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home > races/results > usa: massachusetts > the jack kerouac 5k, america's beatnik run and pub tour

The Jack Kerouac 5K, America's Beatnik Run and Pub Tour
Coming on September 28, this celebration of Lowell’s most famous native son will have a new, scenic course and an interesting and enjoyable post race visit—for those 21 and older—to some of the best pub establishments in downtown Lowell. Half of it is “On the Road” and half on the Merrimack River bike path. It begins at Kerouac Park on Bridge Street and ends at the Tsongas Center—an autumn run along the river in support of the Jack Kerouac Scholarship Fund.

The Jack Kerouac 5K, America's Beatnik Run and Pub Tour

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Jack Kerouac 5K Event Website

By Skip Cleaver
Posted Wednesday, 24 September, 2014

This 5K race celebrates the life and times of Jack Kerouac. The course is new, although the purpose remains the same—raise funds for the Jack Kerouac Scholarship Fund. The course runs through Centralville and along the river, only a few blocks from the house where Kerouac grew up.

Jack Kerouac was one of the most influential individuals of the 20th century, influencing and in some ways helping to shape American culture. He invented the term “Beat Generation”, and greatly impacted rock music in the 1960’s with acknowledgement from the Beatles, the Doors, and Bob Dylan among others that he influenced their music. And he had a great impact on American literature, and continues to do so today.

For all that national and international impact, Jack Kerouac was shaped by Lowell. Members of his extended family still live in the Lowell and Nashua, New Hampshire area.

He grew up in the Centralville section of Lowell on the northeast side of the Merrimack River. His dad ran a print shop. Jack graduated from Lowell High School in 1939, and he received a football scholarship—he was a good athlete and a running back--to attend Columbia University. In spite of his anti-establishment image, he was basically a very moderate individual in many respects. Lowell was used as a backdrop in many of his literary pursuits.

Great Early Fall Racing Opportunity
The Jack Kerouac 5K is unlike most races, just as Kerouac himself was unlike most authors of his time. The race headquarters and starting line will be at Kerouac Park at 75 Bridge Street, a short distance from the river. The race begins at noon, which accommodates the Pub Crawl post race celebration that is planned, following the awards presented at the park.

Get your name up there on the Race Website; all preregistered runners are listed. And if you register by September 20 you will save some money, and, more importantly, if you register by the 20th you will receive a limited edition Kerouac 5K Pint Glass, listing all the establishments participating in the Pub Tour.

Also, unlike most 5K’s, this one will have team competition. The top three individual times combined will determine the team winner, and each member of the team will be given a set of beatnik sunglasses. The team raising the most funds for the scholarship will also be rewarded and recognized.

Individually the awards will go to the top woman and top guy, and awards will also be given to the top three in each 10-year age group through 80+.

Go to the Kerouac 5K Website for all the details on the race, pub tour, course, maps, awards, amenities, list of entries, results, directions and, of course, registration and packet pick-up.

New Jack Kerouac 5K Course—Scenic and Enjoyable
This course was designed by Yankee Timing's Dave Camire who is known for designing lightning fast courses. He wanted to showcase Lowell and he has done just that with a terrific course along the river with unobstructed views of the city, mills and stacks from the north side of the powerful Merrimack. He has designed the course for the East End Five Miler, 1st Run Lowell, Bay State Marathon, the Mill Cities Relay and the popular Good Times Series, among many others.

The course will essentially parallel the river shoreline, much different than in previous years. The start will be on Bridge Street, adjacent to Kerouac Park and head directly across the river to the northeast side or Centralville Section, also known as the East End. There is an excellent course map on the Website. It shows the right turn on the VFW highway heading southeast where the field will spread out in the first mile. Then it turns onto the Merrimack River Bike Path heading northwest or upstream, a beautiful run, especially this time of year.

Runners stay on the bike path to the Aiken Street (Ouellette) Bridge where the course crosses back to the south side of the river. From Aiken Street you will turn left on Perkins Street, then use Hall Street to head to the finish at the Tsongas Center Arena. The race will be chip timed by Yankee Timing Company using the revolutionary Chronotrack B-Tag and both the start and finish along with a halfway split will have timing mats. Please see the excellent course map provided on the race website.

Awards will be presented back at Kerouac Park, and then your pub tour begins in the early afternoon.

What is this Pub Tour Anyway
The race has proudly announced that this year’s pub tour will be sponsored by the Wachusett Brewery. Through their generous sponsorship, each of the four establishments on the tour will be giving out Wachusett swag. The more places you visit the more swag you’ll be able to collect. On the bottom of the race bib will be a pull tag. This tag can be exchanged for a beverage at the tour location printed on the tag. Here are the four tour stops:

Finn’s Bar and Grill – If you participated in the past spring’s Good Times Series then you are familiar with Finn’s. Owner Eric Finn will welcome you into his spacious yet cozy establishment. It a great place to enjoy a nice Wachusett beverage while reliving the events of the day with your friends. Finn’s is located at 76 Merrimack Street.

Hookslide Kelly’s – Hookslide Kelly’s will soon be changing its name to Dudley's; however what won’t change is this great venue. Hookslide Kelly's is located just a stone’s throw from Kerouac Park The newly renovated establishment features one of Lowell’s nicest outdoor patios. It’s a great place to enjoy a beautiful New England autumn afternoon. Hookslide’s is located at 119 Merrimack Street.

Wicked Irish Bar and Grill – Lowell’s newest venue is one of its oldest businesses. After 82 years as Major’s Pub, owner Corey Belanger has updated the venue and changed the pub’s name and theme. The sparkling new establishment once played host to the Dubliner Road Race, Lowell’s largest in the early eighties. Be sure to visit this one and help christen a great edition to the Lowell pub scene. Wicked Irish is located at 194 Market Street.

The Worthen House– The Kerouac pub tour would not be complete without a visit to Lowell's oldest watering hole, the old Worthen House. Kerouac frequently visited this historic establishment. Just imagine it was not that long ago when JK was sitting on a bar stool right there at the Worthen perhaps conceiving his next novel. The Worthen House is located at 141 Worthen Street.

For more information visit the Race Website or contact the Race Directors at if you don’t find what you are looking for.

More on Jack Kerouac Jack Kerouac was born on March 12, 1922 at 9 Lupine Road in the Centralville neighborhood of Lowell (house shown above), not far from the Merrimack River and very close to the Dracut border. His name was Jean-Louis Kerouac. His family spoke French, his parents having emigrated from Quebec. He did not begin to speak English until about age 6 when he started school.

His family was deeply religious, although that faith was shaken—especially for his father--during his childhood when his brother died at age nine of rheumatic fever (Jack was 4 at the time). He was very dedicated to his mother and remained so throughout his life.

When he attended Columbia University, he met many in New York who would influence his life and work, including Alan Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs. He dropped out of Columbia and moved around a great deal, spending time in California and Mexico and other locations. He took various jobs, including railroad brakeman and fire lookout in the west. Early on he challenged established beliefs and literary form, and developed into a counter-culture icon, despite his moderate views on most things. He remained religious and tried merging Catholic teachings with Buddhism, and was fervently anti-communist, which put him at odds with many of those he had dealings with.

His “on the road” travels throughout America with friend Neal Cassady led to his writing his most famous work, “On the Road”. However, he wrote it in 1951 and could not get it published for six years. When it was finally published by Viking Press in 1957 he instantly became a celebrity, a position he did not like. He remained a very private man until his death in Florida on October 21, 1969 at age 47—complications from internal bleeding caused by cirrhosis of the liver form excessive drinking throughout his life. He would be 92 this year. He is buried in Edson Cemetery in Lowell on Gorham and Carlisle Streets.

Other books, some published posthumously, included “The Town and the City”, "Doctor Sax”, “The Subterraneans”, “The Dharma Bums”, “Big Sur”, “Desolation Angels”, “Mexico City Blues”, “The Legend of Duluoz”, and others. In addition to authoring novels, he was also a poet of note.

There is an outstanding photo display of his life and work in the National Park Visitor Center in Lowell. He was posthumously awarded a Doctor of Letters by UMASS Lowell in 2007.

Join the Fun in Lowell
Make this one a top priority on your early fall race calendar and set some goals and build some traditions of your own: Kerouac 5K Website And we will see you there!



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