DERBY, VT - The Dandelion Festival could not have picked a more beautiful weekend in which to celebrate our area's magnificence.
Canadian marathoner Christian Vachon from Magog, Quebec, was the winner of the half-marathon, completing the course in a time of 1:23:49, well ahead of the competition. Christian's closest competitor was Russell Primeau, who finished second with a time of 1:29:14.
It was a befitting victory for Vachon, considering the generous donation his charity, the Christian Vachon Foundation, made to IROC and the event.
Previously, he has run in the Canadian TransRockies ultra-marathon in its rigorous course of some 113 miles in Coloradoâ€™s high altitude. If that's not enough, he also completed the San Serra Marathon, which lasts some six days and crosses a desert.
Of his run on Saturday, he said, with the assistance of his friend, trainer and translator Monge Patrice of Montreal, â€śI very much enjoyed the back country course; it was so beautiful and everyone was very, very nice along the way.â€ť
Christian's charity and it's annual run has faced challenges. Founded in 2006, he was the lone runner that first year, raising some $10,000 single handedly. Since then, the event has grown exponentially. This past year saw 100 teams of six persons each run in the race, helping him to raise a staggering $100,000. The money goes to assist disadvantaged youth in his home of Maggog, Quebec. This year, some of that money has been donated to IROC, and Christian is working in conjunction with the organization.
Among other winners on Saturday were Brie Pike Sprenger, who placed first among the women in the half-marathon with a time of 1:40:59. Marcella Vieratis was just behind her coming in second at 1:41:12. Anthony Moccia was the 10K winner among the men with a time of 42:25, while Liz Montgomery led the women with a time of 49:29. The team of two relay was won by "Dark White," which posted a time of 1:24:27. The team of five relay was won by the "Eagle Eaters," with a time of 1:27:54. Finally, among the walkers, it was Donal Cronk taking first with a time of 1:23:34
The festivities were concluded on Sunday with an intimate albeit rocking performance by the Bayley-Hazen Boys accompanied by the talented Patrick Ross on fiddle. With the sun ablaze overhead and perspiration dampening their collective brow, the band played almost entirely from their personal song book, numbers they have written.
The material tested Ross' seemingly endless abilities on fiddle, but he managed to keep up as if he had been afforded ample time to rehearse with the group.
It was a postcard perfect Vermont weekend, setting the bar high for a summer that we hope will have many more great weekends to come.