With the Mad Marathon less than two weeks away there are runners, walkers, volunteers, business owners, nonprofit leaders and, of course, race director Dori Ingalls and her team putting the final touches on everything from training schedules to travel plans.

So many things must come together for a successful race, but it's the details that are typically remembered, like what is served to athletes at the finish line.

"Every year at the Mad Marathon we serve our apple cider along with our cider donuts. Now, most people know that fresh apple cider is nature's own recovery fuel, with lots of potassium and other great stuff to help regenerate your body after a long, hard run. What most people don't realize, however, is the popularity of our cider donuts with the endurance athletes out there. It must be a combination of the irresistible taste along with the freedom of guilt they must have after a long, hard run," said Paul Brown, co-owner of Cold Hollow Cider.

In addition, Mehuron's Supermarket has been an important supporter and sponsor of the finish line with donated bananas, oranges and bagels to help runners refuel.

Nutritional tips for runners include avoiding or limiting exotic or high-fiber foods the week before the race and maintaining a similar intake of fats, carbs and proteins. Maintaining hydration is especially important. For most people who finish under four to five hours, water is the most important nutrient.

"A few things to keep in mind for race day: It can take two or more hours for your stomach to empty so time your race morning meal to allow for most of your breakfast to be out of your stomach by race start at 7 a.m. I would advise a light breakfast at 5 a.m.; eating and/or drinking what has worked well for you in training and in past races," said Dr. Robert Laird, Mad Marathon medical doctor for five years.

Laird continued, "Your most important race day nutrient is water. Solids are not needed by most runners finishing in under five to six hours and added salt such as in Gatorade is most important for those on the course for longer than four to five hours. If you experience stomach cramps, bloating, vomiting, or diarrhea, you should slow your pace, even walk or stop in the shade and rest. If the symptoms persist consider stopping at an aid station or asking a race official to contact medical."

"The Mad Marathon course is beautiful but demanding. We hope you experience the thrill of sharing a spectacular course on a beautiful day in Vermont with a dedicated group of other runners, walkers and volunteers with the full cooperation of your mind and body," said Laird.

Those who don't run but want to be part of the festivities may consider participating in Run Around the Shops during Mad Marathon week. Participants can pick up a flier at the General Wait House or any participating Mad River Green shop and "run around the shops" to have their flier punched at four of the six participating shops between Wednesday, July 8, and Mad Marathon morning. Then drop the punched flier off at any of the shops (before 9 a.m. Sunday) to be entered to win a gift basket with prizes valued at $250! This event is sponsored by Bisbee's, The Collection, Peanut & Mouse, Patricia Lynne Clothing, Three Mountain Cafe and Whippletree Designs.

Runners from all over are making their way to the Mad River Valley, but many don't have far to travel.

"My husband and I committed to the Mad Marathon when it first started five years ago to participate in an event that would be great for The Valley. Then we were presented with the opportunity to run for the British Soldiers Fund since members of my husband's family are in the British military. The fund actually benefits U.S. veterans as well. We run each year because of Dori! What she has created in The Valley is amazing and we both love the challenge of trying to improve year by year," said Tanya Worden of Waitsfield.

Valley residents and visitors can expect brief road closures during the marathon. Road closures and times are listed below.

For a full listing of the weekend events, sponsors, nonprofits, etc., go to www.madmarathon.com.