New Hampshire’s Annual Millennium Mile—Downhill and Down Home, the Most Enjoyable Mile
May all your miles be downhill with the wind at your back! Usually this is a simple greeting to wish someone well. But in Londonderry, NH that is exactly what you get. On December 27, 2009, this one-mile contest is the highlight of the holiday running season.
Posted Friday, 13 November, 2009
It is quick, it is fun, and it is ideal for runners of all ages and abilities. This race is all downhill and heads south with the prevailing wind out of the north-northwest. It’s true! The eleventh annual Millennium Mile in Londonderry, New Hampshire will speed down Mammoth Road through the heart of the famous apple orchards with hundreds of runners of all sizes and paces celebrating the beginning of a New Year and new running season. Yankee Timing will use the new Chronotrack chip timing system, allowing for a wide open fast finish and accurate and immediate results. This convenient 2:00 p.m. start time allows everyone to enjoy their morning and run at the warmest time of day.
It is a run of all ages, and a fantastic bargain at $10.00 per person ($15.00 on race day) or $5.00 for kids 12 and under. And it is so much fun for all, especially the kids who get to run with parents (first race experience perhaps) and other adults, including some of the best runners in the USA and older runners in their 70’s and 80’s. The kids bring great energy to this happening and some older folks are still running strong and having great fun.
This is the place to be in New England on the Sunday before the New Year. You never know who might show up; Olympic medalist Deena Kastor appeared in the sixth annual edition. It is certain that some of the best runners of the region and around the USA will be there. Winners have come from 14 different states and several countries.
All ten previous races have been won in 4:00 minutes or under for the men, and 4:41 or less for the women. The course records belong to Amy Mortimer of West Roxbury, Massachusetts who ran 4:20 in 2005; and the men’s record is shared by Scott Anderson of Washington, D.C. who ran 3:51 in the inaugural in 1999, and former Hampstead, New Hampshire resident Andy Downin who equaled that mark in 2001. Masters records are held by Zofia Wieciorkowska of Stratford Connecticut (4:47 twice, 2004 and 2007) and Kent Lemme of Williamstown, Massachusetts (4:11, 2006). Last year the winners were Salome Kosgei of Kenya (4:35) and Abiyot Endale of Ethiopia (3:58).
There is a lot of interesting history at this race in only its 11th year. For example, the 2001 race was one of the most exciting and fast, as Andy Downin edged his brother Matt by one second with another former local Geoff Nickerson only two seconds back. And Daren Shearer of Florida also broke the four minute mark in fourth place. There have been 23 sub-four minute miles there. (Check the race Website for an interesting history, results, age group records, scholarship information, and much more.)
Race Co-founder and Race Director John Mortimer, former Londonderry resideant and now Cross Country and Track Coach at the University of Kentucky, won in an even 4:00 in 2004 with a one second margin over Derek Treadwell of California. Sean O’Brien of Tilton, New Hampshire won his second victory in 2008 (he also won in 2003). Andy Downin is the only other male athlete two win twice, taking back to back victories in 2000 and 2001, each time edging his brother Matt by one second. Amy Lyman of Framingham, Massachusetts won the first and second Millennium Mile. The Downins are also Co-founders of the race.
High profile athletes always come, mostly friends of the founders as with the inaugural; but this is a run for the people—whatever their pace, ability, or experience level.
Race Headquarters will be the Londonderry High School on Mammoth Road, adjacent to the start. Bib number and chip pickup will be available from noon to 1:45 p.m. Race day registration is available.
The course is very simple. It heads south on Mammoth Road for one mile—point to point—and it is very much downhill. Passing by some historic structures in the village on Londonderry, the course ends just south of the famous Mack Apples Farm, with much of the course adjacent to orchards. The first 400 to register will receive distinctive Millennium Mile T-shirts. The post race and awards will be back at the Londonderry High School gym.
Speaking of awards, they have a unique bonus plan for the first person to reach ¼ mile, then ½ mile, and ¾. There is a $500 bonus for a course record, and cash prizes for the first three females and first three males. Merchandise awards will be given to the first three finishers in 10-year age groups. Fittingly, they give an award to each boy and girl who wins their single age though 12-year-olds.
The first Millennium Mile was run on the last day of the previous Millennium, December 31, 1999. John Mortimer and the two Downin brothers were organizing a big New Years Eve/New Millennium party and realized, as top national class runners themselves, many of their friends and invited guests would be top runners; many of them All-Americans and Olympic Trials qualifiers. Naturally they sought a race to run on the 31st. Not finding one in close proximity, they decided to organize their own, and Mammoth Road seemed the obvious choice (part of the highly regarded Londonderry Old Home Days 5K course). Since the course was down hill, they thought it would be possible and significant if someone could break four minutes, which had never been done officially in New Hampshire.
Besides being a running community resource and a ton of fun, this race also serves another very important purpose: It is a primary source of funds for the Jack and June Mortimer Memorial Scholarship Fund.
Whatever you do on December 27th, do not miss this event. There are very few downhill one-mile races. This is your chance to try it out—something different for the holidays. Perhaps you will also have a tailwind. Join about 1,000 others who will enjoy this winter adventure. There have been some great athletes at the Millennium Mile, and it will be remembered as the first race for many and the mile PR for many more. How will you do in 2009? Set your PR and celebrate the running season; get set for 2010. Be a part of this unique opportunity.