The 23rd Annual Baystate Marathon and Lowell Sun Half Marathon—Qualify with Quality
The Baystate Marathon and The Lowell Sun Half Marathon—and Memorial 5K on Saturday--are unique races within one of the great scenic areas of New England, the Merrimack Valley. This region is a national hotbed of running, and the Baystate Marathon provides your best chance to Qualify for Boston on Race Weekend, October 15-16, 2011!
Posted Sunday, 2 October, 2011
The Greater Lowell Road Runners, legendary running club of New England, have two small sayings that really tell it all in the world of marathons: “For Runners, by Runners”, and “The Bridge to Boston Runs Through Lowell”. Both statements are very apropos because this flat, fast marathon course was designed to be a Boston Qualifier—and that was when qualifying required a 2:50 for men and 3:20 for women. Few other marathon courses qualify such a high percentage year after year.
And this is a Club Race—yes, for runners, by runners. All three races are done with care by this club, a non profit. It is not a corporate race, not a huge big city race, but it has everything necessary to be the ideal race. These folks have been in those running shoes many times for all three distances—they know what runners need, and what they want. Many of them ran their first BQ on this course, and they will support you all the way. There will be pace groups for 3:05, 3:15, 3:30 and 3:40.
The Baystate Marathon and Lowell Sun Half Marathon are tremendously well organized and offer a terrific racing experience for all. Baystate is among the best and most likely marathons in the USA for qualifying for Boston. They had a whopping 38% of the field qualify in 2008, 37% in 2010, and the numbers have been consistently high (33% plus) since the origins of the event in 1989. The running world has discovered what New Englanders have known for years: Baystate provides the best chance at qualifying for Boston. It was founded for that purpose, and has lived up to the concept in 22 previous runs.
Born as a Quality and Qualification Race
The mission from day one was qualification for the B.A.A. Boston Marathon. Race founders Don Allison and Dave Camire teamed up in 1988 to set up a marathon to help runners qualify for Boston. There were few New England marathons, and Cape Cod was one of the few options. Baystate and Greater Lowell decided on February, 1989 in time to make qualifiers eligible for Boston spring of 1989. Rejecting several courses in the greater Boston area, including Cambridge, Camire suggested the Lowell/Tyngsboro venue that had been used for the Great Oktoberfest Marathon in 1981. (The Great Oktoberfest Marathon was only run one year, sponsored by BayBank. Larry Olsen won in 2:17:43, and first prize was a vacation to Bermuda.)
This was the origin of the double loop along the Merrimack, one of the flattest, fastest courses anywhere. The start and finish have been relocated several times; but the essential course remains the same. The triumphant finish is now at the Tsongas Center, home of the University of Massachusetts Lowell hockey team. The Baystate Marathon was run twice in 1989, February and October. That is why this is the 23rd running. The Lowell Sun Half Marathon was added in 1994.
Let’s Run 2011
New this year, the race will begin and end at the beautiful Tsongas Center, making pre-race and post-race comfortable for all. The Tsongas Center is set among the fascinating canals and mills that first made Lowell world famous. After the game enjoy the scenic views of the canals and the Merrimack River rapids.
Other amenities include a bag check at the start, medals for all marathon and half marathon finishers, long sleeve T-shirts for pre-registrations, B-tag Chronotrack timing, clocks every 5 miles, and that free, all-you-can-eat pasta dinner, which is also open to friends and relatives for only $10. Check the Race Website for details on age groups, awards, directions, accommodations, course maps, photos and results, merchandise, contacts, volunteer opportunities, and Expo details: www.baystatemarathon.com
Add in the Memorial 5K on Saturday, October 15th, run in memory of Greater Lowell Road Runners Diane Geehan and Phil Riley, fixtures in the sport and the community, and you have got a perfect weekend of racing. These events are ideal for first time marathoners or half marathoners and experienced distance runners alike. Both the famous marathon and accompanying half marathon run the morning of Sunday, October 16.
This is a small city marathon and half marathon compared to the majors, but both are top notch events, an absolute must for runners of all abilities. This club is dedicated to giving back to runners and to the community at large.
Although they offer prize money and bring in terrific runners, Baystate remains focused on their primary constituency, runners trying to qualify for Boston from all over the region and the nation.
Both the marathon and half marathon will sell out—it is only a question of when (no hype). They have field limits set at 1,500 for the marathon and 1,500 for the half. However, since the word spread nationally on the high qualification percentage of this course, registration is running strong.
To register please go to http://www.baystatemarathon.com/
No matter where they come from, all marathoners and half marathoners will find a welcoming race organization and community, an outstanding committee as well as energetic and supportive volunteers. All the details will be covered--runners just want to run, so there is no hoopla and no hassle as compared to the major marathons. Yet everything is provided to make the marathon experience memorable, whether this is someone’s first or 100th. This is, after all, the Merrimack Valley, which is recognized nationally as THE hotbed of running.
The marathon and half marathon run on Sunday, October 16, beginning at 8:00 a.m. The Registration and check-in, bib and chip pickup will be at the UMass Lowell Rec Center Friday 3:00 to 8:00 and Saturday 10:00 to 6:00 in conjunction with the Excellent Race Expo. Race morning pick up is available 6:00 to 7:30 a.m. at the Tsongas Center, 300 Martin Luther King, Jr. Way, Lowell, MA 01852-1050 (just off Father Morrissette Boulevard). Early check-in and pickup is strongly recommended to avoid race day lines. The race expo will include many apparel and gear vendors. Don’t miss it.
Again, Expo will be open from 3:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Friday, October 14th; from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 15, and is free to all. Enjoy a wide variety of vendors suppliers with booths, and demos (check the Website for more specifics on the Expo). Check everything out and make preparations before or after picking up your B-tag and long sleeve T-shirt (all pre-registered runners get a shirt).
There will be a traditional pasta dinner at Lowell High School on Saturday, October 15 (4:00 to 6:00 p.m.). It is free to all registered runners and guests are welcome for only $10.00 each. What a deal!
Please see details regarding accommodations on the Race Website.
Be a Part of the Tradition—Set Your Goal, Get Your PR and Qualify
These are famously flat and fast courses. Both start at 8:00 a.m. near Tsongas. Both courses are basically double loops and both cross the mighty Merrimack four times—the half marathon on two bridges and the marathon on three. The half marathon follows portions of the marathon course. And both finish in the same location, adjacent to Tsongas Center.
The marathon follows the Merrimack River through various neighborhoods and into North Chelmsford and Tyngsboro. It crosses the Tyngsboro Bridge and runs down the northeast side of the river along Pawtucket Boulevard, turning south to again cross the river on the Rourke Bridge at mile 13—the half way mark is just after runners come off the bridge to begin their second loop. The course crosses the Tyngsboro Bridge a second time and follows Pawtucket Boulevard again but this time passes the Rourke Bridge heading east. It crosses the river a fourth time on the way back to Tsongas Center. (There are excellent detailed descriptions of both courses on the Race Website.)
All finishers of both races will receive a medal. Awards and personalized award plaques will be presented to the top three overall female and male winners in each race, as well as the top three female and male winners in the following age groups: 19 and under; 20-29; 30-39; 40-49; 50-59; 60-69; and 70+.
The BayState Marathon offers a total of $6,700 in prize money. They go five deep for open, three deep for Masters and Seniors, and two deep for Veterans. There are bonuses ($250) for marathon event records, Dave Dunham holds the men’s mark at 2:21:36 and Mary Ellen Kelly’s 2:45:53 is the time to beat for women.
Run This One
There will be no big city hoopla or hassle, just the pure joy of running your best ever marathon or half marathon. Be a part of the fastest field in any New England marathon. Be a part of a 23-year tradition of quality and qualification in the Merrimack Valley. Get ready. You can qualify. You can set a PR. You can be a part of the awesome tradition. It is only 32 miles from the BayState Marathon finish line to the B.A.A. Boston Marathon finish line, the closest marathon to Boston in both distance and opportunity. Get that PR and BQ and enjoy one of the best—for runners, by runners!
For additional details please go to http://www.baystatemarathon.com/