MANCHESTER - Three weeks ago Danielle Fogarty of North Bennington was just yards from completing her third marathon when she saw the explosions near the finish line on Boylston Street at the Boston Marathon.

"Where I stopped it was yards from the finish. I don't know, 20 yards something like that," said Fogarty. "The finish line was right there. Not at all far away. I had passed the 26 mile mark. I think the full [course] is 26 miles 385 yards and I probably ran 370 yards and was stopped. So, the only thing between the finish line and me was the officers stopping me."

Given the tragic events of the day, Fogarty was one of several runners in the Boston Marathon who were unable to complete the course. About three weeks ago, it was announced that The Shires of Vermont Marathon - which will take place on Sunday, May 19 - would waive the registration fee for anyone who had competed in the Boston Marathon and did not get to finish due to the explosions.

Since then, somewhere between 30 to 40 who were unable to finish The Boston Marathon have registered to compete in The Shires Marathon which winds its way from North Bennington to the finish line in Manchester at the Hildene Meadows.

According to Shires Race Director Robert Pini, about 400 people have registered for the marathon this year - up significantly over last year when about 300 people competed.

"We're having folks come from 35 states [and] across the country to be here. So, for them it's a different marathon. It's one in Vermont. That means a lot," said Pini. "It's one that's getting a reputation for being well organized, well supported, having great fans. These are the things a marathoner looks for."

Pini said that not only are people coming from all over the country for the race, but some are even coming from out of the country. Among some of the nations that will be represented with at least one runner on Sunday are Canada, Great Britain and Israel, Pini said.

Sunday's race - which is a USATF-certified, Boston-qualifier marathon, according to the marathon's website - will be the third annual Shires Marathon. The marathon was created by David Durphy - a member of The Batten Kill Valley Runners - in 2011 to mark the 250th anniversary of the shires, also known as Bennington County.

This will be the third time that Fogarty has competed in the event and she expects this one to be a little different than the previous two.

"I think that there will be something very special about tipping our hat to Boston and everybody who suffered."

The two previous Shires Marathons have been very different in terms of weather.

The first one took place in the pouring rain, Fogarty said, and the second one was exceptionally hot. This time around, Fogarty said she is hoping for ideal conditions - temperatures somewhere in the mid fifties, cloudy and "possibly a very light mist."

Throughout the race not only are there water stations every one to two miles, but Pini said that they have an excellent medical support staff.

"We have one of the best medically supported races I know of for a race our size and that's thanks to doctor Judy Orton," said Pini. "She is the doctor at Green Mountain Pediatrics and a runner and a planner. So, it's tremendously good support and it's needed because you don't know what kind of results you're going to have."

Pini said that the first year, due to the conditions of the race, some people began to get cold and suffer from hypothermia after completing the race. Fogarty said that the race is also unique because of the hills around the 10 1/2 to 13 mile mark. Making the portion of the race somewhat more difficult Fogarty said is that it takes place on dirt road where there are not any fans to urge on the runners.

"In that two and a half to three mile stretch you have significant hills and you don't have people cheering you on," said Fogarty. "It's just you and the hill."

Still Fogarty believes that The Shires of Vermont Marathon is great event.

"It's a wonderful local Bennington County event and the community really does come out," she said.

In talking with several runners, Pini said he has also gotten the impressions that several of them really enjoy it.

"The people who come here and experience it are ecstatic," said Pini. "I can't compare it to anything else in my life. It's just so overwhelmingly positive and inspiring. People are just really, very, very happy they have come and I think that's a huge part of what drives the marathon tourism if you will is that people can visit a place and never really get to see it."

Several roads will be temporarily closed on Sunday during the race. In Bennington Gypsy Lane will be closed from 7:50 to 8:05 a.m. and Walloomsac Road will be closed from 7:55 to 8:12 a.m. In Shaftsbury - with the exception of emergency and race vehicles - Cider Mill Road, Maple Hill Road and Old Depot road will be closed to nonresidents for about two hours each.

Old Depot Road in Arlington will be closed to nonresidents from 10:15 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and River Road - from Route 7A to Richville Road - in Manchester Village will be closed to nonresidents from 10:15 a.m. until 2:30 p.m.

The Southwestern Vermont Medical Center is the Gold Sponsor for the event. The race is organized by The Batten Kill Valley Runners of Arlington and benefits United Counseling Service of Bennington County - the community mental health agency.

For more information visit the marathon's website at www.shiresofvermontmarathon.com.

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