The 37th New Bedford Half Marathon—Welcoming and Historic Seaport City Brings You Another Classic Race
It is the USATF-NE Championship and part of the New England Grand Prix for the 22nd time. Presented on March 16th this year by the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick, it is simply one of the best. It is a race with great traditions, indeed one of the best half marathons in the USA. The Friendly Sons of St. Patrick and indeed everyone in the host city welcome runners with quality from start to finish, and respect for the leaders and the back of the pack.
Posted Monday, 17 February, 2014
In New Bedford, Massachusetts they “Embrace the Race”. They treat all participants as guests. New Bedford is a terrific location for a race with scenic harbor views, a closed, single loop course that is spectator friendly. That course includes historic buildings and harbor views, tremendous community support, excellent amenities, and a wonderful racing legacy--37 years. Several things make this venerable event really special—the way the entire city embraces the race and makes runners and spectators alike feel like welcome guests; and the terrific attention to detail by the race organizers, the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick of New Bedford http://www.friendlysons.net/ who have done a great job in presenting this gem of New England racing.
It will be the New England Half Marathon Championship for individuals and teams, the second event in the seven-race USATF-NE Grand Prix. It runs a counter-clockwise loop through this historic and famous port on Buzzards Bay. New Bedford’s seafaring heritage is fascinating at any time, and especially with this course, running near the New Bedford Whaling National Historic Park, museums, and overlooking the harbor, home to one of the most productive and historic fishing fleets in the nation.
Amenities and General Information
This event provides great amenities: Registration and bib/chip pickup close to the start, distinctive long sleeved tech T-shirts to the first 4,000 registrants; B-tag Chronotrack computer chip timing by Yankee Timing Company, one of the outstanding timing companies in New England, and one of the first in the nation to adopt the B-tag technology of Chronotrack*.
They have seven fluid stations, over 100 of New Bedford’s finest police officers to monitor the closed course, over 30 EMT personnel and a finish line medical area. They provide numerous bathrooms and porto-lets; outstanding post-race food, including the famous clam chowder and fish sandwich (seafood has always been a big part of the post-race celebration); immediate results; available showers at the nearby YMCA; cash prizes and possible bonuses; and a supportive, friendly group of volunteers, city workers and New Bedford citizens.
*Yankee Timing Company will offer an innovative instant results option they call “Step-Up Results” using the Chronotrack system: Step up to the system beyond the finish line wearing your B-tag chip (computer chip built into the bib) and view your personal results on the video screen.
This race was rated the top half marathon in New England by New England Runner magazine, and one of the top 25 in the nation by Runner’s World.
New this year, the New Bedford Half Marathon will be working with Athletes for a Fit Planet and the have signed the "Pledge of Sustainability" for the 37th annual. They are planning and working to make their race as "Green" as possible.
It does not stop there—it is more than a race, it is an experience. The city welcomes runners and spectator guests with open arms—and open doors: Museums are all exceptional and open race day and well worth your time (check in at the visitors center); after the race downtown restaurants, sandwich shops and pubs will welcome runners, and should have discounts on special menu items—some created just for race day. Downtown retailers will also offer discounts and specials for racers, their families, and friends. There is plenty of free parking (see Website). And it has the enthusiastic support of Mayor Jon Mitchell with dozens of city employees involved.
Packet/chip/bib pickup will be available on Saturday, March 15, from noon to 4:00 p.m. at the New Bedford YMCA, 25 South Water Street, 02740; and again on race day morning, March 16, from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. at the same location, less than a five minute walk to the start and finish (post race showers at the YMCA too).
An Important Note About Registration
You can save $10 if you sign up before January 1, and keep in mind that the fee will increase by another $10 on February 1, 2014. And there is no race day registration, so please do it now. The first 4,000 to sign up will receive a custom long sleeve technical shirt.
Please visit their outstanding race Website for a ton of information, including registration, directions, course map, accommodations, prize structure, teams and clubs, spectator information, B-tag technology, post race meal, results, race videos, and general information about the region: www.newbedfordhalfmarathon.com . And do plan some time while you are there to take in some of what this unique and historic city-by-the-sea offers.
The New Bedford Half Marathon is a well organized and well attended event (around 4,000 participants signed up in 2013). And it is a well managed event, which makes it an ideal championship race for the Grand Prix.
This is a race through maritime history in a vibrant Southeast Coast community that has so much to offer. The City of New Bedford welcomes runners. Headed by Mayor Jon Mitchell, the entire community gets behind the event in a big way--venerable race, terrific organization, and enormously successful because they give runners what they want.
Great Course--Counter-Clockwise, Runner and Spectator Friendly
This is a fast, USATF-certified counter-clockwise loop course that begins on Purchase Street, the center of this vibrant city. The start and finish are close to each other on a small hill overlooking the beautiful natural harbor. This will be a closed, traffic free course, with seemingly the entire city, including police, fire, and public works departments, in support.
The start is near City Hall and the New Bedford Art Museum. It heads north on Purchase Street before turning northwest on Nauset Street, then west along Hathaway Road before turning south for a pleasant flat to slightly down stretch on Rockdale Avenue. Spectators can easily make their way from the start to the five mile mark at Rockdale and Elm. Runners then pass Button Wood Park on their right heading south.
The course transitions from mostly residential to harbor views when reaching Cove Road with a turn to the east. This is followed by a scenic loop along the peninsula to Fort Rodman/Fort Taber via West Rodney French Boulevard (historic Butler Flats Light Station and Clark’s Point Light are in view), then East Rodney French Boulevard (great views of the Outer Harbor on both boulevards).
The course then heads north on County Street, with an upgrade just beyond 12 miles with historic buildings and lots of spectators; then a few turns take runners back to Purchase Street for the home stretch heading south.
Fast Loop, Even with Hills--Records
How fast, you say? Although there are two gradual hills, and there is often a stiff breeze off Buzzards Bay, this is one fast course. This race was host to a world record by Ingrid Kristiansen of Norway (1:08:32) in 1989. She is one of two women ever to break 1:10 here; New Zealand Olympian Kim Smith ran 1:09:50 for victory in 2011, her second in a row (1:10:53 in 2010). Geoff Smith, famous British marathoner, holds the men’s course record of 1:01:58 (1985), his second consecutive win at New Bedford. Laurie Binder holds the women’s masters record of 1:17:10 set in 1988. Pierre Levise holds the men’s masters record of 1:04:56. There is a $2,000 bonus for any winning runner who breaks the open records.
Other notable winners at New Bedford include Janis Klecker (2), Dave Dunham, Lynn Jennings, Dean Kimball, Lisa Senatore, John Gregorek, Peg Donovan, Cathy O’Brien (2), Bobby Doyle, Jane Welzel, Larry Olsen, Patti Catalano, and many more.
Stephanie Reilly (1:15:54) and Kevin Johnson (1:06:04) were victorious last year. Hilary Dione of Charlestown, MA (1:19:07) and Matt Pelletier of West Greenwich, CT (1:06:30) topped the podium in 2012, edging Amelia Landberg of Boston (1:19:50) and Nate Jenkins of Andover, MA (1:07:05) respectively.
In 2011 Ruben Sanca (1:05:25), running for the B.A.A. joined Kim Smith in the Winner’s Circle. Smith is a Providence resident and she was 14th overall in that race. Smith was joined in victory in 2010 by Derese Denibob, residing in the Bronx, NY as he ran 1:05:21.
In 2009 Heidi Westerling led the women’s race for the third straight year, finishing 39th overall and winning with a time of 1:11:35, nearly three minutes faster than her win there in 2008.
Cash Awards, Five-Year Age Groups, Post Race Celebration
There are cash awards for both individuals and USATF-NE teams totaling $9,900 not including bonuses--$5,000 reserved for teams with $4,900 available for individuals. See the race website for details. The first New Bedford woman and man will also win cash prizes of $250 each. Team cash awards go six deep in the open category, four in masters, three for seniors, and the top veterans 60+. For non-cash awards they will have 5-year age groups through 70+ with an 18-and-under division. All who complete the race receive their very distinctive finishers’ medals, and don’t forget the seafood post race offerings, a delicious reward for all.
The 2014 USATF-New England Grand Prix
There will be officials from the USATF attending and available to sign up runners so they are eligible to participate in the Championship and Grand Prix and score. Everyone should join the USATF, especially if running races regularly, whether as an individual or as a team member. The USATF-NE Grand Prix is now in its 30th year, one of the most highly rated such series in the nation.
Participants in the 30th annual Grand Prix will experience quality events and excellent organization at each race with variation in distance and landscape. All events are tremendously well organized, and each has a lot of tradition. The seven 2013 events include a 10-miler, half marathon, and marathon will test USATF members this season, as well as the traditional 5K, five miler, 10K and rare 15K. Please visit www.usatf-ne.org .
The City of New Bedford—Interesting and Historic
New Bedford is a city for walkers and runners. There are walking tours of the National Historic Park, a 34-acre, 13 square block preserve dedicated to New Bedford’s maritime history. The city is inextricably tied to the sea, and the race reflects that. The beautiful natural harbor opens on Buzzards Bay. The park borders the working waterfront, and the visitor center is well worth seeing at 33 William Street. Before oil was discovered in Western Pennsylvania, the country was dependent on whale oil for lighting, candles, and lubrication, and it was a huge business which sent ships all over the world from New Bedford.
When you come, take time to see and appreciate New Bedford. There are numerous historic homes, and many galleries and restaurants, with ethnic foods and flavors that reflect the amazing history and diversity of the city.
Let’s Do It
This is one whale of a race, a counter-clockwise loop through history. This city embraces the race, respects all runners, and supports the sport. It is the New England Championship and so much more. New Bedford is the second of seven races of the USATF- New England Grand Prix and one of the USA’s Premier Half Marathons—definitely one you should not miss. Enjoy and be a part of this memorable racing tradition in its 37th year.
See www.newbedfordhalfmarathon.com and for additional information you can e-mail DanMcCarthy@newbedfordhalfmarathon.com, or call 617-817-0173.