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home > races/results > usa: new hampshire > the sixth annual great bay half marathon—outstanding spring distance run with 5k too

The Sixth Annual Great Bay Half Marathon—Outstanding Spring Distance Run with 5K Too
Be a part of this outstanding event with two races on April 7, 2012. It is brought to you by the folks at LOCO, and they offer outstanding organization and a beautiful rural course along Great Bay, one of the largest salt water estuaries on the Atlantic. Enjoy the famous Great Bay Half Marathon or the Beyond the Rainbow 5K, Newmarket, New Hampshire. The Great Bay region is beautiful in early spring, a designated scenic byway.

The Sixth Annual Great Bay Half Marathon—Outstanding Spring Distance Run with 5K Too

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By Andy Schachat
Posted Monday, 26 March, 2012

The course is beautiful, with rural roads and incredible views of Great Bay. It is challenging, with roller coaster hills, but has a terrific downhill finish in downtown Newmarket. Enjoy the great post-race party in Schanda Park, a riverside respite just off Main Street with New Hampshire’s own Smuttynose beer and Stonyfield yogurt, and more beautiful waterfront views.

Running near the coast in the state of New Hampshire, just an hour's drive from Boston, these races are a happening for the whole family taking place the first weekend of April. Hundreds of runners and walkers of all abilities will gather for the sixth annual Great Bay Half Marathon, sponsored by the Exeter Hospital in Newmarket, New Hampshire. Both races will run on Saturday, April 7th, 2012. Yes, it is one of those “something for everyone” events, which is probably why the race has become so popular in only six years. In its first year, 2007, over 1,700 runners and walkers took part. And the race has been part of the New Hampshire “1,000 club” ever since (the name given to Granite State races that have over 1,000 finishers). And it continues to grow. It is very runner and walker friendly, and about as much fun as you can have at a spring race.

All pre-registered runners in the half marathon are entered in a raffle, and the grand prize is a Cannondale bicycle, the Quick 5. This bike is valued at over $600 (Mike LOCO rides one) and will be ideal for cross training on both roads and trails. It will be custom fitted for you—see the website for details.

The Great Bay Half Marathon and Beyond the Rainbow 5K are organized by LOCO, the organization that now produces a number of outstanding races throughout New England. With LOCO having established a strong reputation over the past few years, participants can rest assured the race is in capable hands. From start to finish the entire weekend will be a professionally organized event.

The LOCO approach to the Great Bay Half Marathon weekend insures that participants are being well taken care of. There are custom technical shirts and custom finishers’ medals to all half marathon participants, while 5K participants receive short-sleeved cotton shirts. And the races will be professional timed by Yankee Timing using the Chronotrack B-tag system, including a start mat for a super accurate net time. A post-race party will provide runners with plenty of refreshments, including Smuttynose craft beers and Stonyfield yogurt. As for the awards, the top three males and females overall and top three finishers in 5-year age categories will receive prizes in the half marathon. The Beyond the Rainbow 5K will go three deep in 10-year age groups.

While the Great Bay Half Marathon was well liked in its initial years, runners will like the change in the course two years ago. It runs from Newmarket, an historic mill town, into Durham and back, along the fabled Great Bay estuary. Course adjustments resulted in what has been called “Great Bay Lite”, a course that has ten percent less hills than in the first three years. The finish line has been moved from Newmarket High School to downtown Newmarket, making for a really terrific downhill finish, a spectator friendly atmosphere, and a post race party near the water. With music blaring, an announcer calling out runner’s names, and spectators lining the finish area, runners are treated to a unique finish for their run and post race celebration. And the 5K participants get to experience the same big time race finish—and post race celebration!

In addition to the Main Street finish, runners will really love the rest of the course. The first two miles and last mile are in historic downtown Newmarket (over 80 structures on the National Register of Historic Places), and the rest of the half marathon runs along forested roads as well as lanes adjacent to Great Bay, and through wildlife refuges and conservation areas. There are gorgeous views along with a two-mile out and back loop in a lovely residential neighborhood.

There are a few hills on the course but the highest point on the course is only 140 feet. Hills are challenging, but small and climbs short. It actually feels good with the roller coaster up and down, which is much different than the average flat (sometimes boring) race course. This is an intriguing route with great views of serene forests, meadows and the shoreline of Great Bay. Ancient stone walls line miles of these roads as they have since colonial times. Both races start together and follow the same course for the first 2 ½ miles.

As noted, the Great Bay Half Marathon is more than a 13.1-mile road race. On race day runners can opt for the Beyond the Rainbow 5K, a run/walk event designed as a fund raiser for primary sponsor Exeter Hospital (nearby Exeter, N.H.) in the hospital’s fight against cancer. The addition of the 5K has greatly expanded participation and excitement for all runners and spectators.

Early number-pickup and late registration for half marathon (if available) and 5K runners and walkers will be available on Friday, April 6 from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. And of course your number and late registration will be available from 8:00 a.m. to 10:50 a.m. on race morning, April 7 (the start at 11:00 a.m. is about 1/3 mile from registration). Registration and pick up both days will be at the Newmarket High School, 231 South Main Street, Newmarket, NH 03857.

Over 6,000 runners and walkers have participated at Great Bay in the first five years, and this will undoubtedly be the largest field ever for both races.

Amenities include the very popular T-shirt for the half that has “These Legs Conquered the Great Bay Half Marathon” inscribed on the back. This shirt was introduced last year. These were so popular that they are back again for 2012. Helping out again this year will be the Core Physicians Group from Exeter Hospital and the Newmarket Fire and Rescue League. Other amenities include five hydration stations at 2, 4.5, 6.5, 9, and 11 miles. The stations at 4.5 and 9 will offer Gatorade. Plus Hammer Gel will be handed out at the 10K mark. Porto-johns will be placed at 5.8, 9.8 and 12.2 miles.

There will be pace groups provided to keep you on track for your goals. You will have a bag check at the High School with delivery to the finish area, which is really convenient. Showers are available at the school too.

Not only is there a post race celebration at Schanda Park (the now familiar big white tent will have food and beverages), but there are two following parties on Main Street at Riverworks and the American Legion—serving Smuttynose!

In its brief history the Great Bay Half Marathon has drawn a strong field. The winning time for the men has been around 1 hour, 15 minutes, with the women crossing the line around the 1:20-1:21 range. The race is also part of the ever popular "Will Run for Beer" Series, a menu of races in the New Hampshire seacoast region. Participants in the series earn points for each race toward prizes—and yes, beer at the end of the series. Hundreds will be at the Great Bay Half Marathon as series participants.

If you are looking for a good spring race held in a quaint, historic town, a race that has terrific amenities, organization, and a wonderfully scenic course; we will see you in Newmarket, New Hampshire on April 7, 2012. Thanks to Exeter Hospital and the many volunteers, the town Police and Fire Departments and to the other sponsors for making it all possible.

For more information on registration, directions, parking and shuttles, lodging, post race celebrations, medical support, the courses, contacts, sponsors, FAQ’s and more please go to



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