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home > races/results > usa: massachusetts > the boston prep derry 16 miler—the race, the place, and the time for marathon training

The Boston Prep Derry 16 Miler—The Race, the Place, and the Time for Marathon Training
Running Derry will make you run a better marathon! This 16-mile challenge is exactly what you need for spring marathon preparation, and it is a great racing challenge with terrific amenities too.

The Boston Prep Derry 16 Miler—The Race, the Place, and the Time for Marathon Training

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By Skip Cleaver
Posted Tuesday, 17 October, 2006

If you are committed to Boston or another spring marathon, then this is the race and the training for you. It is an ideal training run for marathoners, and is a tremendous racing challenge in itself. It is one of the best-planned races, and is ideally scheduled for marathon runners in the third week of January. The Greater Derry Track Club hosts this gem in Derry, New Hampshire.

This race is challenging enough to make marathon runners better and stronger, and yet terrifically enjoyable to keep people coming back year after year. This year all runners get a high quality, long sleeve tech shirt with the distinctive race logo—and all finishers will receive an attractive, unique medal.

If you are planning to run Boston, or Big Sur, Rotterdam, St. Louis, London, Vancouver, Ottawa, Vermont City, Nipmuck (Connecticut), or French Lick (Indiana), or any other spring 26.2, then the Derry Boston Prep 16 is for you. You have to run the 16 miles for sure to prepare for your marathon—and you need hill training--and here you can do it with 750 others on a great course. And you will have the amenities and camaraderie throughout, and great food (including hot soup) at the end.

The twelfth annual Boston Prep 16 Miler will run in Derry, New Hampshire, on Sunday, January 21, beginning at 10:00 a.m. Race headquarters, registration, bib number, T-shirt, chip pickup, as well as the excellent post race food and awards, will be at the Derry Village Elementary School, same as last year. The elementary school is just north of—and adjacent to--West Running Brook Middle School where the finish is located. The starting line is on Humphrey Road, just south of West Running Brook Middle School. This is in East Derry, just .6 mile south of the Derry traffic circle, and 1.2 miles north of the Robert Frost farm.

Many say this race is among the toughest anywhere, with hills. The largest hill, Warner Hill (also known as Antennae Hill), is a long climb, but it too is ideal. It is at the same point in the race (70 to 75% complete) as the famous heartbreak hills in Boston—ideal training. Derry is somewhat hilly, but not mountainous—the highest elevation in town is 605 feet. That’s it!

The Greater Derry Track Club and Race Director Dave Breeden take great pride in presenting a high quality event for the distance runners of New England and beyond. This scenic challenge is limited to 750 runners, and it will likely sell out well in advance. If you want the high quality tech shirt, the attractive medal, the excellent marathon training, and the unique experience of the Boston Prep Derry 16, please apply early.

The Course
Greater Derry Track Club members Jeff Litchfield and Mike Beeman designed the original course 13 years ago, simply following the roads they normally trained on for Boston. They thought it might appeal to others. They were right.

The start is on Humphrey Road, just south of West Running Brook Middle School, just off Route 28. It is only 100 yards from West Running Brook, the small stream made famous by Robert Frost.

The course heads east on Humphrey, between fields and farms and those stone fences, also prominent in Frost’s work. At ½ mile, the course turns right on Cemetery Road, and shortly thereafter crosses West Running Brook.

It turns left on Island Pond Road at .7 and begins a gradual upgrade for a half mile, then turns right on Lawrence Road at 1.5. The course bears left at the fork onto Stark Road, named for General John Stark of Revolutionary War fame (1728-1822). Note the stone that marks his birthplace on the right just after turning on Stark Road.

A left on Gervais (2.5) takes runners through an attractive, quiet neighborhood, followed by a right on Mill Road at 3.3. Here the course crosses the impressive State Recreational Rail Trail, which runs from Windham Depot through Derry to Sandown. At 4.3 the course returns to Stark with a left, followed by another quick left on Kilrea Road. The field passes five and six miles on Kilrea, including a nice downhill just beyond five and a beautiful hemlock grove on both sides at 5.5. The course turns right on Gulf Road at 6.2 and runners enjoy some rolling downhill.

A left on Bartlett at 7.1 is followed by another left as the race returns to Island Pond Road (7.3); this is a flat stretch. The relative flat continues with a right at eight miles on North Shore Road, a very quiet section. A left on Drew Hill Road at 9.1 brings a short but steep grade.

Just beyond the fire station the course turns right on Warner Hill Road, passing 10 just after the turn. The long climb begins on Warner Hill Road as runners approach the 11-mile mark. It starts from one of the lower points on the course, just after crossing the rail trail again. The big hill is behind you by 12 miles, followed by a left on Floyd Road at 12.3. Just before 13 miles, the course turns right on Lane Road, and provides one of the flattest and nicest sections from 13 to the old finish at 14.1 miles. Fields and farms line both sides for this pleasant flat stretch.

At 14.2 you enter the village of East Derry, turning left on Hampstead Road. You will pass colonial houses, the Upper Village Hall, the general store, the quaint library, and the Civil War monument. The course turns left on Cemetery Road at 14.6. The 15-mile mark is just beyond the end of the cemetery. The last mile is along this flat road, with a right on familiar Humphrey Road with its stone walls and fields. As you turn right from Humphrey onto Route 28, there is just over a tenth to go. The right at the light at the top of the grade takes you to the finish at West Running Brook School.

Chip timing will be in use at the finish (actual time only). There are computer splits and checks at 5, 10, and 13.1 miles. There is a strict time limit of three hours.

Registration Options
If you register on-line you will save money. There is a printable application on the race Website if you do prefer to mail it in. There is a limit of 750, and that is a hard limit, due to the rural, narrow roads that make this such an enjoyable course. So it is first come, first served. If any openings do remain, there will be race-day registration at the Derry Village Elementary School.

For all participants in the Mill Cities Relay, the 16 clubs of the Mill Cities Alliance, there will be special applications available at the Mill Cites event on December 3rd in Nashua and Lawrence, which will offer a $5.00 discount.

Awards go to the top three overall and top three in all 10-year age groups. There are also awards three deep for open and master Fillies, and open and master Clydesdales. Every finisher will receive a unique high quality medal. And all runners will enjoy a really colorful and unique long sleeve tech shirt.

Robert Frost and Alan Shepard, Derry Residents
You will be racing near the homes of Robert Frost, one of the most famous and often quoted of American poets; and Alan Shepard, America’s first astronaut in space, and the fifth person to walk on the moon.

The Frost Farm is a mile south of the race start, on Route 28, or what was then known as the Londonderry Turnpike. He passed Humphrey Road, West Running Brook, and what is now the Derry Village School on his way to teach at Pinkerton Academy. He was a poultry farmer, and also taught English and Literature at Pinkerton, now America’s largest private preparatory school (and Derry’s High School). It is also one of the oldest private academies in the USA (1814).

Many of Frost’s early works were written in Derry, and many more were inspired by his experiences there, including such famous works as “Mowing”, “Mending Wall”, “Birches”, “The Road Not Taken”, New Hampshire”, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” (Promises to Keep), and “The Pasture”. He lived in Derry longer than any other location (1900 to 1911), and drew many of his works from direct experience and observation while living there, including “West Running Brook”.

West Running Brook was once the boundary of Robert Frost’s farm. He made this brook famous in his poem of the same name, “West Running Brook”, and he also published a book of poems with that title. Frost was apparently fascinated by this stream, which seems to run contrary to nature by running west when the ocean is east. The poem that eventually resulted was one of the deepest and most complex ever written by Frost, full of metaphors and philosophic cycles of life and continuity.

Alan Shepard was America’s first person in space. He was born in Derry in 1923 and grew up on a farm near the village of East Derry (just east of the First Parish Church adjacent to the race course). He attended elementary School there and graduated from Pinkerton Academy before going to the Naval Academy. He was a World War II veteran and a naval test pilot before becoming one of the original seven astronauts (April, 1959). He rode “Freedom Seven” into space with his sub-orbital flight on May 5, 1961, the first success of the Mercury program. In 1963 he became Chief of the Astronaut Office.

January 31 to February 9, 1971 he commanded Apollo 14, and became the fifth man to walk on the moon. He was the recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor (Space). He died of leukemia July 21, 1998. Because of Admiral Shepard, the Pinkerton Academy sports teams are now called the “Astros”.

Reasons to Race in Derry
The Boston Prep Derry 16 Miler is challenging, but it is enjoyable because it is so different. Any 16-miler would be challenging when hills are involved. But that is your marathon training and challenge, and it is a lot easier with others. You will be glad you raced this one, come marathon day—and your marathon will be a lot better for it.

The race is also well organized, scenic, exciting, and perfect for the training calendar. It is preparation for the Boston Marathon, or any other marathon. Hey, it’s New England! It’s January! Unpredictable weather is part of the anticipation and the fun for all marathon training. This event brings necessary focus and goals, as well as a specific date for distance training in winter.

The Boston Prep 16 Miler in Derry is generating excitement and anticipation already. There are few races of any type that provide exactly what is required at precisely the right time--this is one.



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