Yankee Homecoming 10-Miler A True Classic
Many races claim to be a classic, but few truly live up to the billing. Here is one race that is the “class” of all “classic” New England summer evening events. The 44th Annual Yankee Homing 10-Miler Classic will take place Tuesday evening August 3.
Posted Thursday, 22 July, 2004
Have you ever wondered what makes a road race a true classic? I think it is the combination of many factors. Longevity is important. The good races usually stand up to the test of time. An interesting and unique route is another important feature. Race venue, atmosphere and participants are also contributing factors. One race that fits the criteria of a classic is Newburyport’s Yankee Homing Coming 10-Miler.
The first Yankee Homecoming 10-Miler was held on August 2, 1960. Although it was advertised as 10-miler, the course was actually 8-miles in length. Ed Duncan (44:50) of the Boston Athletic Association led thirty runners on a 78-degree evening that was overcast and humid. The race was organized by the Newburyport Jaycees and started from the YMCA in downtown. The course contained many of the streets that make up today’s route.
In 1969 the race was moved from the YMCA to Newburyport High School. The race would remain at the high school until 2001 when the venue was moved to the nearby Nock Middle School. The next significant year in the history of the race was 1980 because that is when the Jaycees decided to end their 20-year affiliation with the event. Enter Jon Pearson, the current race director, and the Newburyport Lions who took over the reins and have grown the event into the success it is today.
Any classic event has to have a classic racecourse and this is one of them. It does not take long to realize that the Homecoming course is one of the most scenic in all of New England. From the Nock Middle School the route heads east on High Street. Here you will view large elegant Federal styles houses once owned by prosperous ship owners dealing in the maritime trade.
From High Street the course heads west and through the downtown district and along the harbor’s edge. Here you will find a thriving New England seaport with picturesque waterfront buildings and a bustling brick and cobblestone retail center. Since downtown is a short walk from the start, the highest concentration of spectators watch the progress of the race from here.
After leaving downtown it is off to Maudslay State Park and the Merrimack River basin. This is perhaps the most rural section of the course. The former Moseley family estate on the Merrimack River, features 19th century gardens and plantings, rolling meadows and miles of trails. As the course skirts the park the shade from the towering pines can be a nice respite from the late summer heat.
From Maudslay the course heads east towards the Nock Middle School and the Atlantic Ocean. Make sure to wear your sunglasses here as the setting sun ahead silhouettes the runners making for a surreal racing experience.
The race is part of the annual Yankee Homecoming celebration. This is a weeklong festival that was the brainchild of Jack Frost more than half a century ago. Frost's vision for Yankee Homecoming included a Big Yankee Breakfast, Fireman's Muster, outdoor games and races. More than forty years later, many of these events are still part of Newburyport's Yankee Homecoming.
Although many North shore communities celebrate Homecoming with a road race, none of them can rival Newburyport’s. This New England style Mardi Gras brings out revelers along the course and to the downtown adding even more excitement along the way.
Jon Pearson likes to point out that subtle changes occur each year. “We make four to six changes annually to improve the event.” Over the course of 24-years those changes become significant and the Yankee Homecoming, although steep in tradition, is a very progressive event. In fact, Pearson was the first New England race director to take a chance in 1996 by placing his application on the web with a fledging company named Cool Running. Today Pearson says “the race is Internet driven and people can enter online right up to the day before.”
Although Newburyport typically is cooler in August then inland communities, heat can be a factor. Therefore Pearson is concerned with keeping runners properly hydrated. The race has five official water stops along with four others for a total of nine. Over 20,000 cups are used during the evening. All miles are clearly marked and digital clocks are used in the later miles. This year the race will be scored using the Winning Chip technology for fast results processing.
After race treats include oatmeal cookies, ice cream, spring water and the return of hot dogs. The race also features over $5000 in prize money. The first 1200 in 10 Mile and first 1200 in 5K receive t-shirts design by local artist Kathy O’Neil. This year and next year’s event is being sponsored by Provident Bank who according to Jon Pearson “have been a tremendous help with the event.”
Contributions from the race go to the Massachusetts Lions Eye Research fund. The fund helps research to find cures and treatment of preventable blindness. Over the past 24 years the race has contributed an incredible one-quarter of a million dollars to this fund.
There is also 5-kilometer run that begins 6:30 PM (five minutes before the 10-Miler) for those wanting to run a shorter distance. Keep in mind that because of road closings both races will start on time. So allow yourself plenty of time to park and to pick up your chip.
What ever happened to the original thirty?
We would like to know the whereabouts of the original Yankee Homing participants. Below is a listing of all thirty and their times and club affiliation. If you have information on any of these runners please notify John Pearson at email@example.com. We know some are deceased like the late great Fred Brown, but we also know many are still alive and some still competing. We will print an update of their whereabouts prior to the race on Cool Running, so please help find out what happened to thirty classic runners who help begin a classic event.
August 2, 1960
1. Ed Duncan (BAA) 44:50
2. Stan Tiernan (NMC) 45:35
3. Ken Mueller (BAA) 45:42
4. Bob Bamberger (NMC) 45:58
5. Consales Scotto (BAA) 46:05
6. Bill Feeney (BAA) 47:03
7. Duane Merchant (BAA) 47:50
8. Royce Sawyer (NMC) 47:55
9. John DiComandra (BAA) 48:10
10. Bob Zollinhoffer (BAA) 48:11
11. George Waterhouse (NMC) 48:32
12. John Boaras (BAA) 49:28
13. Bill Murphy (BAA) 50:27
14. Ed Siskiwicz (NMC) 52:10
15. Carlton Comstack (NMC) 52:35
16. Don Fay (BAA) 52:47
17. Ryan Buckley (unatt.) 53:04
18. Tom McGrath (NMC) 53:05
19. Dick Paganelli (unatt.) 55:13
20. George Skafaf (unatt.) 55:21
21. Mike Bigelow (BAA) 56:23
22. Ben Chapinksi (NMC) 56:38
23. Jake Bradermon (NMC) 56:39
24. Fred Brown (NMC) 60:40
25. Gerry Graviero (unatt) 61:05
26. William St. Cyr (unatt.) 64:10
27. Kevin Hargan (unatt.) 64:16
28. Larry Chirrier (unatt.) 65:05
29. Fran Manning (unatt.) 65:32
30. John Barrett (unatt.) 71:15