Last weekend I had the honor of joining the Cabot Fit Team in Middlebury Vermont for the Middlebury Maple Run half marathon and relay race. The goal of the Cabot Fit Team is to promote wellness through nutrition and exercise. Cabot started the Fit Team in 2013, and since then has brought together nearly 30 fitness-focused food bloggers for running events around New England.
Disclosure: All expenses associated with this trip were paid for by Cabot.
This is our group of Cabot Fit Team bloggers, from left to right.
- Anne Mauney from Fannetastic Food
- Jess DeGore from DietitianJess
- Katie Webster from Healthy Seasonal Recipes
- Danielle Omar from Food Confidence
- Roni Noone from GreenLiteBites
I flew into Burlington from St. Louis Friday evening. At the airport, I met Anne from Fannetastic Food and Amanda, one of our hosts from Cabot. Amanda drove us about an hour to Middlebury in the signature red and black checkered Cabot Cheese Van.
Middlebury is a sweet little town in Vermont’s Champlain Valley. Otter Creek, the longest river in Vermont, passes through the heart of this historic little town of about 8,000 people. There are lots of beautiful, quirky old houses, buildings, and churches. It has a really cute downtown area with shop lined streets.
While in Middlebury, we stayed at the Swift House Inn, which is a former governor’s mansion built in 1814. I stayed in the Willard room, which was nice because it was at the end of the building, giving me a few extra windows and some extra privacy. It was a cozy room with a nice fire place and one of those really tall beds that you need to get a running start to jump up into.
After dropping off my luggage in my room, I went down to the lobby to meet the rest of the Fit Team, who arrived earlier that day, and Sara another one of our friendly Cabot hosts. We got to know one another, had cocktails, and sampled a lovely assortment of Cabot cheeses. Then, we headed over to the dining room (called Jessica’s) for dinner. I had some of the best crab cakes I’ve ever had, along with grilled asparagus and garlic mashed potatoes. Yum!
The next morning (Saturday) we piled in the Cabot van for a trip to Kayhart Brothers Dairy Farm for a farm tour. Kayhart Brothers Dairy spans across 1,800 acres in Vermont and New York. We were lucky enough to have Steve Kayhart take 2 hours out of his busy day to talk about his farm, show us around, and answer questions. This was one of my favorite parts of the trip because of all the adorable baby cows! It was obvious that these cute cows were well taken care of. That’s one of the things that Steve talked about. They want to ensure they have happy, healthy cows so they can produce the best quality milk.
After our farm tour, we got lunch from Noonie’s Deli. I got the Cape Codder sandwich. It was loaded with turkey, sliced apples, tomato, red onion, cheddar cheese, and cranberry mayo on thick sliced bread. So good!
After lunch, we had a little free time in Middlebury. The group walked around and did some shopping. We even helped Katie pick out the perfect dress for an upcoming wedding.
After our exploring, we headed off to dinner at American Flatbread. They make all-natural pizzas in a wood-fire oven. Our group got four different pizzas to share. My favorite was this bacon apple cheddar, made with Cabot cheddar of course. We also had an amazing Evolution Salad with a ginger-tamari vinaigrette.
Sunday was race day. The race started at 9:00 AM, which is pretty late for most runs. But, the weather in New England is unpredictable. It could have been warm and sunny or cold and rainy. That day, it was cold and rainy. I think it was in the mid to upper forties and it was sprinkling most of the morning. Which, honestly, once I started running, I didn’t mind it at all.
There was a last minute change of plans and instead of running the full half marathon, I ran a relay with Jess. She ran the first 7 miles, and I ran the last 6, which ended up being a really cool experience. I got to watch everyone line up and take off as the race began. I waited at the relay exchange area with the other second-half relay racers. Then, when Jess showed up, I got to start at mile seven on fresh legs. And, I got to cross the finish line, which is so fun, especially for someone like me who hasn’t run a lot of races.
The race was a scenic course with views of the Green Mountains and Adirondacks. There were farms, and pastures, and even lots of horses to look at during the run. The course was a mix of paved and hard-packed dirt roads. I thought it was quite hilly. There were definitely a lot more hills than I’m used to running in the midwest. The really challenging part for me was around mile 11. It seemed like that whole mile was uphill. :0 But, I made it!
My goal for this race was not to be fast. It was just to run the race without stopping to walk. And, I did that! So, I’m happy! Although, I have to say, I was inspired by all those runners who were there to run a fast race. As I started at mile 7, I was joining those runners who were running the full half marathon, and many of them were flying past me. It was incredible! I was so impressed by the level of commitment and training that must have gone into their speed and endurance throughout that race. I’m definitely going to be working on my speed this summer.
After a little rest and recuperation, our group had a cheese tasting and pairing. Our Cabot hosts had prepared lovely cheese boards for each of us with 6 of their cheeses. We tried:
- Bridport Creamery Farmstead Cheese Curd – reminded me of mozzarella
- Sweet Rowan Storm – tasted like a very soft and creamy blue cheese
- Neighborly Farms Raw Milk Cheddar – mild cheddar made with raw milk and aged for 6-8 months
- Landaff Cheese – tangy and buttery
- Cabot Clothbound Cheddar – crumbly, nutty, and tangy
- Cabot Artisan Cheddar – aged 3 years, tangy and delicious
Our cheeses were paired with some fantastic local beer, wine, and cider.
- Lincoln Peak La Crescent
- Citizen Cider Unified Press
- Lawson’s Sip of Sunshine IPA
- Lincoln Peak Marquette
- 14th Star Maple Breakfast Stout
During our cheese tasting, we learned a little more about Cabot Creamery. Cabot is owned by 1,200 Dairy Farm Families throughout New York and New England. They manage four plants in three states, and employ over 1,000 people. Cabot makes a variety of cheddar cheeses, premium butter, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, sour cream, and now whey protein powder. Over the years, Cabot has won every major award for taste; including the World’s Best Cheddar!
One of my favorite take-aways from this session was that there is a cabot product finder. Just enter your zip code on this website and it will tell you what stores carry Cabot products in your area, and even which products are available. I was surprised to learn that I have access to more Cabot products than I realized, like Cabot Greek yogurt, butter, and several flavors of cheddar.
I would like to say a big THANK YOU to Sara, Amanda, Caisil, and the rest of the Cabot crew for bringing me on this trip, teaching me about Cabot and dairy farming, and letting me run in such a fun race! I had a great time as a part of the Cabot Fit Team!