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home > races/results > usa: massachusetts > the 31st annual cape cod marathon and marathon relay—one of the most scenic in america

The 31st Annual Cape Cod Marathon and Marathon Relay—One of the Most Scenic in America
Location, organization, competition, volunteers with motivation—this race has it all; the Dunkin’ Donuts Cape Cod Marathon and New Balance Marathon Relay are quintessential New England, and road racing at its best.

The 31st Annual Cape Cod Marathon and Marathon Relay—One of the Most Scenic in America

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By Skip Cleaver
Posted Monday, 12 May, 2008

This classic will be run on October 26, beginning at 8:30 a.m. at the historic Village Green in Falmouth, Massachusetts. There will be 1,200 fortunate runners and 190 relay teams participating on this beautifully scenic loop course at one of the most storied locations in America—Old Cape Cod.

This is one outstanding event—chosen 22 times as the USATF-New England Championship; it the gem of the Falmouth Track Club and Race Director Courtney Bird. Enlisting the support of the entire community, and with a very professional approach (although all are dedicated volunteers engaged in a labor of love) they have produced a marathon and relay that truly rank with the best by any measure. Organized and staged by the Falmouth Track Club, this will be the 31st year for the marathon and the 16th year for the relay.

In 2007 there were 2,280 participants in both the marathon and relay from 36 states, three Canadian Provinces, and at least six different countries. And the event raised over $21,000 for deserving charities.

The Dunkin’ Donuts Cape Cod Marathon has an advantage unmatched by any other—it takes place on beautiful Cape Cod. It begins and ends in the quintessential New England village of Falmouth. This is an ideal marathon at every level—first time marathoners, those seeking a Boston Qualifier, those out for a PR, and elite runners looking for awards and rewards. The Dunkin’ Donuts Cape Cod Marathon delivers; it is guaranteed to be a terrific experience. You get exactly what you want, what you need, and what you expect from your hard-earned marathon, and as a runner you cannot ask for more.

The marathon will start the now-famous single loop course from Falmouth Village Green. It will traverse harborside roads, miles of coastline on Vineyard and Nantucket Sounds; pass through forests and villages, past cranberry bogs, famous Woods Hole, and Buzzards Bay. The field will zip around Nobska Point and the picturesque Nobska Lighthouse, and travel several miles of the Falmouth Road Race back into Falmouth and the finish at the green. This is a tremendously scenic course, and the strict limits of 1,200 marathoners and 190 relay teams are enforced to maintain the high quality experience for every “guest”. You have to see the scenery to enjoy it.

Races come and go, but the great ones last. And this one has a lasting legacy. Picture perfect foliage and a support and spectator-friendly loop (never more than seven miles from the start and finish points) add to the fun and the charm. This is a favorite fall marathon and marathon relay for many. It is one of those races and one of those memorable places where everything just feels right. What a beautiful location! What a way to race a marathon!

The Dunkin’ Donuts Cape Cod Marathon and New Balance Marathon Relay have a lot more going for them than a terrific course, however. Every detail is covered for all runners/guests, from packet pick up to course support, to post-race fare and post-race party at the Falmouth Inn. Are you ready? I can tell you for sure—they are ready for you!

The Dunkin’ Donuts slogan in recent months has been, “America Runs on Dunkin’.” This is obviously more than just a slogan, as they are proving a meaningful partner with the running community at large. Many great runners (and many more not-quite-great runners) are famous for their consumption of coffee, so the partnership makes a lot of sense.

The Dunkin’ Donuts Cape Cod Marathon and New Balance Marathon Relay both run the same certified counter-clockwise loop, starting and finishing near the historic Falmouth Village Green.

Evolution to Classic
The first six years the event was held entirely on Otis Air Force Base on the north side of the Cape with a series of loops. It was moved to the scenic villages of Falmouth in 1984. Runners have enjoyed the beauty of this fast but challenging course ever since.

The Cape Cod Marathon was originally designed as a Boston qualifier, and thousands (an unusually high percentage) have qualified there. Typically around 30% of the field qualifies (it was 32% last year). This marathon is simply one of the best for first- time marathoners, thanks to tremendously supportive volunteers and a limit on the size of the field. The Falmouth Track Club’s mission from the start has been to treat every runner as a guest. They want this to be a very intimate personal experience—a fantastic marathon experience, but without the overwhelming crowds of an urban extravaganza. The organizers (30-member race committee) have many years of valuable experience, critical for any race. This is truly a community event with meticulous management.

Last Year Heidi Westerling of Ackworth, New Hampshire won for the third consecutive year (first woman to do so) with an outstanding time of 2:45:46. She was 20th overall running for the B.A.A. Shad Miller of Providence, Rhode Island won his second consecutive victory with 2:28:39 running for the Whirlaway Racing Team. Interestingly both runner-ups were masters. Debbie Barry of Ashby, Massachusetts finished in 3:01:09 topping the masters list, and Titus Mutinda of Lowell pushed Miller with his master’s win at 2:28:53.

Olympian Cathy Schiro O’Brien set the women’s record at 2:37:06 in 1987, and Randy Thomas set the men’s record one year earlier at 2:17:35. Masters records are held by Nina Caron (2:57:26, 2003) and Craig Fram (2:27:58, 2000). Reno Stirrat set a new senior record last year (2:45:47); the women’s senior mark is held by Susan Gustafson (3:08:31, 1998).

Five Member New Balance Marathon Relay
This is the sixteenth year for the New Balance Marathon Relay, first run in 1993. It has become exceptionally popular with schools, corporations, and running clubs. There are five legs, a terrific combination that gives runners of various abilities a chance to participate: Legs vary from 3.05 to 6.15 miles (3.05, 6.15, 5.7, 6.0, and 5.3). Teams consist of two to five members. The standard team event and the Corporate Challenge will run simultaneously with the individual marathon. All runners, individual and relay, will use the ChampionChip timing system.

In the relay there will be trophies awarded for the regular teams and for corporate teams separately in women’s, men’s, and mixed divisions—overall winners and age group winners. However, we have to say that everyone is a winner who participates in this one.

Just an Awesome Course
What a beautiful course! It is a challenging but rewarding combination of flat stretches and small rolling hills (maximum 100 feet) with awe-inspiring landscapes. The course is half flat and half rolling—it is fast, and has an advantage over flat courses because a little change for the muscles is a very good thing and relieves fatigue. And planning helps: The wind is predominantly from the west; so all the exposed areas along the shore run west with the prevailing wind. The portions of the loop that head north and east are much more protected. Temperatures are typically in the low 50’s with low humidity—ideal for distance running.

Many runners, including experienced marathoners, have gotten PR’s on this course. The key is not to go out fast during the flat early portions, and save energy for the rolling hills in the second half. The first 10 miles are flat with some rolling mounds beginning in the 11th mile.

The early miles of the Dunkin’ Donuts Cape Cod Marathon and New Balance Marathon Relay head east from the 350 year-old village green along the harbor and Nantucket Sound. The first 5 miles follow the shoreline with nice ocean views. Then the course turns back into the countryside with scenic protected and very quiet sections. They run rural roads that are lined with the oak and pine trees typical of the Cape. It will be early fall foliage and you will be protected from the sun and wind.

The first 10 to 10.5 miles are mostly flat. Then a few small hills challenge runners to mile 12. Miles 12 to 15 are flat to downhill; and then comes an eight-mile series of rolling hills. Runners enjoy part of the famous Falmouth Road Race course, including Nobska Point and the picturesque Nobska Light at mile 22. The final 3.2 miles offers a flat and gorgeous run along Vineyard Sound to the finish at the Falmouth Village Green.

Along this wonderful course, runners will roll through Falmouth Heights, Menauhant, Davisville, Hatchville, and west to Buzzards Bay. The course then turns south and meanders through West Falmouth, Sippewissett, and Woods Hole before returning along Vineyard Sound to Falmouth’s Village Green and the finish.

In addition to the visual beauty, the Falmouth Track Club will have bands and DJs along the course. Who would have thought that a major marathon would require a Music Director on the race organizing committee?

Runners will experience every section of Falmouth, coastal and inland. The entire route will be at peak foliage, which will be gorgeous with the ponds and the sea in contrast. The course will pass, in no particular order, Waquiot Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, Beebe Woods, and Woods Hole Golf Club course. The beaches include Surf Drive, Nobska, Trunk River, Chapaquiot, Wood Neck, and Menauhant. Beautiful ponds along the course will include Oyster, Salt, Bristol, Siders, Great Pond, Coonamessett, Miles (a.k.a. Ice House), Eel and Nobska. There is lots of open space in Falmouth for this terrific marathon course. The 800 volunteers who make it all possible offer tremendous support along the way.

There will be fluid stations every 2.5 miles, splits given at 1, 5, 10, 15, 20, and 25 miles. The course is really well marked with miles, kilometers, and turns very visible. Porto-johns will be at eight locations along the course, plus start and finish, of course.

Other features include cranberry bogs, marshes, historic buildings, and the Shining Sea Bike Path. Falmouth Harbor and West Falmouth Harbor are memorable, as is the Woods Hole Harbor, famous as the homeport for the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution’s ships, the Knorr, the Oceanus, and Atlantis.

Glaciers deposited the material that now makes up Cape Cod 15,000 to 25,000 years ago. The hills, including those along the marathon course in Sippewissett and Woods Hole, are the result of deposits of rocks, gravel, sand, and silt trapped in ice then left in piles when the ice melted. The ponds were mostly from the opposite action—huge blocks of ice that left indentations (kettle holes) in the earth when they melted (including Ice House Pond at mile 18.5). Only 10 miles wide at its maximum, Cape Cod has 550 miles of shoreline, totals 396 square miles, and has 360 lakes and ponds.

Pre Race, Post Race
Packet pick up and late registration (although it will likely be sold out) will be at the Lawrence School on Lakeview Avenue in Falmouth from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 25th. Packet pick up only will be available at the school on race day morning from 6:00 to 7:30 a.m.
There will be cash awards of $12,600. There will also be trophies and merchandise awards, including unique awards to random finishers. Everyone has a chance (everyone completing this event is already a winner). Trophies and merchandise will be awarded for women and men in the open, masters, seniors (50-59), veterans (60-69), and grand veterans (70+) divisions. There will be separate awards for Filly and Clydesdale divisions. Scoring will be quick and accurate using the Championchip system.

For the relay there will be trophies awarded for the club and school teams, and for corporate teams separately. Overall winners and age group winners will be rewarded in women’s, men’s, and mixed divisions.

The post-race meal, also in the Lawrence School cafeteria, is one of the best: Clam chowder, hot pasta, fresh baked bread, salad, fruit, and juices are traditional. The food is plentiful and really good.

The awards ceremonies will be held at the Lawrence School auditorium, followed by the increasingly popular and not-to-be-missed New England Runner Magazine Post-Race Party at the Falmouth Inn. The party will feature live entertainment by the BaHa Brothers, and replenishing beverages provided by the Offshore Ale Company of Martha’s Vineyard. There is a lot to like about the Dunkin’ Donuts Cape Cod Marathon and New Balance Marathon Relay—before, during, and after the race.

Enter Early, Limited Fields for Both the Marathon and Relay
The relay has filled out by mid to late September every year for the past seven years. The marathon reached its limit for the last five. Race Director Courtney Bird advises runners to plan ahead and enter as early as possible. Check the event website for details regarding entry, directions, information on Falmouth and the Cape, lodging, race history, a tremendous list of sponsors, and much more:

Falmouth is Beautiful—You will Want to Stay
Falmouth is an historic, active and attractive resort town with a long maritime tradition. It is quintessential New England, with harbors and beaches, bogs and marshes, and a picture-postcard town center. There are also eight other villages within the town limits, including famous Woods Hole, home of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Falmouth was incorporated in 1686. The Falmouth Historical Society is located on the village green, and the Aquarium of the National Marine Fisheries Service is located in Woods Hole. Within the town’s borders, as with the Cape generally, lie areas of unspoiled natural beauty.

Once known for shipbuilding, fishing and whaling, it is now an attractive tourist destination and commercial center. Falmouth is located on the southwestern end of Cape Cod, 72 miles southeast of Boston and 239 miles east of New York. It is a large town in area, with 54.44 square miles in total, with 34,734 permanent residents.

It is from Woods Hole within Falmouth that you can catch the ferries out to Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. The Outer-Cape and Provincetown at the very tip offer a wonderful scenic tour. There is a newly paved rail trail bike path that goes some 60 miles from the Mid-Cape to Provincetown.
October is a great time to visit the Cape. It’s typically great running weather. Foliage season creates a unique beauty along the shore and the working farms are at harvest time. The weather will still be warm during the day with crisp nights. The summer tourists will be gone, but everything will still be open and hotel and rentals will be available at off-season rates.

They Will be Ready for You
Are you ready to run this race? Are you ready to train for a PR on a fabulously beautiful course? The challenge is also the charm. This event is unique because of its location, and the course is a pleasant pay back for all those training miles. Many people choose the Dunkin’ Donuts Cape Cod Marathon as their first marathon. Full marathon or relay with friends, this is an event you will remember, and one you will likely want to repeat. Old Cape Cod is awfully inviting. The scenery is fantastic – classic post-card-perfect Cape Cod. See you there!



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