Eastern States - One Race, Three States
If you are looking for a flat fast 20 mile run then the Eastern States 20 Mile is your best bet. "It is one of those races that everyone should do one time or another," says race director Don Allison. The race also fits nicely into the training schedule for those training for the Boston Marathon
Posted Wednesday, 4 February, 2004
Starting in Kittery, Maine the course travels through the New Hampshire villages of Portsmouth, Rye, North Hampton, Hampton and Seabrook before arriving in Salisbury, MA for the finish. This point-to-point twenty-mile journey traverses three New England States (Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts) and traces America’s smallest seacoast, crossing the entire state of New Hampshire.
The route contains some of the most beautiful and interesting miles on the eastern seaboard.
The route contains some of the most beautiful and interesting miles on the eastern seaboard. The 20-miler starts in Kittery. Maine’s oldest town was once famous for shipbuilding; today it is better known for its many factory outlet stores though you are spared a view of the malls. As you leave Maine and head south into New Hampshire, you will pass over the Memorial Bridge. This bridge is the connection between Kittery and historic and somewhat funky Portsmouth, NH. Make sure to note the many shops and restaurants as you pass through this beautifully restored old seaport town.
From Portsmouth the course follows Route 1-A, bringing you by Odione Point in Rye. This is the largest undeveloped stretch of shore on New Hampshire's eighteen-mile coast. It is here that you will run on roads through a wooded area before reaching the vast marshes that outline the park. The next eight miles are all within the confines of Rye. It is here that you will witness some of the most scenic vistas on the east coast. Wallis Sands, Jenness Beach, Locke's Neck, Ragged Neck, Rye Harbor, along with Odione Point, are some of the areas through which you will pass. On a clear day, you can see the Isles of Shoals, located six miles off the coast of New Hampshire. The Atlantic Ocean is on your immediate left for the rest of the journey while stately mansions with expansive lawns and gardens soak in the view from across the road.
After Rye you will enter North Hampton where you get a great panoramic view of the miles of beaches that stretch all the way south to Plum Island. North Hampton gives way to Hampton Beach, where Merrimack Valley residents have been summering for more than a century. T-shirt shops, fried dough stands and many old-time inns and hotels line the street of this resort beach town. From Hampton you cross a small bridge into Seabrook before reaching the Massachusetts border and Salisbury for the finish.
The Eastern States is also a very competitive race. “The competitive aspect is important to me,” says Allison. “The people who run the race (to win) are not professional runners, but top local runners.” Last year’s winners were Kevin Beck of Concord, New Hampshire, in a time of 1:49:46 and Emily Levan from Wiscasett Maine in a time of 2:04:27. The race offers a $200 bonus for breaking the course record, held by Ed Sheehan (1:46:17, 1994) and Barbara Remmers (2:03:22, 1994).
For those looking to run shorter than 20-miles, but still be part of the event, there is the Run for the Border 10-Mile. This race starts in Rye Beach at 11:00 a.m. and runs to the Massachusetts border in Salisbury along route 1A. This year’s race is part of the New Hampshire Grand Prix. The Grand Prix is an eight-race series of various distances contested by clubs from the Granite State.
The weather for this event has varied from 60 degrees and sunny to torrential downpours and 40 degrees. Typically you can expect a tail wind, however on a few occasions there has been a head wind. The race also offers a cool max shirt that is sold separately from the entry-fee. “I didn’t want to give out another cotton shirt with advertising,” offers Allison. The shirt logo contains an appropriate graphic showing the three states through which the race runs.
Since it is a point-to-point course, buses are provided to shuttle you to the start at Traip Academy in Kittery. For bus details please refer to the website. The Ashworth Hotel at Hampton Beach hosts all after race festivities. For those planning on staying for the weekend, the Ashworth offers excellent accommodation.
For those seeking a true New England race experience, the Eastern States will certainly provide that. In fact, it traverses half of New England’s six states. Even better, it will leave you with the knowledge you have truly accomplished something special and significant — with some of the best views you will ever see in a road race.