals off on the right foot. "It wakes you up, so you're ready to go for the next whole year," chuckled Emily Wood of Burlington. "It's just a good start!"
Nick Cooper of Colchester, Vt., must have made a New Year’s resolution for speed, because he was the first person to cross the finish line, in about 16 minutes. "It's about as much fun as you can have running in freezing temperatures," he laughed.
The group RunVermont puts on FirstRun. This year's race also served as an unofficial kickoff, counting down to the silver anniversary for RunVermont's largest annual event.
"It won't be long before people are out pounding the pavement getting ready for the twenty-fifth anniversary of the marathon," noted RunVermont's executive director, Peter Delaney.
The Vermont City Marathon has grown to be the second-largest in New England in terms of marathon finishers, Delaney said, behind the Boston Marathon. About 3,600 marathoners and 4,500 relay runners take part in Burlington's Memorial Day weekend tradition, according to RunVermont's website.
The Vermont City Marathon is set for Sunday, May 26 this year. Registration for the full 26.2-mile marathon distance opened in November, 2012.
On January 1, the lottery opened for a place in the popular relay option for the event, which divvies up the 26.2 miles between teams of runners. "It's probably the biggest one-day sporting event in the state," Delaney said of the Vermont City Marathon. "We are well ahead of pace for registration. The race is going to fill up this year pretty early."
Runner Betty Lacharite told NECN she has never missed a New Year's Day FirstRun or a Vermont City Marathon, for all 25 years of their existence. Tuesday's FirstRun kicked off her marathon training. "Every year it gets better and better and bigger and bigger," Lacharite said. "My husband's going to do it and he's 81. Even if I have to drag him; he's going to do it!"
Race officials are expected to announce later this month that they have invited some of the big celebrities of the running world to participate in this year's marathon.
Delaney would not reveal to NECN the names of those special guests ahead of the late-January announcement, but he hinted that they are Olympic-caliber athletes. Past winners and race directors will also be invited, Delaney said.
The New Year's Day runners, including some dressed as fish, a horse, a Smurf, and even Elvis Presley, may just decide they want to keep running, with a goal of 26.2 miles in several months. "There are many runs to come," FirstRun winner Nick Cooper beamed.
For more information on the Vermont City Marathon, visit the website of RunVermont: http://www.runvermont.org/page.php?pid=1&pname=home