The Fred Brown Relay around Lake Winnipesaukee: There's no joking that it's the best relay in town.
What has eight legs runs through seven towns and around the largest lake in New Hampshire?
Posted Tuesday, 21 April, 2009
This must-do relay guarantees a day of fun for veteran runners and those just looking for a little exercise and a good time. Often compared to the Boston Marathon, Falmouth Road Race and other New England classics, The Fred Brown Relay, once known as Plymouth Rock to Provicetown Relay, will continue its long tradition of success on September 26, 2009. The only thing that changes from year to year is the T-shirt color, which is always kept under wraps until race day. Everything else is the same, why tamper with perfection?
The excitement of passing a baton for 65 miles through the scenic Lakes Region is enough to keep runners coming back. Only a two hour drive from Boston makes it commutable in one day. Or stay the weekend and enjoy the peace and tranquility of autumn in New Hampshire. Scheduled conveniently, post peak season and pre peek season, accommodations are plentiful and rates are reasonable.
The day begins with Jeff Gould and other members of the North Medford Club, making sure the course is well marked, including plenty of water stops on the longer legs. Shuttle buses are provided for legs that do not have adequate parking areas. The race starts and finishes at the lower parking lot of Fun Spot, equipped with barbeque pits for the post race tailgate parties.
The course is challenging and spectacular, with beautiful views of lakes, mountains and quaint New Hampshire villages. Each leg offers something different in terms of terrain and scenery.
The course: charming, yet challenging
The first leg is 10.7 miles, bringing you through the Weirs Beach boardwalk area, over rolling hills with a panoramic view, concluding at the Arlberg Ski shop at the base of Gunstock Ski area. Here the baton is passed to the second runner, who will begin the longest leg of the relay – 11 miles. You won’t notice the distance, however, because with it comes the beautiful backdrop of enchanting New Hampshire. The challenging hills at the beginning make way for a gentle downhill finish to the Bandstand at Alton Bay, where you’ll meet the third runner.
The third leg – 9.3 miles -- contains the famous, or infamous, depending how you see it, Bear Hill Road. The most competitive runners have been known to walk up the 11 percent incline that continues climbing for about three quarters of a mile, but, hey, you might not have to. Either way, you’ll be happy to see Kingswood Regional High School in Wolfeboro, where you’ll pass the baton to the fourth runner on your team. Ah, finally, a flat leg. This is where you’ll want to put a novice runner or someone coming off an injury. This leg is 4 miles or easy running, finishing at the Abenaki Ski Area. This is no parking at Abernaki Ski Area, but there will be shuttle buses bringing runners back to Kingswood Regional High School. It is important for runners to stay on the sidewalk when passing through downtown Wolfeboro; police will take notice. The fifth leg runs through the wooded area of Wolfeboro and Tuftonboro for 10.8 miles, finishing at the notorious Morgan Farm. Again, there is no parking available at the farm; however, shuttle buses are provided.
What has two legs and drops for 6.4 miles without getting hurt? Give up? The sixth runner. This is the fastest leg of the entire relay – 6.4 miles of primarily downhill running, with a few small hills thrown in for variety. As you coast down the last slope to the exchange zone at the Moultonboro School, you’ll wonder where the time went. However, what goes up, must go down, and the other way around on leg seven. There are no flat areas on this 8.5 mile leg, finishing with a down hill run to Interlakes High School in Meredith. Here’s where you’ll pass the baton to your anchor. Don’t be fooled by the distance of this last leg. These final 4.4 miles have determined the race for many teams in the past. The scenery is probably the best you’ll experience throughout the entire relay, but unfortunately, you might not have the energy to appreciate it. As you climb the last hill to the end, it will all be worth it as your teammate cheer you on to the finish line at Fun Spot’s lower parking lot. Let the party begin!
The North Medford Club has continued to play a vital role in the development of road racing and running in general. The success and longevity of The Fred Brown Relay around Lake Winnipesaukee is just another example of their commitment to the sport as well as their passion for sponsoring victorious running events. The relay accepts no sponsorship money and is run as a non-profit, with proceeds going to various charitable organizations. So, gather up your friends, family and coworkers, and start planning now for one of the most spectacular relays in the country.
Okay, last joke: what has 16 legs and more energy than that annoying bunny banging on the drum? Give up? You and your teammates dancing the night away at the Smokehouse Restaurant after an exhilarating day on the roads.