Although we here in the Mad River Valley choose to live a simpler, less commercialized existence by saying NO to fast food franchises, hotel chains and even traffic signals, ten years ago we enthusiastically said YES to hosting the Mad Marathon, Mad Half & Relays each July. The event has attracted runners and their families from all 50 states and 34 countries and has been named one of Runner’s World Magazine’s “Top Ten Bucket List Marathons in the World” three times, a Vermont Chamber of Commerce Vermont Top Ten Summer Event for three years, and named to the Race Rave Bucket List along with several other awards.
The inaugural Mad Marathon was run in July 2011. Members of the Marketing Committee of the Mad River Valley Chamber of Commerce approached me, the founding and still current Race Director, to stage a running event or marathon during the weekend following July 4th that year. It was intended and continues to be a deliberate economic shot in the arm during a week when the Valley’s visitor count is traditionally down. Ten years later it was still working. The world has taken notice of these exceptional races. In an era full of Sprint Triathlons and “Tough Mudder” style events, the longevity and vitality of the Mad Marathon is phenomenal.
Then the road got bumpy. Unable to seek grants or to offer tax advantages to donors, the for-profit version of the Mad Marathon, Mad Half & Relays was totally dependent on registration fees and a limited number of sponsorships. With the sudden COVID-19 related cancellation of the 2020, Tenth Anniversary in-person races and the near total cessation of this year’s revenue streams, the survival of the enterprise was at stake. Same expenses, 95% less income. Not a good combination. The situation was so dire, then when we were ultimately found to be ineligible for federal or state assistance, permanently cancelling the Mad Marathon, Mad Half & Relays seemed to be the only responsible course of action for us. However, a coalition of runners, running legends, the chamber, community leaders and friends recognized that the Mad Marathon Races are a critically important community asset worth preserving. In response a new nonprofit, 501(c)(3) named Mad Valley Sports was created.
The objective and purpose of Mad Valley Sports is to promote health and wellness in the Mad River Valley through support, operation and management of sporting related educational, recreational and social events including the Mad Marathon, Mad Half & Relays.
A committed and experienced board of directors joined our team:
- Dori Ingalls- President
- Robert Laird, MD – Vice President
- Ian Sweet- Treasurer
- Mark Lichterman, JD, MPH- Secretary
- Bart Yasso-Trustee
- Kate Williams-Trustee
- Edward Read- Trustee
This year’s Mad Marathon, Mad Half & Relays was moved from July to September 12th, but in 2022 the race will return to the Sunday following July 4th (July 10th). The goal is to grow this extraordinary community weekend of events along with adding more recreational opportunities in the Mad River Valley, the wonderful place we call home.
Eric Friedman, Executive Director of the Mad River Valley Chamber of Commerce said, “The Mad Marathon epitomizes what the Mad River Valley is all about. Runners and their friends and families are welcomed to a race destination that is unlike any other. It truly is America’s most beautiful marathon. The Mad River Valley offers spectacular scenery, an authentic vibe and a genuine sense of community that combine to exude a palpable sense of place. The marathon is perfectly scaled to the area is important to our community both economically and spiritually.”
I believe he’s right, and I hope you’re as excited as we are to take the next step in this journey. Learn more about Mad Valley Sports here, and I hope to see you back out for our events this fall.