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home > races/results > usa: massachusetts > 1st run in lowell: first race of the new year, best amenities, and first race in the popular "will run for beer" series

1st Run in Lowell: First Race of the New Year, Best Amenities, and first Race in the Popular "Will Run for Beer" Series
The first run of the New Year should be special. It’s a chance to run with friends, meet new people and celebrate a fresh start. Whether you’re looking to run a 5K or a 10K, the 1st Run in Lowell, Massachusetts, is the place to kick off 2012. And this year it kicks off the "Will Run for Beer" Series.

1st Run in Lowell: First Race of the New Year, Best Amenities, and first Race in the Popular "Will Run for Beer" Series

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By Michelle Boisvert
Posted Tuesday, 20 December, 2011

Happy New Running Year! Celebrate the New Year with like-minded runners and enjoy what has already become a great tradition on the Merrimack River. Start 2012 off with one of the best, a race that is becoming a Merrimack Valley classic, the 1st Run in Lowell, Massachusetts. This is the third annual, and just ask anyone who ran the first two--this is a great holiday run. And this year it is the first race of the very popular "Will Run for Beer" Series, adding a new and exciting dimension to an already top notch event.

Don't delay in signing up; there are several reasons to get your registration in early, either online through the Race Website or by printable application, also on the website: 1. This event is limited to 2,000 participants; 2. Personalized Bibs will be given to those registering by December 12; 3. Race day registration, if available, will cost an extra $10; 4. The first 750 to sign up will be given attractive technical running hats. Please check out the Race Website for information, results, photos, runner reviews, and added amenities. Register now at

One of my biggest quirks can also be considered as one of my greatest assets. I’m a planner. I like having a schedule and sticking to it. I love getting a training plan and transferring it onto every calendar in my house. I can tell you what I did last Tuesday and what I will be doing three Wednesdays from now. That’s why I can tell you exactly where I’ll be at 11:00 a.m. on Sunday, January 1, 2012—the starting line of the third annual 1st Run in Lowell, Massachusetts. And another thing I can tell you for certain... It’s going to be one heck of a good time.

When race director Sean Donnelly suggested to some running buddies his idea to create a great local race on New Year’s Day, they were all ears. If you’re familiar with any of the other events Donnelly heads up—like the Hynes Road Race that is part of the Wild Rover Series—you might be able to detect a theme. He loves to run and he likes to have a blast doing it; during and after the event, but especially after. The initial two 1st Runs certainly proved the point, and this one will be even better: Live music, buffet lunch, Andy Schachat of Announcers on the Run announcing before, during, and after the races, Chronotrack B-tag timing by Yankee Timing Company (yes, the chip is built into your personalized bib with your name--if registered by 12/12/11); personalized results sent to your e-mail next day; heat sheets, adult beverages, clocks every mile, and split times half way through the 10K.

Just because the Race Director and the race committee like to have fun doesn’t mean this isn’t a serious event by any means. The 1st Run is above and beyond any other holiday-themed race. With two fast and flat courses to choose from; cool race schwag and a post-race catered party that can’t be beat, Donnelly’s dedication to the local running community shines through.

Case in point: When last year’s participants requested more hats and amenities, Donnelly listened. In 2011, the first 750 registered runners are guaranteed to receive a commemorative 1st Run hat. And every finisher will receive a really attractive custom finisher's medal from Ashworth Awards, the best in the business. But that’s not the only benefit of planning ahead—don't forget, sign up before December 12th and receive your personalized bib on race day--your name on your bib for the first race of the year! You get all that for only $30. Talk about bang for your buck! Register now at

The Merrimack Valley is one of the hotbeds for running in the entire USA, and also a hotbed of innovation. And here runners know how to race well and have fun!

Choose Your Distance: 5K or 10K
Both the 5K and 10K races start and end at the Lowell Elks, 40 Old Ferry Road, Lowell (just off Pawtucket Boulevard) giving you a place to stay warm before the race and a hot spot to relax and enjoy the food, music and brews after all your hard work. Ample parking is available within walking distance to the Elks, which is easily accessible from points north and south.

Both races start at 11:00 a.m., with 5K runners doing one loop and 10K racers covering the course twice. After a short warm-up on Old Ferry Road, racers turn right onto Varnum Ave. and can settle into their pace for 1 ½ miles before turning right onto Pawtucket Blvd. Just as your lungs are starting to burn, distract yourself with views of the Merrimack on your left before turning back onto Old Ferry Road and giving it that final push to the finish.

Runners in the 10K will follow the same route, except they’ll take a small detour onto Bedford Avenue and Jennifer Road just before mile 4 of the second loop. The great thing about this two-loop course is that you can learn the roads the first time around, meaning you’re prepared to kick it in for the second loop. And if you pace yourself properly with a 5K racer on that first loop, you just might start the year off with a personal best! It will certainly be a PR for the year! Both races are exceptionally flat. For maps of the 5K and 10K courses, visit Both races are chip-timed with mats at the start and finish using the lightweight ChronoTrack B-Tag; Yankee Timing will be on hand to provide instant race results. Timing clocks placed at each mile will also help to keep you on pace—whatever your goal.

And you’ll know for sure that you’re ringing the New Year with style when you get to that finisher’s mat. Seeing the professional set up of the finish line bridge and timing clock combined with hearing the familiar voice of New England’s most-traveled race commentator and columnist Andy Schachat as he calls your name will make you glad you made this your first run of the year.

Even if you didn’t PR or place in your age group, 1st Run organizers go out of their way to make you feel like an elite athlete. Each finisher will be wrapped in a heat sheet like a New Year’s baby and awarded a custom-made medal from Ashworth Awards. Check out the race Website for a glimpse at last year’s medal; you can expect something unique and special this year too! It may be the best one you receive all year!

The 2012 "Will Run for Beer Series"
Get a double value on this race as the first one of the Series. It emphasizes the joy of running.
January 1 First Run 5K, Lowell, MA
January 14 Smuttynose Palooza Runathon Half Marathon and 5K, Milford, NH
February 19 | Half At The Hamptons, Hampton, NH
March 31 April Fools 4 Miler, Salisbury, MA
April 7 Great Bay Half Marathon & 5K, Newmarket, NH
May 6 Margaritas Cinco de Mayo 5K, Exeter, NH
June 3 Will Run For Beer 5K, Hampton, NH

A Little Something for Your Time
Donnelly may try to focus on the FUN in RUN, but he doesn’t forget about the guys and gals who really show what they can do on the roads. Age group winners will receive engraved champagne flutes so they can celebrate their achievements in style. Memorable, and fitting!

Don’t expect a long drawn-out awards ceremony, though, because everyone, volunteers included, will want to get to the food and beverages—as soon as possible. Results will be posted after the race; runners need to then visit the baggage room for their prizes if they think they’re due. Volunteers will man baggage claim so runners can get into something warm and dry right away; and they will also give out awards. “The volunteers have fun congratulating winners and meeting all different types of runners,” said Donnelly. That means there’s no disruption to the post-race festivities." Party on!

A Lotta Something for Your Efforts
What New Year’s Day race would be complete without a little celebration? After your first run of the year, great food, a couple beers and some live music is the only way to go.

Donnelly stresses the relaxed atmosphere of this race. “My thing is about getting people together and having fun. I just want the average runner to come out and have a good time,” he said. “I try to keep everyone entertained. I key my races to the middle and back of the pack runners; they’re usually willing to stay for a while, eat some food, drink a beer and spend time with friends.”

The post-race spread includes a catered meal at the Elks with hot soup, broccoli Alfredo, dessert, drinks and adult beverages. Sit back, relax and listen to the live band as you make (and maybe already break) some New Year’s resolutions with your running buddies. You can even capture some memories and show off your finisher’s medal by getting a race photo taken in front of the official 1st Run backdrop. Nowhere else will you find a 5K or 10K race with amenities and extras like these!

So now is the time to make your New Year’s plans. You know where I’ll be on Sunday, January 1, 2012...and I expect to see you there!



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