The New Bedford Half Marathon – A Grand New England Racing Tradition in a Historic Seaport City
Welcome to the 32nd annual New Bedford Half Marathon, the second of seven races of the USATF-New England Grand Prix. Get ready to lace up on March 15, 2009 for one of New England’s Premier Half Marathons and see why it continues to be a memorable racing tradition. Rated in the top twenty-five half marathons in the USA by Runner’s World Magazine, this race enjoys a fine reputation as an event that caters to runners who expect quality.
Posted Monday, 16 February, 2009
The New Bedford Half Marathon is no ordinary half marathon. It was alive and well long before half marathons became so popular. It owes its longevity in part, to a vibrant seaport city that embraces the race and welcomes runners as friends. Add top notch organization and amenities, along with a fast loop course through the heart of New Bedford, a city rich in seafaring history, and you have the makings of a classic New England race with incredible staying power. This legendary half marathon is further distinguished by a long list of esteemed runners and record holders.
The City of New Bedford is one of the world’s most famous whaling era seaports and the number one fishing port in America. This wonderfully diverse city is a culturally rich community with a proud past, present, and future. The city’s national park status and authentic working waterfront add to its broad appeal. Long recognized as the inspiration behind Herman Melville’s story of Moby Dick, New Bedford is rich in maritime history. Be sure to take time to visit the National Park and the world famous Whaling Museum. The New Bedford Half Marathon is certainly an important element of the city’s heritage. The race has always benefited from the full support of the city and the backing of citizens; and police and public works officials have contributed to the race’s success.
It All Begins Here
The course is a fast, certified half marathon loop with two major hills. The first hill beginning just after three miles and the second beginning at the twelve mile mark. And because this is the second race of the 25th USATF New England Grand Prix, the excitement and anticipation is sure to be heightened on race day. The start (11:00 a.m.) and the finish are close to one another on Purchase Street overlooking the scenic harbor in the center of the city. City Hall and the New Bedford Art Museum are nearby.
Stay the Course
Heading north on Purchase Street before turning northwest on Nauset Street, the course then heads west along Hathaway Road before turning south for a pleasant flat stretch on Rockdale Avenue. Runners then pass Button Wood Park on their right as they head south.
Get ready for some lovely harbor views when reaching Cove Road. This is followed by a wonderful scenic loop along the peninsula to Fort Rodman/Fort Fort Taber via West Rodney French Boulevard. It is fitting that the famed Butler Flats Lighthouse and Clark’s Point Lighthouse are then in view. The carefully restored lighthouses are proud symbols of New Bedford’s rich maritime history, and they continue to welcome seafarers home.
The course heads north on County Street, with an upgrade just beyond 12 miles. This section is lined with historic buildings and plenty of spectators. A few turns later, runners head in to the final stretch, heading south back to Purchase Street.
After 31 years, it comes as no surprise that the New Bedford Half Marathon boasts a long list of course records and outstanding, competitive finishes. Topping the list with the course record is Ingrid Kristiansen of Norway (1:08:32) in 1989. She is the only woman to ever break one hour ten minutes here, setting a then world record in the process. Geoff Smith, famous British marathoner, set the men’s course record of 1:02:05 in 1986. Laurie Binder holds the women’s masters record of 1:17:10 set in 1988. Pierre Levies holds the men’s master record of 1:04:56. Other notable winners include Janis Klecker, Dave Dunham, Lynn Jennings, Lisa Senatore, John Gregorek, Peg Donovan, Cathy O’Brien, Bobby Doyle, Jane Welzel, Larry Olsen, Patti Catalano and many more.
In 2008, 1,667 runners participated! Derese Denibodba won with a time of 66:29 almost two minutes faster than Boston’s Ryan Carrara. Heidi Westerling led the women’s race, finishing 65th overall and winning with a time of 74: 30. The race was an Olympic Trial warm-up for Molly Tabor who came through in 5th place for the women with a time of 77:16. The Boston Athletic Association dominated the team competition, winning the men’s race with a combined time of 5: 47:57 and the women’s race in 3:49: 47.
There are cash awards for both individuals and USATF-NE teams. Individual cash awards will be given to the top three women and men in the open and masters groups. Plus there will be bonuses for women breaking 1:16 and for men breaking 1:06. Cash prizes are also awarded for the top local male and female runners. Team cash awards go six deep in the open category, four in the masters, three for the seniors, and the top veterans 60 plus. For non-cash awards there will be five year age groups through 70 plus and 18 and under. See the race website for complete details.
A great New England race deserves a great post race celebration. Share your race story with friends as you enjoy excellent fish chowder and fish sandwiches that are a longstanding post race celebration in New Bedford. There will also be juices, fruit, bagels, yogurt and other treats.
The 2009 USATF – New England Grand Prix
This exciting seven race series is in its twenty- fifth year and is an integral part of New England road running. The New Bedford Half Marathon has been a major part of the series tradition. This year’s line up includes one new event, several repeat races and a couple of returnees.
Feb. 22 Jones Town and Country 10 Mile, Amherst, Massachusetts
March15 New Bedford Half Marathon, New Bedford, Massachusetts
May16 Bedford Rotary 12K, Bedford, New Hampshire
June 7 Rhody 5K, Lincoln, Rhode Island
Sept.5 The Ollie 5 Road Race, South Boston, Massachusetts
Sept.20 The Lone Gull 10K, Gloucester, Massachusetts
Oct. 18 Bay State Marathon, Lowell, Massachusetts
You can register on line, by mail or in person on Race Weekend. Registration will be held on Saturday March 14, from noon to four at the YMCA, 25 South Water Street, New Bedford, and on race day from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. at Sgt. Carney Academy, Elm Street, New Bedford. See www.newbedfordhalfmarathon.com for complete registration details.
The New Bedford Half Marathon is hosted by The Friendly Sons of Saint Patrick, a New Bedford based Irish-American cultural organization which is actively involved in the community by way of food drives, toy drives, student scholarships and other charitable activities.