The Ollie Road Race, The McCourt Classic - World Class Event with Local Roots and 63 Years of Tradition
Few road races claim 63 years of tradition. Even fewer can sincerely claim the designation of "Classic". The Ollie Road Race, the McCourt Classic, has both—the quintessential neighborhood event and a true classic road race with world-class competition.
Posted Sunday, 7 September, 2003
The Ollie Road Race, the McCourt Classic, has both—the quintessential neighborhood event and a true classic road race with world-class competition. And it has venues to match. The race is run in support of the remarkable South Boston Neighborhood House. Uta Pippig and Boston Billy Rodgers, two famous runners who have made history in Boston, will be a part of the excitement for the second straight year.
The Ollie Road Race, The McCourt Classic 5 miler, will run on Sunday, September 28th. It begins and ends at the famous FleetBoston Pavilion, a striking symbol of the revitalized South Boston waterfront. It has become a fixture in the unique neighborhoods of South Boston since 1941. Runners will be treated to beautiful harbor vistas and wide-ranging architectural changes as they wind their way along the harbor beachfronts and historic streets of South Boston and Dorchester Heights, a significant site in Revolutionary War history. The five-mile loop traverses several centuries of tradition and historic footprints. The new waterfront buildings will provide contrast again as runners return to the finish at FleetBoston Pavilion.
Awards and bonuses at the pavilion will include $4,000 in cash, adding interest and incentive.
This is one of those races where everyday runners can compete in the same event, on the same course, at the same time as the world's best. This does not happen in any other sport.
Talk about innovation! In celebration of the South Boston Neighborhood House's phenomenally successful literacy campaign, over 500 books will be given out to runners at the post-race ceremony—that's right, books. This symbolizes the importance of reading and family education emphasized by the South Boston Neighborhood House.
Following the race the party begins in the pavilion, hosted by the Harpoon Brewery along with WB 56 Lead Anchorman Frank Mallicoat, a fixture in Boston television. The celebration will include plenty of food, prizes, and entertainment in an awesome setting. This is one of the reasons New England Runner Magazine designated this race one of the "Pub Series," another way of adding interest and the flavors of Boston.
The Fleet Boston Pavilion is a fittingly symbolic venue for the start and finish of this race. The neighborhood has long standing traditions, just like the road race. The site of the new construction was very local, very traditional, and very neighborly. From these foundations rose the FleetBoston Pavilion, a world-class venue where some of the most famous entertainers in the world come to perform. So, too, the Ollie Road Race has developed and evolved. It has 63 years of tradition, and in recent seasons has built on those traditions to become a world-class race with star power. The pavilion and the racecourse are surrounded by magnificent views of Boston Harbor and the Boston skyline; while historic, traditional neighborhoods nearby are the pride of generations.
The Ollie Road Race has provided a kids' race for all of its 63 years, a unique feature. In many other events, kids' races have been added recently to increase interest and provide for families. That is laudable. But the Ollie Road Race was a trendsetter—one of the first to offer racing specifically to children as far back as the 1940's. It has grown into a world-class event, but one that still caters to the neighborhood and regional kids.
There is much more to the McCourt Classic, although the Sunday five-mile road race is the most visible.
This is a two-day celebration of the sport. The Children's races will run on Saturday, and the three-mile fitness walk will go on Sunday simultaneous with the big five-mile event.
Saturday is a fun day with a carnival atmosphere for the kids when they finish their races. All four children's races begin and end at the Doc and Mary Tynan Senior Center in South Boston. It will be a block party, complete with clowns, games, and face painting. It's a cookout with Irish step dancers. You will feel guilty if you don't bring your kids. All kids who participate in Saturday's youth races will be awarded medals. And, in keeping with tradition and the emphasis on education, every participating youth will receive her or his book!
Saturday, September 27 (Senior Center)
1.2 mile race (ages 10-14) 9:00 a.m.
Half Mile (ages 8 and 9) 9:30 a.m.
Half Mile (ages 6 and 7) 10:00 a.m.
100 meter dash (ages 5 and under) 10:30 a.m.
Sunday, September 28 (Fleet Boston Pavilion)
3-mile walk (all ages) 10:00 a.m.
5-mile race (all ages) 10:00 a.m.
Awards Ceremony 12 Noon
The 2002 Champions
Uta Pippig and Paul Mwangi were the winners in 2002. Pippig glided around the loop in 27:44, and Mwangi loped through five in 24:38. Pippig will defend her 2002 crown; she is capable of great things, as we all know. Pippig was the darling of Boston after three consecutive wins and the course record in the BAA Boston Marathon. She was definitely the darling of South Boston at last year's Ollie Road Race. She and Bill Rodgers signed hundreds of autographs for everyone on every imaginable surface.
Bill Rodgers, who still holds several American records, won the 50-59 senior division in 28:33. He is certainly capable of age group records, and will be the guy to beat in his division. Rodgers continues to inspire runners of all ages. He has been involved in children's running programs throughout the country, including the phenomenally successful Fitness University for Kids in New Hampshire where he has shared the duties of Dean of Fitness with long-time friend and marathon legend Joan Benoit Samuelson.
Mwangi, who trains in Ossining, New York, has not yet committed. He recently won the Bill Luti Five Mile in Concord, New Hampshire in a course record 23:52, his third consecutive win and third consecutive record. He was the two-time defending champion in New England's third largest race, the Cigna Corporate 5K, where he ran 14:03 for third behind two countrymen. It's a good bet that several other world class runners will compete in South Boston as well.
The Ollie Road Race, the McCourt Classic, began as a very local affair, a contest for young men and boys. It grew slowly in the early years, and remained a local gem, a local "secret". It was an annual event that became a real happening in the neighborhood in the 1940's 50's, and 60's. Neighborhood support was always strong, but few outsiders came. However, in recent years growth has been explosive. The 2002 season saw the introduction of the two-day program.
As with many races, the Ollie Road Race, the McCourt Classic, experienced growth as a result of the running boom. Soon thereafter it became a mainstay for fund raising for the South Boston Neighborhood House. The rapid growth in the last few years has been good for South Boston and especially beneficial to the South Boston Neighborhood House.
Race Director Bryan Van Dorpe and his committee came to the conclusion that if they were going to go to all the trouble to administer a road race in support of Neighborhood House, it might as well be a highly successful one from both a competitive and fundraising standpoint. And so it is. Much of the success has been made possible through the support of the McCourt Company, a South Boston neighbor who began participation and support in the 1990's and has now made a lifetime commitment to the race, as well as the South Boston Neighborhood House itself.
About the South Boston Neighborhood House
The South Boston Neighborhood House serves many needs, and truly is a "neighborhood house". It is an agency that is dedicated to improving the quality of life for all families. Founded in 1901, it faces head on the challenges of today's society and the pressures on families.
The South Boston Neighborhood House builds bridges so that all families in all South Boston neighborhoods, of all income levels, can enhance their lives and learn from each other. The mission: To support family and neighborhood life in South Boston. A sampling of the programs: early books family reading program; volunteer coordination services; child care for preschool and school age children; adolescent programs; technology education; summer day camps; family services; a senior center.. Learn more about it at www.sbnh.org.
The Ollie Road Race is much more than a five-mile race, more than the kids' runs, and more than the 3-mile fitness walk. It is an exercise for the heart muscles as well as to warm the heart and soul. All participants will have the satisfaction of supporting a truly worthy cause; supporting a committed agency and staff while running well. Race proceeds support the South Boston Neighborhood House. Join up for the race, and stay for the party. Come to the neighborhood and enjoy the tour, the view, and the traditions of Boston. It will be a world-class experience.