The Stratton Faxon New Haven Road Race: A Labor Day gem
After a run- and fun-filled weekend, some folks - upon returning to work - suffer from the dreaded Monday morning blues. While we don't have a cure-all for the bothersome blues - other than quitting your job - we can offer a guaranteed blues buster for the first Monday morning in September: run the Stratton Faxon New Haven Road Race.
Posted Wednesday, 27 June, 2007
For many people Labor Day marks the unofficial end of summer. But just as Patriots Day is synonymous with the Boston Marathon, Labor Day means it's Stratton Faxon New Haven Road Race time for thousands of runners.
Celebrating its 30th year and proud host of the U.S. men's and women's 20K National Championship, the Stratton Faxon New Haven Road Race takes place on Monday, Sept. 3, on the quaint New Haven Green.
Labor Day in New Haven kicks off with the first of three races, a half-mile kids' run (for ages 6-12) at 8:15 a.m., followed by the 5K and 20K races starting at 8:40 a.m.
"It's a beautiful setting in a historic area," said John Bysiewicz, the race's longtime director, of the races' start at the New Haven Green. "It's an old New England town green with beautiful old trees, a couple of blocks from Yale (University), in the heart of the city. It's a great place to stage a race."
And the race courses are great too. All three race routes - the kids' run, 5K, and 20K - are not only strikingly scenic but are, in a word, flat. Okay, the 20K has two minor hills.
"It's a very fast course with lots of competition," said Bradford's (Mass.) Dave Dunham of the 20K, which he has run several times including a splendid seventh-place finish (1:00:52) in 1992.
The 20K course passes by picturesque Yale University and its many historic buildings noted for distinctive architecture. The course continues through waterfront areas with charming views and large city parks with few turns.
"There are big crowds (along the route) and plenty of people (to run with) at all paces," said the prolific Dunham, who has run nearly 1,000 races in his career. "I would highly recommend this race, especially if you are looking for a fast time." And look to have a terrific time both during and after the race.
"There will be over a dozen bands along the (20K) course and lots of spectators," Bysiewicz said, adding that two bands played along the 5K course last year. "We have water (aid) stations and clocks at every mile. It's a well-managed race."
The music continues after the races at the post-race party on the New Haven Green, which includes tents with ample food, a popular dance band, a complimentary meal for runners, plenty to drink and much more.
A race for everyone
While some races are bigger (as in number of participants) and have more history (been around longer) than the Stratton Faxon New Haven Road Race, few events can match the race's ability not only to attract high-quality fields but also to treat the average runner right while maintaining the feel of a quintessential New England road race.
As a testament to the race's quality, the Stratton Faxon New Haven Road Race has been touted perennially by "Runner's World" magazine as one of the country's top road races and was selected as "Race of the Year" by New England Runner magazine in 1998. And, over the years, the race has raised thousands of dollars for numerous charities.
"I was treated great when I ran New Haven," Dunham said. "It was an expertly run race. They treated everyone well, from world-class to back-of-the-packers."
"The community takes a lot of pride in this event," Bysiewicz said, noting that the City of New Haven has sponsored the race, which drew over 5,000 runners last year, since its inception in 1978. Bysiewicz also said a whopping 19 runners have run all 29 New Haven Road Races.
While the Stratton Faxon New Haven Road Race is most surely a "runner's race" with its awesome race-day amenities including a custom-designed T-shirt, it is also the U.S. men's and women's 20K National Championship with over $36,000 in prize and bonus money offered.
Last year, California's Ryan Hall (59:29) and Oregon's Marla Runyan (68:28) captured the men's and women's championship. And since Bill Rodgers won the inaugural New Haven Road Race in 1978, the race has been won by a who's who of distance running greats. Khalid Khannouchi (57:37) and Colleen De Reuck (1:05:11) both set world and course records at New Haven in 1998, and Meb Keflezighi and Marla Runyan set American 20K records in 2003, the race's 25th anniversary. In 1987 the inaugural 5K was won by Rodgers, who grew up in the Nutmeg State. The 5K now attracts over 2,000 runners.
The Stratton Faxon New Haven Road Race hosts one of New England's largest and best runner's expos. This year's is scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 2, the day before the race, from 1 to 5 p.m., at the New Haven City Hall (for directions to New Haven City Hall visit: http://www.newhavenroadrace.org/html/directions.html#nh%20city%20hall).
Runners may pick up race packets at the free expo, which includes exhibits with fitness equipment, footwear and much more. Last year’s expo included cooking demonstrations, yoga classes and walking tours of the Yale University campus. Like this 30th anniversary Labor Day race, the 2007 Stratton Faxon New Haven Road Race expo promises to be its best ever.
In addition, a clinic featuring talks and presentations by top American runners is also held. And you may even leave the expo/clinic with a prize as thousands of dollars' worth of prizes are randomly given away.
The Omni New Haven Hotel at Yale, a four-diamond hotel at 155 Temple Street, will serve as the host hotel for the 2007 Stratton Faxon New Haven Road Race. The Omni is located a few stride lengths from the race start at the New Haven Town Green.
The hotel will offer special room rates of $99 per night for road race participants on Saturday, Sept. 1, and Sunday, Sept. 2. To contact the hotel, call 203-772-6664 or fax at 203-974-6780. For information on The Omni New Haven Hotel at Yale, visit its website: http://www.omnihotels.com/FindAHotel/NewHavenYale.aspx.
Labor Day in New Haven
Located about 140 miles from Boston and 75 miles from New York City, New Haven is Connecticut's arts and entertainment capital and also its educational capital. Hence it's a happening place - just to play it safe you may want to bring both a Yankees and Red Sox cap for the trip - to spend Labor Day weekend and run the 2007 Stratton Faxon New Haven Road Race, among the pantheon of top races in the country.
"It's a fun race for everyone," Dave Dunham said.
And one that promises - on its 30th anniversary - to be the biggest and best yet. Monday morning blues? Fuggedaboutit.
For information on all aspects of the Stratton Faxon New Haven Road Race, including on-line registration, visit the race's website: http://www.newhavenroadrace.org/