The Groton Road Race - New England’s prettiest and friendliest race keeps getting better!
New this year – A bit of stiff competition! - USATF-NE has selected the Groton Road Race 10k to be the championship race for the 2007 Grand Prix series.
Posted Monday, 5 March, 2007
Join us in Groton Sunday April 29th, 2007 for the Groton Road Race!
In its 16th year Groton continues to host a spring classic that delivers.
- A competitive 10k – this year hosting the USATF-NE Championship (details here)
- One of the prettiest small-town New England courses you’ll ever set eyes on
- A real 5k that isn’t just a throw-in
- 2k, and Tots’ Trot that thrill the families
- Dedicated and competent local organizers
- A green and serene meeting place for old friends and family
- Only $20! (Where else can you get this classy an event for $20?)
Doing it all well!
Groton has either by chance or design found a formula that works. While many of the traditional 10k events have fallen out of favor, Groton continues to deliver and draw a happy and competitive crowd year after year. This is will be the 16th running of this wonderful event. This year things will be revved up for the USATF-NE participants (i.e. ‘Elites’). You know who you are! You are going to love racing the Groton 10k! It’s a racer’s course, and they are planning special care to pamper your elite-ness.
Over the years a 5k course was added and now is a tremendous draw to local runners who turn out each spring en masse to challenge themselves. The 5k course is not a hastily added throw-in race. It is a stand-alone, challenging course in its own right. Many times when events create that shorter distance it changes the whole character of the event. Not at Groton. The 5k has become its own animal with its own distinct cast of characters while the 10k has retained its original challenging luster.
To round things out there is the unique 2k race. This is a great starter distance. I know all you war-horses scoff at the idea of 5k being a long run, but to many this is outside their tolerance. The 2k gives them another rung on the ladder and keeps youngsters (and others) who may have given up, in the game. I’ve seen kids each year progress up through the Tots’ Trot, the 2k and then the 5k. It becomes a ritual for them, something to be challenged at each spring.
The underlying ‘purpose’ of this event is to promote youth and local running and this series of events, flawlessly choreographed each year – from the tottering tots in the infield to the singlet clad athletes in the 10k – brings everybody in and does it all well.
Panning your mental camera across the infield on race day you’ll see elite athletes with club uniforms from across New England stretching and relaxing like nervous gazelles. You’ll see mom, dad, sis and little-bro tittering about in their race-tees in the grass preparing for their respective events. It is a homecoming of sorts. Like a traditional fireman’s muster or harvest fair, families and warriors gather on this day in this beautiful place – and time stands still.
What makes Groton special?
If you ask around your running friends, someone will know the race, and many will have run it. You’ll get responses like ‘good race’, ‘well run’ and ‘great course’. Groton consistently leaves a good impression on those who have experienced it and has generated a fond following at the grass routes level among the running illuminati of New England grass roots.
If you want to see for yourself, check out the comprehensive, complete and voluminous web site at www.grotonroadrace.com
I have a friend who once had the big running magazine call him and ask him, “What’s your favorite race?” He responded by saying, “I’m not telling you, you’ll tell everyone else and ruin it!” I feel a little it the same way about The Groton Road Race. But, I’m going to trust to the resiliency of the event to weather the storm and proceed to clue you in on something special.
If you had to ask the question: “What is the defining aspect of The Groton Road Race?” What would be the answer? There is no showy national sponsor; no marquee disease, no enormous out-of-context hoopla. The defining character of this race is its honesty and its big heart. Groton has defined a unique place in the calendar of Spring events by being true to its running roots and doing it in context. Groton has become a memorable April tradition in a busy running calendar.
Let’s look at those courses!
I’ll walk you through each course and you can decide how to match your racing strategy to it. All courses are 100% closed to traffic – so you don’t have to compete with crazed SUV’s for elbow room on these scenic country roads. The roads are all regular asphalt and are in good shape. There are no major crowns, pot holes or other obstructions to deal with – just open country roads. Depending on the snow fall in the winter there may be some residual road sand on the shoulders.
All races start and end on a standard 400M track. For you track stars, the last bit of the 5k and 10k is a 200M kick on the oval. All course roads are rural loop courses. The majority of the roads will be tree-lined or tree-covered and wind is not usually a feature. The typical weather is in the 50’s. Perfect running conditions – perfect roads – perfect weather – that’s what keeps them coming back!
Let’s start with the 10k. This is a classic New England 10k course. The course changed for last year’s race so there is a new record waiting to be broken. I would guess with the USATF in town all the course records will be new at the end of the day! (Dave Dunham now owns the old course record in perpetuity!)
The course is typical New England rolling hills. Starting on the track you progress the first couple hundred meters on a slight down hill with a hard left onto Main Street. You elites would do well to get some pack separation for this first hard turn, because back in the mid-pack, where I run, it scrunches up at this first pinch point and you have to watch the elbows. The remainder of the first mile is a shallow rise up Main Street through the heart of Groton Mass. If you have the time you can take in a classic and picturesque New England small-town main street mostly unchanged for 200 years.
Just after the one-mile mark you will head up a short up hill left past the Groton Inn. This historic Inn was originally built in the mid 1600’s when Groton was an outpost on the frontier of New England. This short hill crests next to the white steepled church and now you are running down Lowell Road (rte. 40).
Look right and you will see the Lawrence Academy Prep School with its red brick halls of learning looking over green expanses of playing field. Look left and you will see the Angus cattle grazing amid the ruins of ‘the castle’ on Angus Hill. As you continue to wind the next mile down rte. 40 you may be surprised to see a bagpiper screel alone on a grassy ridge.
At about 2 1/3 miles the course loops left down School House Rd. for more rolling tree-covered country roads. Another ½ mile and you turn left again onto Martins Pond Road and gain some elevation through the third mile – coming back down to mile four. At about 4 ½ miles you’ll turn right onto Hollis Street and the real race begins.
After a short distance on Hollis you’ll turn left on Longley Rd. and then left again down Breakneck Rd. You’ll pass the five mile mark on Breakneck. For you down hill runners Breakneck is a steep 1/3 of a mile decline with a sharp left at the bottom onto Common Street. Save your momentum because the next ½ mile or so is a grinding uphill - not too steep but significant for this late in the race.
Once you crest Common and turn right again onto Hollis you can smell the finish and it’s all flat or down hill for the last ¾ miles. You won’t be able to see the finish until you’re right on top of it so start your kick here. Accelerate and stretch it out left down Champney Street, bang a sharp right through a tree-tunneled driveway and you’ll emerge into the sun, onto the track with 200m to go. Put your head down and push yourself through Lane #1 to the finish on the other side of the oval.
There are plenty of places on this course to make your move and test your mettle. That last hilly section on Common would be a great place to break the competition.
The 5k course runs at a different time on essentially the same course. Instead of going out rte. 40, the 5k cuts back left on Hollis Street in the center of town. The 5k still has those hilly bits at the end for you to enjoy, and still pops out on the track for a fast finish. These are great courses to race.
The 2k is a closed course lain out across the middle school athletic fields. All the kids have to do is stay inside the cones and you can easily watch them the whole time. The grass footing is forgiving for all kinds of low-tech running footwear. (my kids never bring the right shoes) The Tots’ Trot goes off in waves around the track infield and no-one can get lost. All the kids get a ribbon and some snacks.
If you’re not racing and prefer a more leisurely pace, the scenery of pond, field, farm and forest will give your head ample reasons to swivel. The fresh country air and beautiful vistas will make your trip around these courses a New England postcard memory.
Amenities – Details, Details, Details…
The races will all run on Sunday April 29th, (ample two week rest for all you marathoners). Registration and packet pick up at the Groton Middle School – right next to the start and finish – it’s all in the same place. (See www.Grotonroadrace.com for directions and times) One cautionary tidbit – There is no race day registration – saves everyone the hassle – so plan ahead and give yourself some time to park in the morning because the roads are closed for the races.
11:00 am - Tots' Trot
11:30 am - 2k
11:50 am - 5k
1:00 pm - 10k
There will be course support with water stations and a smattering of bands performing inspirational music to keep it interesting. There is chip timing and mile splits on the course. The organizers have been doing this each Spring since 1992 and manage it flawlessly to your benefit.
The USATF-NE 10k Championship
This year a couple hundred lean-mean elite USATF-NE runners are expected to race the 10k. Expect some exciting competition from these world class athletes. They will be taken care of with reserved parking and staging areas. There is a $2 per runner discount for USATF teams of 5 or more.
Groton has always been a respected and high quality event. The addition of the USATF-NE Championship will only add to the excitement!
Country Hospitality and Competence from the Squannacook River Runners
Believe it or not this whole shebang is orchestrated by a small running club, the ‘Squannies’, based in Groton. You won’t see too manySquannacook] racers on the winner’s perch at local events, but you will find them in the pack or working the water stops. This club epitomizes the grass roots support of the sport that makes New England the home base of so much running lore and talent.
The race was started to promote local running in general and youth running in particular. In this it has been very successful. The club supports local school track and cross country teams with equipment, funds and scholarships. The Summer Track & Field program has seeded local teams with happy kids consistently over the years.
Does something so low-key actually make and impact? Yes it does. As proof, the first generation progeny of this program are now tearing up the courses and winning meets at college! That is an impact. Taking local kids and enabling them to find the champions within. You could say this race is changing the world for the better one runner at a time.
Putting on a great race and keeping it in context without over doing it.
It all started on a cold April day in 1992 as a local 10k for the spring calendar to raise money for local youth running programs. Now it’s a Spring tradition for a couple thousand racers, runners and aspiring athletes.
You can share in the success and tradition that is Groton this year. You can add your energy to the heart of this great race. You can paint a memory of green fields and sheltering trees. You can be part of keeping our sport local and alive. Sign up now and join me at Groton April 29th, 2007!