The Great Bay Half Marathon—Be Part of this Popular Classic
The Great Bay Half Marathon sponsored by Exeter Hospital is one of those “must do” spring races in New England. The timing is right, the organization and amenities top notch, the course is outstanding, and with the Inspiration 5K there is something for everyone in this coastal New Hampshire tour, April 11, 2010 in Newmarket.
Posted Sunday, 28 March, 2010
This race is now in its fourth year, and it is a gem. In fact, it will be better than ever with 10% less hills according to Race Director Mike St. Laurent (AKA the LOCO Guy). And it has a new, terrific down slope finish on a closed Main Street—including a big time finish with a finish bridge and large crowd. This event has become a classic in only its fourth year, a regional magnet for many and a signature event for the folks at LOCO Running. The date is April 11, 2010; it will include a running division with an 11:00 a.m. start, and a walking division which will step off at 10:00 a.m. The accompanying Inspiration 5K allows everyone to get into the action. Race headquarters—Exeter Hospital Expo, packet/chip/bib pickup, bag check, post race showers--will be the Newmarket Junior-Senior High School, 213 South Main Street (Route 152), Newmarket, NH 03857. The start is only a quarter mile west of the high school.
The course is beautiful, especially this time of year when the entire Great Bay region explodes into spring buds and blossoms. And nearly all of it will be rural roads—very rural indeed--along the great estuary. You will love running along these lanes—especially at this time of year. The first two miles and last mile are in the historic town, and the rest along forested roads or immediately adjacent to Great Bay, along wildlife refuges and conservation areas with gorgeous views, with a two-mile out and back in a lovely residential neighborhood. There are a few hills on the course, less than before, but the highest point in the entire town is 281 feet and only half that along the course. Hills are challenging but small and climbs short; but this an intriguing route with great views of serene forest and the shoreline of Great Bay. Ancient stone walls line miles of these roads as they have since before the country was independent.
Exeter Hospital Health and Fitness Expo
There will be a Health and Fitness Expo in the high school gym the day before the race, on Saturday, April 10 from noon to 5:00 p.m. This will be the fourth annual expo, and you should take time to check it out. It is open to the public. This will also be an opportunity for number and chip pickup for all runners. Packet pickup will also be available race day morning, April 11 from 8:00 to 10:30 at the high school cafeteria and gym. Computer chip timing by Yankee Timing Company using the Chronotrack D-tag system will provide accurate and immediate results for all. The chips are light, disposable, and very accurate.
Awards and Amenities
The top three women and top three men in the half marathon will receive awards, of course, as will the first Newmarket finishers. They will have 5-year age groups with terrific prizes for age group winners. Additionally, the top three women and men in the walking division will receive awards, as will the first finishers 40-49, 50-59, and 60+ in the walking division. And of course everyone participating will receive a distinctive custom medal.
Additional race amenities include: Tech shirt to all registered half marathon finishers (nice cotton shirts for 5K participants); the Exeter Hospital Health and Fitness Expo; parking shuttles; plenty of porto-johns; D-tag chip timing; bag check (start and finish are in different locations); showers at the high school; and terrific post race party with Smuttynose brew and a good post race feed.
The Great Bay Half Marathon is part of the “Gone Loco Will Run for Beer Series”, which includes six races on or near the seacoast. For the Great Bay races the post race party will be at the nearby Riverworks Tavern and Stone Church venue with kegs of Smuttynose available to thirsty runners.
Go to the Website
Please check their outstanding race Website for details, including directions, accommodations, a course map and information, parking instructions and suggestions, hats and shirts, charities, sponsorship, forums, average weather conditions, registration, expo, awards, and more: http://www.greatbayhalf.com/
About the Revised Course
The course is USATF-certified. Runners will head east on South Main at the start, heading toward the center of town. This year the first two miles loop through town before heading out into Durham and along the shore of Great Bay on the big rural loop. Elm Street intersects North Main just south of the Lamprey River, and the bridge carries runners over the river and above the Lamprey Falls, which powered the entire mill complex. Just beyond the river, the course turns right on Dame Road, a quiet, scenic, forest-lined country lane. Dame Road crosses the town line into Durham at about three miles, and shortly thereafter the road turns from asphalt to hard packed dirt and gravel.
This section is terrific. It runs along a nature sanctuary, with pine trees dominating at first, and then several miles of the course are lined with majestic hemlock groves, the sweeping evergreens contrast with the mixed hardwoods. This area is an ideal wildlife habitat, with vernal pools and marshes visible among the trees. Granite outcroppings stand like monuments among the evergreens, and the road is lined with those famous stone walls that appear to be undisturbed since Newmarket was founded in 1727.
It is quiet and peaceful, with just enough roll to be invigorating. Dame Road intersects Bay Road just before the six-mile mark. A right turn on Bay Road takes runners southwest and parallel to the Great Bay shoreline. Just after turning on Bay Road, the course passes the Jackson Estuarine Laboratory (Adams Point Road), followed by a nice little hill at 6.5. Another hill around mile seven provides a terrific panoramic view of Great Bay. Bay Road is also lined with stone walls, with open fields for views—especially rewarding at the top of those little steep rises.
The course passes the Lubberland Creek Nature Conservancy area. There are many trails for running and hiking in this area, and you will want to return to explore. The Great Bay Office of the Nature Conservancy is on the left at 9 miles.
At 9.5 miles the course turns left on Cushing Road for a flat, quiet out-and-back on Moody Point; this totals 2.6 miles through a beautiful shoreline development. When runners return to Bay Road they will be beyond 12 miles with the bridge and North Main Street, the river, and the mills visible as you approach Main Street and the triumphant finish.
Be a Part of the Fourth Annual Great Bay Half Marathon
This race was terrific right out of the gate, and yet LOCO keeps working to make it better. This one is for everyone from the swiftest to the back of the pack runners and walkers; it is the same beautiful course for all. Think spring, and sign up for an outstanding running experience. Numbers will not be available for long because they will sell out. Please do not plan on race day registration. Do it now! Have a great run along Great Bay. We will see you there.