The New Bedford Half Marathon—This Classic Race in the Historic City is Again USATF-NE Championship
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; the USATF-New England Grand Prix begins here.
Posted Monday, 21 January, 2008
It is one of the best New England has to offer. The 31st annual New Bedford Half Marathon is the first of seven races of the USATF--New England Grand Prix. It will be the New England Half Marathon Championship for both individuals and teams, running in downtown New Bedford, the historic 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, and overlooking the harbor, home to one of the most productive and historic fishing fleets in the nation.
The New Bedford Half Marathon is a well organized, well attended, and well managed event that makes an ideal kick off for the Grand Prix. It is one you should not miss. It goes without saying that you must run the first one in order to achieve Iron Runner status (and win a beautiful jacket) by running all seven.
The USATF-NE Grand Prix begins its 24th year with the New Bedford Half Marathon in New Bedford, Massachusetts on March 16, 2007. This is a race through maritime history and within a vibrant Southeast Coast community that has so much to offer. The City of New Bedford welcomes runners. Headed by Mayor Scott W. Lang, the entire community gets behind the event in a big way. This venerable race, with its terrific organization, has been enormously successful for thirty one years.
Counter-Clockwise, Great Course
This is a fast, USATF-certified counter-clockwise loop course that begins in the center of this vibrant city. The start (11:00 a.m.) and finish are close to each other on Purchase Street 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 on Purchase Street 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 changes 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, historic buildings and lots of spectators; then a few turns take runners back to Purchase Street for the home stretch heading south.
Although there are two gradual hills, and there is often a stiff breeze off Buzzards Bay, this is one fast course. How fast? This race was host to a world record by Ingrid Kristiansen of Norway (1:08:32) in 1989. She is the only woman ever to break one hour, ten minutes here. Geoff Smith, famous British marathoner, holds the men’s course record of 1:02:05 (1986), his second consecutive win at New Bedford. Laurie Binder holds the women’s masters record of 1:17:10 set in 1988. Pierre Levise hold the men’s masters record of 1:04:56.
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.
Last Year at New Bedford
Alene Reta, an Ethiopian living in New York City, took the overall win, his second consecutive New Bedford victory. His 1:05:08 clocking improved on his 2006 win (1:05:52). Patrick Moulton of Pelham, New Hampshire and the BAA won the New England title (second consecutive here) with his second place overall (1:08:06). John Mortimer ran 1:08:41 to capture third.
The female champion was Alemtsehay Misganow (1:15:36), who also trains in New York. Kasie Enman of Huntington, Vermont, was second (1:15:54). This top duo finished second and third respectively in 2006. Molly Tabor of Somerville zipped to third last year (1:19:19).
Enman and Moulton led the BAA to first place in both open divisions. Merrimack Valley Striders took the masters crown, while the Whirlaway Racing Team took the men’s masters championship. The Gate City Striders Triad Racing Team won the men’s senior crown.
Cash Awards, Five-Year Age Groups, Post Race Celebration
There are cash awards for both individuals and USATF-NE teams. Individual cash awards will be given to the top three women and men in the open and masters groups. Plus there are bonuses for women breaking 1:16 and for men breaking 1:06. The first New Bedford woman and man will also win cash prizes. 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+, and an 18-and-under. See the race Website for a breakdown on awards.
The post-race celebration will include a great food spread with excellent fish chowder and fish sandwiches, plus yogurt, fruit, bagels, juice, and more. And the YMCA is close by with showers and changing facilities open to all. Seafood has always been a big part of the post-race celebration.
Sign Up, and Soon
There are three ways to register, including the link to On-Line registration below. You can also print an application from the Race Website (also link below) and mail it in. For the procrastinators, there will be an opportunity to register on Saturday, the day before the race at the Y M C A of New Bedford, 25 South Water Street, noon to 4:00 p.m. (please note that the YMCA will be open to runners before and after the race with showers and lockers, and is very close to the start and finish). Runners can also register the morning of the race at the Sgt. Carney Academy, corner of Elm and Summer Streets (8:30 to 10:30 a.m.). Number and packet pickup will be available at those same locations and at the same times. The Sgt. Carney Academy is only a few minutes walk from the start and finish.
The 2008 USATF-New England Grand Prix
Participants in the 24th annual Grand Prix will experience quality events and excellent organization at each race. The Grand Prix provides variation in both distance and landscape: All events are tremendously well organized. There will be seven in eight months, evenly spaced. The New Bedford Half Marathon has hosted the New England Half Marathon Championship as part of the Grand Prix 16 times.
The other races in the 2008 USATF-New England Championships and Grand Prix:
- May 11 – Medical Center 6K, Nashua, NH
- June 1 - Rhody 5K, Lincoln RI
- July 29 - Newburyport 10 Mile, Newburyport MA
- Aug 9 - Bridge of Flowers 10K, Shelburne Falls MA
- Sept 6 - Ollie 5 Mile, South Boston MA
- Oct 19 - Bay State Marathon, Lowell MA
The City of New Bedford—Welcoming, 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 position in 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 of today. 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 some time to see New Bedford. There are other walking tours of the harbor, as well as historic homes. There are many galleries and restaurants, with ethnic foods and flavors that reflect the amazing history of the city.
The New Bedford Whaling Museum www.whalingmuseum.org, the largest of its kind, is an absolute must. It houses an amazing array of displays and artifacts (150,000 plus), including three full size skeletons of whales. It is in the heart of the National Park at 18 Johnny Cake Hill. The famous Seaman’s’ Bethel (chapel), described by Melville, is next door. The Whaling Museum leads the list of other terrific museums in the city, including the Fire Museum (previously a fire station) at the corner of Sixth and Bedford (on the course). Others include the New Bedford Art Museum, Museum of Madeiran Heritage, Fort Taber Military Museum, and the Schooner Ernestina Museum, and more. Additionally, there are numerous societies and organizations dedication to the preservation of every facet of New Bedford’s history—ships, gardens, homes, port, art, literature (Melville Society), and more.
New Bedford’s seafaring tradition is unmistakable. It is about 55 miles from Boston and 30 miles from Providence. Herman Melville wrote extensively about the city in his great American novel Moby Dick at the height of the whaling industry—such a vital part of American history. It was one of the richest communities in America and crossroads of the maritime world.
From the ancient Wampanoag natives to English settlement in 1652, the beautiful harbor and surrounding lands have been important and bustling.
New Bedford gradually grew in prosperity and influence as did the whaling, fishing, and merchant fleet. At one time there were 329 New Bedford based ships—more than all other ports combined—engaged in whaling.
Yes, New Bedford dominated the whaling industry from the late 1700’s to the late 1800’s when petroleum displaced it, “the city that lit America and the world”. In addition, and overlapping this remarkable period of growth and prosperity, there were 32 companies operating about 70 cotton mills. These manufacturers employed nearly 40,000 people in New Bedford.
Race New Bedford and Make the USATF-New England Grand Prix a Personal and Club Priority
This is the first of seven unique opportunities for terrific grand prix races. Each race will serve as a New England Championship. New Bedford is a big part of the tradition that makes New England one of the best of the 57 USATF Associations, and one of the best running regions in the country. New Bedford is the place to be on March 16.
See www.newbedfordhalfmarathon.com. For additional information you can e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Run the 2008 Grand Prix. It is unique in the country. The USATF-New England Grand Prix and the New Bedford Half Marathon are right in the middle of the nation’s hotbed of running. This race and this city are central to American History and American road racing. Be a part of it.