The Maple Leaf Half Marathon is once again a fixture on the late summer calendar in Manchester and the mountains! Beginning in the late 1970s, the Maple Leaf had grown in stature and appeal, attracting world-class athletes and crowds of over 1,300 runners. The brainchild of local restaurateur, Guy Thomas (Zoey's), the Maple Leaf was nationally famous, being seen as a tune-up for the New York Marathon. In time, the race was organized by a number of other individuals and groups, but faded from the local scene a few years ago.
Now, the Manchester & the Mountains Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Battenkill Valley Runners, Stratton Mountain, and the Manchester Lions Club have revived this major attraction to our fall calendar of events. The goal is to revive the race to its former glory, making Manchester the center of New England's running interest every September and return the Maple Leaf into a first class event.
The Maple Leaf will begin at the Manchester Parks and Recreation Center and snake its way along backcountry roads, over to route 7 and then back to the Recreation Center for the finish at a certified 13.1 miles. At the same time, there will be a 5-Kilometer run/walk for runners/walkers who aren't up to the challenge of a half marathon. A celebration will be held with food and beverages, music and an awards ceremony immediately following the races. Any profits from the day's events will go toward funding Manchester Lions' charities in the Northshire.
For over 50 years the Manchester Lions have lived up to their motto, "We Serve." The Lions focus on helping those in need: families and individuals with medical problems, school and educational programs, youth scholarships, area recreational needs. Lions have traditionally been interested in those with sight or hearing deficiencies. Seventy years ago, Helen Keller challenged Lions to be her "Knights for the blind", and we have taken the challenge. Worldwide, millions of people have benefited from Lions sponsored eye care programs. Locally, we fill the unmet needs of our deserving neighbors. Lions are your neighbors, both men and women, young and old. The Lions are proud to say that all revenues from Lions' projects are spent on those in need.