The 30th Annual New Bedford Half Marathon—The USATF-New England Grand Prix Begins Here
Get ready for a terrific half marathon in a great historic town along a storied harbor; the event has become a New England tradition—and the New England Championship.
Posted Monday, 5 February, 2007
The USATF-NE Grand Prix begins its 23rd year with the New Bedford Half Marathon in New Bedford, Massachusetts on March 18, 2007. The New Bedford Half Marathon is a race through maritime history and within a vibrant Southeast Coast community that has so much to offer. The city is inextricably tied to the sea, and the race reflects that. The beautiful natural harbor opens on Buzzards Bay. Ironically, the New England Grand Prix will close in October only a few miles away, across Buzzards Bay in Falmouth, Massachusetts, with the outstanding Dunkin’ Donuts Cape Cod Marathon. And oddly enough both of these bookend events will race for the 30th time this year. The City of New Bedford welcomes and respects runners. That, and terrific organization, explains why this event has been so successful for thirty years.
New Bedford Half Marathon
The 30th annual New Bedford Half Marathon serves as the USATF New England Half Marathon Championship for both individuals and teams, and is the first in a series of seven Grand Prix races. It will run in downtown New Bedford, an historic port on Rhode Island Sound. New Bedford displays its seafaring heritage with this course, running through the New Bedford Whaling National Historic Park, and overlooking the harbor, home to one of the most productive fishing fleets in the nation. And of course seafood will be a big part of the post-race celebration. 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. Of course, it goes without saying that you must run the first one in order to bag all seven.
One Heck of a Race Course
This is a fast, USATF-certified 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 what was once a small hill overlooking the beautiful natural harbor—a harbor that made New Bedford both rich and famous. The course turns east briefly on Route 6 (Kempton Street) before turning south on Sixth Street past the Fire Museum. It continues south to the “peninsula” for a terrific, scenic loop to Fort Rodman/Fort Taber via East Rodney French Boulevard (historic Butler Flats Light Station and Clark’s Point Light are in view), then West Rodney French Boulevard (great views of the Outer Harbor on both boulevards), followed by a stretch along Clarks Cove on Cove Road.
The course then heads north along Rockdale Avenue. This is ideal for spectators who can walk from the start to Rockdale (via Elm, Court, or Union Streets) to catch runners approaching the halfway mark. Rockdale ends at Hathaway Road, where the field goes right or east to Nauset Street, then back to Purchase Street for the stretch run heading south. This will be a closed, traffic free course, with seemingly the entire city, including police and fire departments, in support.
Although there are two sizable 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. Geoff Smith, famous British marathoner, holds the men’s course record of 1:02:05 (1986).
Last Year at New Bedford
Alene Reta, an Ethiopian living in New York City, took the overall win in 1:05:52, followed by another speedster training in New York, Kassahun Kabiso (1:06:03). Patrick Moulton of Pelham, New Hampshire and the BAA won the New England title with third place overall (1:06:25). The female champion was Nicole Kulikor-Hagobian of Hadley, Massachusetts. She captured the overall crown in 1:14:33. Alemtsehay Misganow, who also trains in New York, took second (1:17:16), followed by Kasie Enman of Huntington, Vermont (1:17:40).
The BAA, led by Kulikor-Hagobian and Moulton, won both the women’s and men’s open team championship, while the Whirlaway Racing Team won both the women’s and men’s masters.
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. 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.
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 Days Sports, Route 6, in Fairhaven, just across the bridge from New Bedford (noon to 4:00 p.m.). Runners can also register the morning of the race at the Sgt. Carney Academy, corner of Elm and Summer Streets, in New Bedford (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 2007 USATF-New England Grand Prix
Participants in the 23rd annual Grand Prix will experience quality events and excellent organization at each race. The Grand Prix provides variation in both distance and landscape: This is the first of two urban races, with the second of those being the Ollie Five in South Boston. Four of the other five races are rural small town tours held in the esteemed Merrimack Valley, hotbed of running. And the last one is an iconic American tourist destination—the Dunkin’ Donuts Cape Cod Marathon in Falmouth. All are tremendously well organized.
The Groton 10K is entering its 16th year, and the Harvard Apple Harvest Ramble is celebrating 15 years. Bedford Memorial 12K will run for the 33rd time, and the Ollie Five Miler in South Boston doubles that with 66 years of experience. Westford is the newcomer with seven years, but has excellent organization and sponsorship, and a great course.
The Cape Cod Marathon is the dean of the championship races. This will be the 21st time it has been named the New England Championship. The New Bedford Half Marathon is close behind, having hosted the championship as part of the Grand Prix 15 times. The Bedford Rotary 12K is a seven time USATF-NE championship event; the Ollie Five Mile is in its fourth consecutive year, and the Apple Harvest Ramble returns for its second turn in the Grand Prix. The Groton 10K and Westford 5K are hosting the championship and participating in the Grand Prix for the first time.
Here is the list of events for 2007:
Date Event Location Sunday, Mar 18 New Bedford Half Marathon New Bedford, MA
Sunday, Apr 29 Groton Road Race 10K Groton, MA
Sunday, May Westford Road Race 5K Westford, MA
Saturday, May 19 Bedford Rotary Memorial Road Race 12K Bedford, NH
Saturday, Sep 8 Ollie Road Race Five Mile South Boston, MA
Sunday, Sept 23 Harvard Apple Harvest Ramble 10 Mile Harvard, MA
Sunday, Oct 28 Dunkin’ Donuts Cape Cod Marathon Falmouth, MA
The City of New Bedford May Surprise You
New Bedford has approximately 93,743 residents and is the seventh largest city in Massachusetts. It has 24 square miles (62 square kilometers) and the seafaring tradition is unmistakable. It is in Bristol County, 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. It was home to Frederick Douglass, who came to New Bedford as a runaway slave recently out of Baltimore. Landing in New Bedford as Frederick Johnson, he changed his name, and became one of the nation’s foremost abolitionists and editors.
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 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.
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.
The Wampanoag tribe lived along the southeastern Massachusetts coast prior to European arrival, as well as throughout Rhode Island, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket. Some explorers and fisherman from the Old World visited during the 1500’s, but it was English explorer Bartholomew Gosnold who explored the area extensively in 1602. He first landed on Cuttyhunk Island (the southwestern most island in the string of the Elizabeth Islands that extend from the elbow of Cape Cod). He and his crew explored what are now New Bedford and its harbor, and much of the Cape from a base on Cuttyhunk. He named Cape Cod, and he named Martha’s Vineyard after his daughter; he also named the Elizabeth Islands after his queen. But his crew did not settle the area (this would have predated Jamestown and Plymouth). The permanent settlement of Dartmouth/New Bedford (Bedford Village) by the English came in 1652.
It gradually grew in importance as did the fishing fleet and the merchant fleet. During the Revolution it was attacked and partially destroyed by the British because there were so many Privateers fighting them from this home base. It was part of Dartmouth until 1787.
And then came whaling, originally driven by a group of Quakers. 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. Decline was also caused by many crewmen heading to California to find their fortune during the Gold Rush. And many ships were lost to Confederate raiders during the Civil War, and still others were confiscated and used by the Union navy. The last whaling voyage from New Bedford was in 1925. In addition, and overlapping this remarkable period of growth and prosperity, there were 30 companies operating about 70 cotton mills. These manufacturers employed nearly 40,000 people in New Bedford. Machinery and glass manufacturing were other large segments of the economy, and of course the fishing industry has flourished, although restrictions have reduced the number of working boats. In recent years tourism and healthcare have become important industries.
Join USATF and Challenge Yourself and Teammates
This is a great race. It is the first of seven unique opportunities. Each race will serve as a New England Championship. New England has more running clubs per square mile and more runners per capita than any other region of the country. It is no wonder New England leads all 57 USATF Associations when it comes to championship events and an outstanding Grand Prix Series. New Bedford is a big part of that tradition.
This is a runner-friendly, reasonably priced race that is very deserving of its championship status. See www.newbedfordhalfmarathon.com. Run the 2007 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; take advantage, take the challenge, and race the race.