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home > races/results > usa: massachusetts > tufts health plan 10k for women: start strong, finish stronger!

Tufts Health Plan 10K for Women: Start Strong, Finish Stronger!
On Columbus Day, October 12, 2009, women of all ages and abilities will converge on Boston Common to experience the camaraderie and sense of empowerment that comes from running the Tufts Health Plan 10K for Women through the streets of Boston and Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Tufts Health Plan 10K for Women: Start Strong, Finish Stronger!


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By Linda Glass Fechter
Posted Sunday, 4 October, 2009

This longstanding New England tradition—one of the nation’s largest women-only races--is something you must experience to understand the camaraderie and empowerment that comes from running with 7,000 other women.

Olympic gold medalist Joan Benoit Samuelson--Tufts Health Plan’s official race spokesperson and three-time 10K for Women winner--will be one of them.

This race evokes powerful feelings. It’s a tradition designed to inspire women of all ages and fitness levels to set and achieve their own health and wellness goals.

The theme of the 10K for Women—Start Strong, Finish Stronger—applies to so many
of the race participants, from a teenager on her first run with her mother to those women who have ran for all 32 years of the race. These women have all stepped up to the start line for different reasons but once that gun sounds – they become energized. They are energized by the camaraderie they feel from their fellow runners and each of them serves as an inspiration to each other. Together they feel the triumph of crossing the finish line and achieving their goals.

The power and endurance of this event, first run in 1977 (as the Bonne Bell Mini Marathon) matches that of its participants. Race founders had the vision and foresight to create an event to celebrate the female runner when very few women were running. Today, the race has grown in stature to its present-day status as the Tufts Health Plan 10K for Women, a premiere women’s race.

The Tufts Health Plan 10K for Women, which is also the USA Women’s 10K Championship, is a daylong event that includes an aerobic warm up, a post-race cool down, and a 1K for Kids led by Joan Benoit Samuelson.

The Health & Fitness Pavilion showcases the latest health and fitness-related products and services. In conjunction with the race, Tufts Health Plan will present a fourth $10,000 grant to the American Health Association, part of a multi-year commitment to the AHA.

So come to the Boston Common on Monday, October 12. Bring your mom, sister, daughter, aunt or friend, and experience what it’s like to run together. Woman-power will carry you through the 6.2 miles all the way to the finish line.

Something for young “runners”
The race celebrates women, and children play an important role in the lives of many of the participants.

The race organizers and its’ sponsors believe it’s never too early to instill the importance of healthy living in children. So the 1K for Kids on Boston Common, led by Joan Benoit Samuelson, offers children the opportunity to also Start Strong, Finish Stronger. Samuelson has inspired generations of women to be their best, so there’s no one better to lead children in what could be their first and most memorable race.

After the event, participants can enjoy a healthy snack, get their face painted and more! So be sure to bring your family with you on race day to enjoy the festivities and, more important, to cheer you on to your strongest 10K for Women ever!

Celebrate Women’s’ Strength at the Health & Fitness Pavilion.
Runners can sample and purchase a variety of goods and services from dozens of race sponsors and vendors, many of whom are leading brands in the health and fitness industry. There will be food and beverages, clothing and accessories, and fitness-related activities for the whole family.

Determination: The Marie Fitzherbert Award
Unique to this race is the Marie Fitzherbert Award for Perseverance. Marie Fitzherbert ran the Tufts Health Plan 10K for Women for 27 consecutive years, never missing a race from 1977 to 2003.

She persevered even while undergoing chemotherapy.

In honor of Marie’s determination and perseverance, this award is given to a runner with that same commitment to health, fitness, family, involvement in the community, and perseverance through adversity.

Last year’s winner was Terri Butler of Westborough, Massachusetts. The 2009 winner will be announced at the race.

If you think you may qualify for the Marie Fitzherbert Award, e-mail the details of your personal journey that had led you to the Tufts Health Plan 10K for Women to by Friday, September 11, 2009.

The Web site invites women to explain why they run. A submission from runner Lisa Sugarman of Marblehead, Mass., answers concisely: “Because I can.”

Her thoughts are likely shared by many others who will join Lisa at this year’s race:

“While growing up, my dream was to run, but for some reason running was always a challenge for me. I was an active kid, always on my school sports teams and always in the gym; but I could never run. I just didn't have the endurance for it.

“I used to envy people I saw running. I envied the solitude and the strength and the peace of it. I trained for and ran my first 10K when I was in my late 20s. The only thing behind me was the ambulance. But I finished! It was brutal and exhilarating all at once.

“I loved everything about it. I loved the subculture, the feeling of empowerment, the sense of community... everything.

“Then I had children and I stopped running. I stopped for almost a decade. There was no legitimate reason why--I just stopped.

“Then, on a family holiday to Florida four years ago, I went out for a walk that morphed into a run. I haven't stopped since. I can't say why I started to run; I just did. Maybe I just couldn't watch other people doing something I was dying to do. Maybe the timing was right, I don't know. I just know I love to run. ”Nearly 41, I'm in better shape now than when I ran that first race almost 15 years ago. I've run countless 5Ks, 10Ks, a half marathon; and now my husband and I are training for our first marathon in mid-October. Dave's an avid runner and so are our two girls--Riley, 12, and Libby, 9.

“I'm not fast--9:30 min/mile race pace--but I'm getting faster and going farther every day. But pace doesn't matter to me. I run because I can. I run because I wanted it badly enough as a part of my life that I forced myself to get out every day. Running is work for me--always has been--but it's become a labor of love. I can't imagine my life without it now.

“The Tufts Health Plan10K for Women is my favorite. It's the vibe. It's the feeling that even though you're running alone you're with 7,000 of your closest friends.

“This year will be my third Tufts Health Plan 10K for Women in the last four years. This year my daughters want to run with me. First it was my dream, now it's theirs. Now we all run because we can; proof that if you want something badly enough you just have to make it happen. It really is just that simple.”

Commitment: 33 Year- Runners
For 33 years, beginning with that first race, there has been a group of 18 incredible women who have made the Tufts Health Plan 10K for Women an important part of their lives, running every one.

Each is amazing and collectively they are a tribute to the commitment to a healthy lifestyle that this race celebrates. They came to that first race as strangers and today share a tremendous history, complete with the reasons they came to that first race.
In the words of Lyn Licciardello, one of these intrepid women:
“Girls were not allowed to run when I was in high school. I wanted to try
it, so a couple of friends and I asked permission to go to the track practices and try to run. The principal literally laughed at us, a great big hearty laugh.

“Ten years later when I was pregnant with our second child, my husband, Tom,
started running. I went to watch him run a race and there was a girl
running. I was amazed! A few months after having my daughter, I started
running and ran in a few local races. I saw a few women there, but never
saw another woman running in my town.

“Tom and one of his running buddies heard about the first Bonne Bell
Mini Marathon coming up on Columbus Day, and they urged me to go.
“I was astonished be in a sea of more than 2,000 women at the starting line! The sheer joy of camaraderie was electric! We ran along the river in a huge
pack, smiling and encouraging one another, all of us knowing that we were
breaking through an enormous barrier--and we were doing it together.”

To learn more about the 33-year runners and their special stories about the race, please visit the Tufts Health Plan Web site at
The Course
The Tufts Health Plan 10K for Women winds through the history and beauty of Boston's Back Bay and along the Charles River in Cambridge. The course is completely closed to traffic and offers six water stations, medical aid stations, and clocks at each mile.

It begins on Beacon Street at the Boston Common and turns right onto beautiful Charles Street. From Charles Street runners cross Longfellow Bridge over the famed Charles River into Cambridge, then heads west on Memorial Drive. They hit the one-mile mark while taking in the river view on their left with the MIT campus on their right. Many runners have fun shouting as they run under the Massachusetts Avenue Bridge approaching the two-mile mark.

Runners set their sights on the Boston University Bridge as they continue to head west on Memorial Drive. What an amazing thrill it is to see the frontrunners that have already completed the turn-around at The Boston University Rotary, speeding their way down the eastbound lane of Memorial Drive. The sight of the elite field is certainly awe inspiring and it is guaranteed to be an exhilarating experience—a very personal experience you must gain for yourself.

Get ready for a hairpin turn at the MIT Sailing Pavilion, (the four mile mark is just after) as the athletes head back west toward Massachusetts Avenue and the Harvard Bridge.

“Once you make the turn you see thousands of women of all ages and abilities spread out for miles along the Charles River course—just awesome,” says Mary Tyler, a 33-year participant.

Cheers from the spectators and the sound of upbeat music as well as the frequently occurring breeze off the river, gives the pack enough kick to cross over the bridge to begin the tour Boston’s Back Bay.

The course turns east onto charming, tree-lined Commonwealth Avenue. Here runners pass the five mile mark. It is fitting, that it is here that the sense of accomplishment begins to gain a foothold in hearts of the throngs of runners. The last stretch of the race is the journey from Hereford Street to Arlington Street at the Public Garden. Then a short distance up Boylston Street and back to Charles Street, the finish line waits amid cheering spectators, families and friends cheering you on to your strongest ever 10K finish!

“Yes, we are in it together, and we did it together!,” recalls 12-year participant Noreen Cohen.

On Track
The Tufts Health Plan 10K for Women will utilize the ChronoTrack Timing System. A D-Tag will be attached to each bib number. This tag contains a microchip for identification. The tag will be affixed to the runner’s shoe, making results fast and accurate.

Elite Athletes
The Tufts Health Plan 10K for Women is not only a local tradition enjoyed by New Englanders, it attracts a deep field of talented elite runners.

Last year, Mollie Huddle of Providence, RI, beat out Aziza Aliyu of Ethiopia in a sprint to the finish. Huddle’s time of 32:51.2 was less than half a second faster than Aliyu’s. Ethiopian Teyba Naser claimed third place and Olympian Amy Rudolph of Providence, RI, was fourth.

You can expect yet another competitive elite field at this year’s race – all of whom will vie for over $41,000 in total prize money. Don’t miss your chance to run elbow-to-elbow with some of the nation’s top runners. They are sure to excite and inspire you to run your personal best.

Race Organizers
This incredible event, now a Boston tradition, is directed and managed by Conventures, Inc., New England’s largest special events agency focused on integrated event planning, public relations and marketing.

For three decades, Conventures, Inc., has been involved in worldwide event management, including athletic, maritime, social and educational events. Strategic planning, budgeting, marketing, and promotion, as well as site planning and preparation, are all a part of their expertise.
Conventures manages several other popular races including the JP Morgan Chase Corporate Challenge, The Boston Aids Walk, and the Annual Marine Corps Honor Run. The also manage the B.A.A. Boston Marathon Expo. Please visit their website at for more information.

About Tufts Health Plan
Tufts Health Plan is a Massachusetts-based health plan that is nationally recognized for its commitment to providing innovative, high-quality health care coverage. Tufts Health Plan’s HMO and POS plans are ranked #2 in America and its Medicare Advantage program has been ranked #3 in the nation by the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA). To learn more about Tufts Health Plan, visit

Road racing is growing, with new events popping up every week; so why then, would someone want to run this race? Specific reasons are different and personal, but the underlying motivation is the same: run the Tufts Health Plan 10K for Women on October 12, 2009, for a unique experience that offers tremendous camaraderie and inspiration. You’ll Start Strong, Finish Stronger. To register or for information, visit Tufts 10K.



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