The Vermont City Marathon has a very spectator friendly course. My fiance was easily able to see me run by 6 times. The course is also a bored runner friendly course, because there are no multi-lap segments. You do cross over the same points more than once, but only once are you going in the same direction and that is for less than a quarter mile total. There are 5 places where you actually double back on a road you went in the other direction on, one of which is a few miles long. The course is not flat by any means, but there are only two large hills. The biggest uphill stretch is going by Battery Park around mile 15, and the biggest downhill stretch is around mile 21½. The rest of the course is a series of rolling uphills and downhills where your split time will reflect the hill, but your body doesn’t necessarily notice the grade. There is only the one downhill stretch where you worry about the jarring that you are getting. Here is what you can specifically expect as you move along the course:
The first mile is slightly uphill as you begin a clockwise loop through downtown Burlington. The next two miles are very quick, however. Towards the end of mile 3 you run up Church Street, which is paved with bricks but is very spectator friendly spot to watch from.
At mile 3 you are passing backwards along Pearl Street from along the way you had started, and make a right turn onto Battery Street to pass over the starting line again. At the end of Battery Street, you begin an out and back that is just shy of 5 miles along a closed highway. The runners going in opposite directions are seperated by a grassy median. This stretch goes under a few nice bridges, and there are some trees along one side that provide a short amount of shade, but for the most part this is wide open to the sun.
After you return to the starting line, you again go down Pearl Street and make another clockwise loop, but this time you begin the loop by turning down Church Street. This loop is about 6 miles long and turns back north near the southern end of Burlington Bay as it progresses through some neighborhoods.
At about mile 12½ you pass onto a paved trail through Oakledge Park along the Lake Champlain bike path. It provides a short bit of much needed shade as you pass under the trees. You continue along the bike path through another 2 miles, crossing right next to the lake for a good part of it. You have an excellent view of the Adirondacks in New York.
At about mile 14½ you are off the trail and at the bottom of Battery Street, which has the steepest climb of the day. It was early enough in the race for me to not really notice it and it is only a few hundred meters long.
Before getting to the start line again, you turn off and begin a large counter clockwise loop through the northern side of the city that brings you almost to the finish line.
Most of the course has traffic either shut out completely or seperated enough that it is a non issue. The 2 miles along Northern Avenue has some cones to seperate you from traffic, but the running lane is not really wide enough for a few runners and wheelchair racers. I would not want to be the wheelchair racer going downhill through here on the traffic side of the cones. For the runners, there were no problems with actually being near the traffic.
After mile 17 you pull off of Northern Avenue and do a small 1 mile loop through a neighborhood where a lot of people like to have parties and barbeques and cheer people on. There was one inconsiderate guy mowing his lawn.
Once you leave that small loop, you turn into Leddy Park. There are gu packets at the start of the park, but the water station isn’t for a quarter to a half mile after descending the hill into the parking lot for the park. There is a quarter mile stretch leaving the park that was very soft and had horrible footing as you went over a trail. The muddiest part had a bunch of pallettes with a rug over them to run over, but I can not imagine that that was an easy stretch for the wheel chairs and is an easy place to turn an ankle.
Miles 19 through 21½ lead you back to Northern Avenue until you get back to the bike path, which you will now travel south on until the finish. The road to get you to the bike path is a very steep downhill, with quite a few pot holes. The grass on the side is rutted and not worth jumping on to slow yourself down.
Once you get on the bike path, the final 10 kilometers are either flat or downhill and for most of it you have your choice of a wide paved path or a narrow strip of hard packed dirt if your legs have taken too much of a pounding. The footing was great on both. You get plenty of shade off and on, and get near the lake off and on. For the most part you can not see Lake Champlain from the path, however. There were a few spots where dumb kids kept trying to cross in front of the runners, but only one of them was old enough to know better. There are plenty of water stops and a lot of encouraging fans along the last few miles.
Mile 25 brings you back to Battery Park. Mile 26 was the only mile that was not marked, and it is right before you turn off of the bike path and onto the grass for a fast finish where you loop back towards the north for the last quarter mile. There are a ton of fans that encourage a good sprint finish.