Run the Boston Prep 16 Miler and Test Your Sanity
Are you ready to start the New Year off right? Running Boston Prep 16 Miler on Sunday, January 24, 2010, is the way to do it. Test your ability and leave friends and family questioning your sanity on this “moderately challenging” course in Derry, New Hampshire.
Posted Tuesday, 27 October, 2009
“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results,” Albert Einstein supposedly remarked. I’ve run the Boston Prep 16 a few times now, each time questioning my sanity and each time finishing in a different time. But I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s not just me; Boston Prep is the insane part of this equation and other past participants likely agree. Don’t get me wrong—this isn’t at all a bad thing. Runners crave races that get our hearts pumping. Want a different challenge? We want people to tell us we can’t, just to prove that we can. We often teeter on that edge of reason and insanity. Running a long-distance race throughout the rolling hills and back roads of Derry in the middle of the New Hampshire winter? Where do I sign up? And why? Go the the event website now.
True, Boston Prep is a race to test your will. It’s also a well-organized, carefully planned and executed 15-year-long tradition in the New England running circuit. There aren’t many 16-mile races out there—especially at the end of January—and there’s definitely only one Boston Prep.
Be sure to sign up early, though. This race is limited to a field of 800 runners and it fills up every year—usually by the beginning of January, says race director Dave Breeden of the Greater Derry Track Club. Remember: If you’re running a late winter or spring marathon, this race fits perfectly on your training calendar. And if you’re running Boston Marathon in April, there’s no better way to ramp up your training and test your fitness level.
A Course Even Norman Rockwell Would Love
Derry Village School on Route 28 in Derry is the race headquarters for registration, packet pick up and post race festivities, and where runners hang out, stretch, nervously tie and retie laces and stay warm before heading over to nearby Humphrey Road for the start. Once that starting gun goes off at 10:00 a.m., it is go time! Head down Humphrey Road and turn right onto Island Pond Rd., then a quick left onto Stark Road.
As you’re warming up on these first few miles, take your time, look around and soak in some of the beautiful and classic New Hampshire scenery. It’s like a Norman Rockwell painting…that was infiltrated by about 800 runners. The course starts out at a bit of a downhill for the first few miles, but don’t get overconfident—there’s a reason why this race is labeled as “moderately challenging.”
Just after mile 4, you’ll run through the quiet neighborhoods of Kilrea and Gulf Roads with just a couple small rolling hills. Miles 7 to 9 on Bartlett and Island Pond Roads give you two enjoyable miles of flat pavement before turning left onto the steep—but short—Drew Hill Road at about mile 9.1. If you enjoy that last uphill, you’re in luck because there are more to come!
After mile 10, you’ll come face-to-face with Warner Hill Road. This portion of the race is about where Einstein’s quote rings in my ears. Each time I run this race, I think, “Maybe that hill will be a little shorter this time. Maybe they did some roadwork to flatten out Warner Hill?” No such luck. The hill is there, no matter how many times I run this race. But it wouldn’t be Boston Prep without it.
Just after mile 14, you can enjoy some flat roads again as you enter the village of East Derry. This also brings you to another ideal New Hampshire town center—with historic homes, a general store and the town library. Take it all in. You’re in the final miles and you’re nearly to the finish line.
Don’t start your final sprint just yet, though. A race this famous wouldn’t hand you those last two miles on a silver platter. Remember that bit of downhill at the start? Well, you’re about to relive it backwards. Turn back onto Humphrey Road and head uphill to Route 28, where you can start that final kick and surge up the short, but steep hill to the finish line. One final right turn past cheering crowds and you’re heading through the chute at the West Running Brook School, adjacent to race headquarters at Derry village School.
Day-of registration is $50, but don’t count on this being available. There will be at least four water stops along the course with cold (possibly icy) water and Gatorade; sports gel will be available at the halfway point. There is also a three-hour course time limit for the race. Get more details and view the full course map online at http://www.coolrunning.com/major/10/bostonprep/
A Few More Reasons to Run
If the privilege of running a challenging long-distance race with terrific volunteers through a beautiful and challenging course isn’t enough for you, there are some other benefits. All pre-registered runners will receive a gender-specific long-sleeve wicking race shirt and a finisher’s prize once you cross that finish line.
“You won’t get a finisher’s medal,” said Breeden. “But you’ll get something unique. I like to give prizes that people can use again.” In previous years, finishers have received gloves, ear warmers and hats. Breeden is keeping mum about what finishers will get this year. That just gives you one more thing to look forward to on January 24, 2010. Top finishers will receive prizes like fleece jackets and sweatshirts; age group winners go home with a useful, often N.H. themed prize like maple syrup.
One of the best post-race rewards is waiting back at Derry Village Elementary School for all runners—no matter your finish time—the post-race feast. Greater Derry Track Club http://www.gdtc.org/ serves up an awesome spread of hot soup, freshly made and hand-rolled hummus wraps, pizza, cookies, brownies, hot coffee and other drinks.
Sign Up and Get Ready to Run!
Part of the fun (and challenge) of running Boston Prep is the weather. It’s January in New Hampshire. Anything can happen, so be prepared for it. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it will be cold and snowy. Temperatures at the starting line in 2004 were 60-degrees.
The snow date for this race is Sunday, January 31, 2010, but it’s a rare occurrence that Breeden reschedules. In its 15-year history, Breeden said this race has only used that ‘rain date’ once. It’s pretty much a guarantee that this rain-or-shine-or-snow-or-sleet-or-ice race (You see where I’m going here, right?) will go on despite the conditions.
Are you looking to jump into winter feet-first? Are you looking to be a recent entry into a 15-year New Hampshire tradition? Or are you planning to test your sanity and run your 5th, 10th or possibly your 15th Boston Prep? Sign up now—a race this great (and perfectly situated on the calendar) is sure to sell out fast. I’ll see you out on the course; and remember, conditions and results may vary—part of the fun of long distance in New Hampshire.