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home > races/results > usa: massachusetts > the 2010 baystate marathon – your best chance to qualify for boston –but you’d better sign up fast!

The 2010 BayState Marathon – Your best chance to qualify for Boston –but you’d better sign up fast!
Experience the pure joy of running your best ever marathon or half marathon. Be a part of the fastest field in any New England marathon, part of a 22-year tradition of quality and qualification in the Merrimack Valley. Start training! You can qualify! Be a part of the USATF-New England Marathon Championship.

The 2010 BayState Marathon – Your best chance to qualify for Boston –but you’d better sign up fast!

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By Chris Russell
Posted Saturday, 22 May, 2010

The BayState Marathon in Lowell, Massachusetts has become internationally famous as a Boston qualifying race, and it is selling out quickly in 2010. Find out what we locals have always known – you can get your PR and/or qualify for Boston this year at BayState on Sunday, October 17th 2010.

But if you do want to run BayState this year, you had better sign up now. The race director reports that they are well above historic registration levels, and sign-ups have accelerated since the Boston Marathon as people get psyched up to qualify in the fall. Current projections have the Marathon reaching its cap of 2,000 runners as early as June! The popular Lowell Sun Half Marathon, which shares this PR rich course, is capped at 1,500 runners and will sell out quickly as well.

How fast is it and why is it now famous as a PR and qualifying course? Because it is listed by Running USA as the fastest marathon in the country after Boston, which of course has qualifying times. The median time for Boston in 2009 was 3:44:04, and Baystate was 3:48:42. Steamtown, a downhill course in Scranton, Pennsylvania, was third at 3:55:48. Grand Rapids, Michigan (3:58:31 and California International in Sacramento (3:59:43) round out the top five. Here is the Running USA link: which also contains some very interesting demographic information.

I gained my first qualifier at BayState many years ago! This marathon in Lowell has become a beacon for runners looking fast times. It’s because the numbers don’t lie. BayState sends a higher percentage of qualified runners to Boston consistently year-over-year than any other marathon. Maybe you’ve read about BayState in Runner’s World or heard about it from your friends, but the secret is out.

BayState consistently has over 30% of its registered marathoners qualify for Boston. In 2008 the number was as high as 38%. Even during the years when there were adverse weather conditions the number was greater than 30%. BayState won’t produce miracles, but it will put the numbers in your favor.

Why is BayState the Boston qualification Mecca? The Course, of course!
The first major reason is the course. This course was designed originally by local club runners as a Boston Qualification marathon 22 years ago. New England and the Merrimack Valley have always been a hot-bed of running. When the club runners looked around for a flattish spot to put a fast marathon course they found one along the Merrimack River basin.

The course is two 10-mile loops of the river basin with a 3 mile leg out from the start and a 3 mile leg into the finish. You might expect the course to be totally flat, but it is not. There is a slight roll to the river loop with a small hill and the last 3 miles are mostly a decline. This slight rise and fall throughout the course keeps your legs from ‘getting bored’ and helps you run faster overall.

The course is quite interesting with many good landmarks for runners to pace against. The race starts in the old mill city of Lowell, where several of the giant brick stacks and mill buildings dominate. The course has two bridges across the Merrimack River which helps break up and vary the loops and gives the smart-pacing qualification-seeker a way to mentally divide the race into sections.

Support and volunteers!
The second reason that BayState sends so many to Hopkinton is the support. BayState provides a fast course, but also provides everything you need along and beyond the course. BayState has an enthusiastic and long-term core of volunteers that make the race efficient for runners. The experienced crew makes for reliable course control and support. BayState has continued to expand its relationships with the City and local communities to staff the water stops, course and finish line with capable enthusiastic volunteers and workers. More than 10 of the track and cross country teams from the community staff the race in a win-win for runners, the race and the kids. The University of Massachusetts at Lowell lends its track team members as pacers for the race.

The bottom line is that the long term relationship between the race and the community helps make everything smooth and easy for the runner. You will get as good or better support in your race at BayState compared to any big-city marathon.

The Venues!
The BayState Marathon has great start and finish venues. The race starts at the Tsongas Arena, a large arena primarily for hacky and concerts with plenty of bathroom facilities and copious parking and lots of warm space in which to prepare. The 4,000 runners barely put a dent in the arena’s capacity. You won’t be crowded, stressed or waiting in line at the start.

The finish is great too. Runners finish on the field at Lelacheur Park. Lelacheur Park is home the class-A Minor League Lowell Spinners, a Boston Red Sox affiliate. Your friends and family will cheer you from the stands as you find the energy to kick through the outfield and into a home plate finish on the big screen!

The Calendar!
After the inaugural race in February, BayState has always been held in mid-October. This is key for runners looking to qualify. First, the weather is typically cool and dry at this time of year—ideal running weather. And October along the mighty Merrimack is beautiful with the fall foliage. In addition, if you run a qualifying time at BayState you are in the sweet spot of the 18-month window for Boston and you can actually get two Boston Qualifiers out of it.

The Participants—Your kind of Runners!
When you line up at BayState you will be surrounded by runners looking to qualify for Boston. New England has always produced good runners and this is where they come to qualify. And better runners from around the country have heard of this one and come in large numbers. You will immediately fall into a group of runners all with the same pace goals and training. You will have the camaraderie and support of your own army of qualification hopefuls who know the course and will help pull you through.

USATF-New England Grand Prix Race
BayState is again part of the USATF-NE Grand Prix series. This means that the front of the field will be deep with local elite runners looking for USATF grand prix points. The continued involvement of USATF-New England is a vote of confidence for the race and ensures the professionalism and course control that USATF sanctioned events require.

BayState is the place to be October 17, 2010
The BayState marathon isn’t making any big changes and has stayed true to its mission of creating the best opportunity possible for a fast marathon time. The race now attracts runners from all over – including quite a number of Canadians who make the drive down to Lowell to run the race.

The BayState Marathon has a home-town feel in a city venue with a fast course. With or without experience, if you want to qualify for Boston, BayState is where you can do it.
This is a mature, well-organized race in a small city that has big city amenities, venues and support required. Mark your calendars now and qualify for Boston this year at BayState.

Date and Time: Both the BayState Marathon and the Lowell Sun Half Marathon start Sunday, October 17 at 8:00 a.m. at the Tsongas Arena in Lowell.

Packet Pick up: Race packets can be picked up at Marx Running and Fitness in Acton, MA, at the Expo, or before the race at the start. Here is the schedule:
Oct 13th -15th - Early pickup @ Marx Running 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Oct 16th - Saturday Expo @ Lowell High School 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Oct 17th - Race Day @ Tsongas Arena – 6:00 a.m. to 7:30 a.m.

Expo: At Lowell High School, Saturday, Oct 16th - 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Pasta Dinner: 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., Number & packet pick up

T-Shirts: Long-sleeved T-shirts to all runners.

Individual Prize Money - Marathon Only:
Open $750, $500, $400, $250, $100, Masters $400, $250, $100, Seniors $250, $100, $75, Vet $100, $75, New Course record $250

Team Prize Money - Marathon Only:
Open $750, $500, $400, $250, $100, Masters $400, $250, $100, Seniors $250, $100, $75, Vet $100, $75

Medals to ALL Marathon and Half Marathon Finishers. Awards to top 3 Overall female & male. Top 3 female & male in the following age group divisions: 19 & under, 20 – 29, 30 – 39, 40 – 49, 50 – 59, 60 – 69, 70+
It is only 32 miles from the BayState Marathon finish line to the B.A.A. Boston Marathon finish line. BayState is the closest marathon to Boston in both distance and opportunity. Run your best along the historic Merrimack River where hard work and grit are as much of the heritage as fast running. For additional details please go to



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