The 94th Annual Patriots Day Road Race in Lexington—Great Race, Historic Place
Yes, 94 years! This is the third oldest road race in the USA, and certainly one of the best anywhere. History comes alive in this five-mile tour of venerable Lexington, Massachusetts.
Posted Tuesday, 13 April, 2010
Running through history! The 94th annual Patriots Day Road Race, the Lexington Lions Journey for Sight, will step off on Monday, April 21, beginning at 10:00 a.m. This is not just any starting line. The start is the at the idyllic Town Common, known since April 19, 1775 as the Battle Green.
The start is in the shadow of the Minuteman Statue, Captain John Parker, at the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue and Bedford Street. The famous Revolutionary Monument (1799) is nearby, and the historic Buckman Tavern, built in 1690 and a hangout for the militia when they were training, sits across the street. What a treat for all runners! Starting and ending at the historic Battle Green, this five-mile loop is an ideal early spring test. The clockwise course provides an excellent tour of the historic town, beginning with the first 1.3 miles down Massachusetts Avenue, Route 2A, the same route the British army took when entering Lexington, and later that day when retreating on what became Patriots Day, April 19, 1775.
The Lexington Lions will dedicate 100% of the proceeds from this event to the Massachusetts Eye Research Fund in keeping with their mission.
This is one terrific five miler, my friends, and at the right time—springtime in New England. This race is on the same day as the BAA Boston Marathon, and many run in Lexington, and then zip over to watch the marathon for a full Patriots Day. Others spend the day celebrating in Lexington, where the Lions Journey for Sight is a key part of the day-long festivities that include: Paul Revere’s arrival; the battle reenactment at 6:00 a.m.; the famous pancake breakfast from 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.; the USS Lexington commemoration at 11:00; and the Patriots Day parade at 2:00 p.m.
The road race is a model for races throughout the area. It has experienced organization, and all the right amenities. This is the ideal race for such an historic holiday. This race is especially friendly for beginning runners and veterans alike, with a mildly challenging and scenic course. There are two kids’ divisions, 10-year age groups, and team competition, minimum of four runners.
The race itself is historic, started by the Lexington Athletic Association in 1914 as the “Paul Revere Marathon”. There were 10 runners competing in 1914, and Ralph “Curlie” Currier won the trophy. Interestingly, his family donated the original trophy back to the Lexington Lions Club in 2006. It will be on display during race registration/pickup, and also during the awards ceremonies. The family also donated the new winner’s trophy.
Lexington is simply a great place to run a race or take a walk. It is a birthplace of American independence and liberty. Runners and Walkers in this race will enjoy this historic town in late April; with spring budding and historic homes and landmarks along the way. It has history and tradition—can you believe it, 94 years. If you have never visited Lexington, you definitely should. If you have never run a road race there, you absolutely must. Only a really good, exceptionally well-organized road race could survive from 1914.
Pre-race check in and late registration will be available from 8:00 a.m. to 9:45. Don’t wait to sign up though. On-line registration is available directly from Cool Running and on the race Website. For additional information call 781-862-1170 or mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
History Is On Display on this Clockwise Loop Course
When the horn sounds hundreds of runners will speed away from the battle green on Massachusetts Avenue, Route 2A. Heading southeast, at 1.3 miles runners will turn right on Marrett for a 2.2-mile stretch of mostly rural, quiet road heading west. It is sometimes winding, and has just enough hills to be interesting. This is a nice stretch. You will find water stops every mile. At 3.3 miles the field turns right on Lincoln Road for a terrific mile that passes Lincoln Park, then a left on Worthen at Hastings Park and the town pool complex. After about 200 meters, runners return to Massachusetts Avenue with a right turn back toward the fast finish at Battle Green. At the start the Minuteman Statue is on your right, and at finish on the left. What a spot to complete your race!
Chip timing will eliminate crowding and confusion at the line and provide results very quickly. The finish, post race refreshments, and award ceremonies will very well organized.
This unique Massachusetts and Maine (part of Massachusetts at the time) holiday marks the beginning of conflict in the American Revolution, and led directly to the Declaration of Independence. Since 1969 it has been celebrated on the third Monday of April. British General Thomas Gage, who was in command of forces in Boston, sent 700 British regulars marching out to Lexington and Concord to seize and destroy Colonials’ stores of arms, powder and ammunition. They marched on the night of April 18, but the patriots knew they were coming, and the towns along the route were alerted by William Dawes, Samuel Prescott, and Paul Revere. The Lexington Militia assembled on the town green, now known as the Battle Green, and intercepted the British at sunrise on the morning of April 19, 1775.
There was an exchange of words at first during the standoff, then a first shot was fired (no one then or now knows who fired first). There were several volleys fired by both sides. The Lexington men were few in number at that point, barely a tenth of the British force, and they took casualties as they fell back—eight killed and ten wounded. But as they withdrew they delayed the British march toward Concord, giving the Minutemen there time to assemble. The British were repulsed at Concord and could not cross the Concord River. As the colonials grew in number, the British began to retreat toward Lexington. Gage sent 1,000 reinforcements to help cover the retreat to Boston, and the two groups met up in Lexington.
The Minutemen dogged them all the way back to Boston harbor. The British suffered almost 200 casualties before finally reaching the defenses of Charlestown. They never ventured out of Boston again after that, being under siege by the colonials from that day on. In fact, George Washington took command in Cambridge a few months later, and in March of 1776 Washington’s Soldiers managed to haul many cannon, captured from the Brits at Fort Ticonderoga, to the top of Dorchester Heights. This made the British position in Boston untenable, and they agreed to withdraw. Washington agreed not to fire on them or their ships if they would not damage or burn the town. The British sailed for Nova Scotia on March 17, 1776, St. Patrick’s Day. From that point March 17 has also been known in as Evacuation Day. Four months later the American colonies declared independence.
The Lexington Visitors Center is at 1875 Massachusetts Avenue, not far from the famous triangular Battle Green. Buckman Tavern, at the southeast corner of the green, is open to the public with guided tours. It was built in 1690, and was the first public house, first store, and first post office in Lexington, in addition to being a gathering place for social events, including militia and band training. The Munroe Tavern (1695) is also on Massachusetts Avenue, #1332. It served as British headquarters and a field hospital during the conflict. Guided tours are available. The Hancock-Clarke House (1698) was the boyhood home of John Hancock (his grandfather’s house), and was where Hancock and Sam Adams stayed as the British approached. It is located at 36 Hancock Street, and guided tours are available.
Be sure to see the National Heritage Museum (on the course at 33 Marrett Road), the Old Belfrey on Clarke Street, which rang the alarm the morning of the battle, the Old Burying Ground, just north of the Battle Green, and the Revolutionary Monument on the green. The Minuteman National Historic Park is just west of Lexington as you head toward Concord, and offers great paths to run or walk. And there is also a nice trail at Fisk Hill on Route2A. The Minuteman Bike (rail) Trail from Alewife to Lexington is a tremendous resource. There is a lot to like about Lexington—its heritage, its dynamism of today, and its friendly and helpful people.
About the Lions Club
Lions Clubs International is the world’s largest service club organization with approximately 1.35 million members belonging to about 45,000 local clubs in 195 countries. The organization was founded in 1917, and its women and men have since contributed millions and millions of volunteer hours, and hundreds of millions of dollars for charitable causes (estimated $506 million and 71 million hours last year). Their motto is “We Serve”. And they do.
Worldwide they are recognized for their service to the blind and visually impaired, going back to 1925 when Helen Keller attended their International Convention. Their commitment to sight conservation includes numerous local programs and the international SightFirst program. Lions Clubs also support environmental improvement programs, build homes for disabled citizens, support diabetes education, provide for disaster relief, promote youth outreach programs, and more.
The Lexington Lions Club is a shining example of this tradition. Their list of accomplishments is impressive. The mission statement of the club is, “To create and foster a spirit of understanding among all people for humanitarian needs by providing voluntary services through community involvement and international cooperation.”
The Lexington Lions Club has inherited the Patriots Day Road Race as one means of supporting healthy activity within the community, supporting the larger running community of the region, and raising funds in support of their many very worthy charitable endeavors. The President of the Lexington Lions Club is Alan Wrigley. Mark McCullough heads up the club’s superior Patriots Day Road Race Committee. Check for details at www.lexingtonlions.org.
Enjoy Lexington, Run This Race
If you are not running the marathon, don’t miss this one. Everyone needs a spring running goal, and in addition this event is for a great cause. Join the hundreds who will enjoy the Patriots Day Road Race, the Lexington Lions Journey for Sight. Make a day of it, and come with a group. Treat yourself to what New Englanders have been celebrating for 94 years. It is close to Boston, and year after year delivers an outstanding race experience. The whole town is very friendly and supportive with outstanding volunteers. And keep in mind there are lots of activities throughout the day for the whole family. I suggest you fuel up with some of those pancakes. The race is organized and managed with great enthusiasm for an outstanding cause. Set this goal, put some spring in your step and plan to run this one. You won’t find a more scenic and enjoyable way to spend this unique holiday.