Organizers of the Vermont City Marathon announced Tuesday that the event will be scaled back next month, to alleviate pressure on the race’s medical team — whose day jobs have them still dealing with intense pressures from the COVID pandemic.
“The general health of the entire community is what we want to keep in mind,” Peter Delaney of RunVermont said.
RunVermont told participants in the Vermont City Marathon, which is set for Oct. 24, that there will be no 26.2 mile solo race through Burlington. There will, however, be a half marathon option and a relay for groups splitting that shorter distance.
RunVermont explained that the medical services required for a full marathon compared to a half marathon are night and day, so the nonprofit didn’t want to stretch its medical team even thinner than it already is.
“Most of them are EMTs or emergency room doctors — a lot of nurses — and they’ve all been on the front line for some time,” Delaney said. “And certainly, I think, fatigue is a consideration for those folks. They’re still needed, pretty vigilantly, on the front line as we speak today.”
Delaney said fewer medical personnel will be needed for a shorter race, and the physical toll on the bodies of race participants should be significantly less severe, too, meaning fewer medical needs.
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Fewer community volunteers will also be needed for the adjusted event, the organizers pointed out.
RunVermont said in its announcement that next month’s half marathon and relay runners do have to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative PCR test taken shortly before the event in order to take part.
Dr. Mark Levine, the commissioner of the Vermont Department of Health, is also a runner.
“The pandemic continues to present event organizers with very difficult choices,” Levine said in a statement reacting to word the event will be scaled back this year. “I appreciate [RunVermont] taking the pressures on the state’s frontline medical workers and responders into account, and factoring in the safety of all the runners and the community by having strict vaccination and testing requirements.”
COVID-19 has hamstrung the event before. It was postponed, then canceled, in 2020, and moved to Oct. 24 this year from its traditional Memorial Day weekend — using a simplified race course.
“I was bummed,” said Dan Barnes of Winooski, who is in training now to run the full Vermont City Marathon, which he said he was looking forward to as his first-ever marathon.
The change means Barnes and 1,200 other people who were registered for the full 26.2 mile race have a choice. They can run virtually, defer to next year’s event, run the half marathon in Burlington or participate instead in one of three full partner marathons — including one in Hartford, Connecticut.
“The options that they provided, one of them is two weeks earlier,” Barnes noted. “So I’d have to figure out how to adjust my training to accommodate that timeline. But I’m trying to run a marathon, not a half, so that [half marathon option] is not going to be me, there.”
For more information on the changes to the People’s United Bank Vermont City Marathon, visit this website.