The Second Annual Wallis Sands Half Marathon—Oceanside Course and Outstanding Organization
When a new race sells out as this one did in 2011, they have done a great job. They have a beautiful course, outstanding amenities, five-year age groups, Techwick T's, professional photography, and super post race food. Running May 6, 2012, beginning and ending at scenic Wallis Sands State Beach.
Posted Tuesday, 14 February, 2012
The coast of New Hampshire is beautiful in spring, and it is a great place to run. Ocean views dominate much of the course, combined with the quintessential New Hampshire village of Rye and a lot of rural roads in a terrific clockwise loop. Running on May 6 from Wallis Sands State Park and State Beach, this half marathon travels along Ocean Boulevard (famous Route 1A) along the New Hampshire seacoast. The Wallis Sands Half Marathon sold out last spring, and likely will again as it is limited to only 1,000 participants. And it is conveniently located just minutes south of quaint Portsmouth, New Hampshire with its many eclectic shops and fine restaurants. Wallis Sands is about an hour north of Boston and 45 minutes from Manchester, New Hampshire; an hour south of Portland, Maine and right off Interstate 95.
The race will include a running division with an 8:00 a.m. start time (in waves according to estimated finish time), and a walking division, which will step off half hour earlier at 7:30 a.m. These start times are earlier than last year, and the wave start is designed to keep crowding to a minimum, especially until runners make their way through the town of Rye. Race headquarters will be the Wallis Sands State Park/State Beach, 1035 Ocean Blvd., Rye, New Hampshire, 03870. For your convenience there will be packet pick up available on Saturday, May 5th from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m., and again on race morning from 6:30 to 7:45 a.m.
This race has many attractions: a scenic and convenient location with plenty of parking, and it takes place during a wonderful season for a half marathon. But the real draw is the charming region and coastal beauty. Early May is a wonderful time of year in New Hampshire, and the scent of salt air mixing with the myriad aroma of blossoms and flora along the course will create a sensory-pleasing experience at this event. Views of the surf and the distant Isles of Shoals make for a great start and finish area, and a terrific venue.
This USATF-sanctioned course runs a clockwise loop (opposite of the counter-clockwise set last year) with nearly half the miles directly along the Atlantic, with half on rural or village roads along the inland pathways of the town of Rye. You will love running along these roads—especially at this time of year when the entire region explodes into spring buds and blossoms—it is stimulating, invigorating, and inspiring; a great time of year to run along the coast. http://www.wallissandshalfmarathon.com/index.htm
Running or Walking, a Course to Enjoy
This Half Marathon course starts and finishes at gorgeous Wallis Sands State Park and winds along the seashore and residential roads and farms with gardens, fields and trees lining many miles. Tidal marshes and wetlands will also be in evidence. The race begins heading south along Ocean Boulevard or Route 1A, one of the most storied and beautiful sections on the east coast—visitors come from all over the USA and many other countries to enjoy this view. You will see it up close and personal as you head south with the ocean off your left with Massacre Swamp on your right (mostly undeveloped along this stretch).
This will be an intriguing route that runs adjacent to the shore for the first several miles on Ocean Boulevard except for a brief turnoff on Lock Road to the left and then a short stretch on Old Beach Road before resuming the southbound course on Ocean Boulevard and along Rye Harbor State Park. The field will head south about 4.0 miles before turning right near Jenness Beach to head inland or west on Perkins Road, heading into the village of Rye on Central Road. After the village the course follows Washington Road, Long John Road, and Clark Road before turning on Bracket Road, which brings runners out just beyond Odiorne Point and Little Harbor. The course then turns right on Pioneer Road just beyond Odiorne, the third state park on the course. From there runners head east and then south on Ocean Boulevard (Route 1A) along the ocean back to Wallis Sands State Park and a triumphant finish.
There are a few mild hills on the course in the middle miles, but the highest point on the course is just over 80 feet, and of course most of it is near sea level. (The highest point in the entire town is 151 feet, Breakfast Hill.) So hills are small and climbs short. There is a lot to see along the way, including Rye Harbor itself which will shimmer off the left, with many boats used for pleasure, lobstering, deep sea fishing, and whale watching; it is a picture-postcard pretty spot.
There is a great course map on the Race Website, so check it out: http://www.wallissandshalfmarathon.com/course.htm
Awards, Amenities and Age Groups
There will be medals for the top three overall and top three age group winners in five-year age groups from 15 through 75, as well as Clydesdale/Athena division winners. Everyone who registers by April 1 is guaranteed to receive a terrific Techwick T-shirt--in men's and women's sizes. Each person gets a goodie bag on check in and terrific post race food and refreshments will keep the celebration going. There will be five themed water stops with porto-johns and Gatorade--and cheering, competing water station volunteers hoping to cheer and serve the runners best (a post race survey will decide which deserving charity gets the extra bonus donation). Professional photographers will take many photos which can then be downloaded for free by participants. Chronotrack timing will insure early and accurate results. There is a lot to like with this one.
There will be excellent food and refreshments for all, including volunteers. Check out the website for enjoyable volunteer opportunities and get involved rather than just stand around waiting for the friend or loved one to finish. Be a part of it. Without volunteers there would be very few road races. And Volunteers get a terrific Wallis Sands race T-shirt, food and refreshments along with the runners.
Contacts and the Organization
This event is brought to you by Pursuit Racing, a race management company now in their third year. It was founded by Mike Murray and Stephanie Ridge of Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Mike, a Gloucester, Massachusetts native and three-time Iron Man finisher, has competed in multiple racing and triathlon events around New England and the USA. Steph is an avid fitness enthusiast, rock climber and former Boston College Ice Hockey player. Steph and Mike also produce the Twin Lights Half Marathon (Rockport and Gloucester, Massachusetts, on May 12), and the Trek Portsmouth Wallis Sands Triathlon in September. As athletes themselves, they have really strived to put on a fun and rewarding race for you. You will not be disappointed. For information on any aspect of the race, participation or volunteering, contact Race Director Stephanie Ridge at firstname.lastname@example.org. Pursuit Racing is headquartered in Portsmouth, NH (P.O. Box 208, Portsmouth, NH 03802.
Wallis Sands and Rye, New Hampshire
This race will introduce Wallis Sands and Rye to many runners, a small town with a rich history and distinctive New England character. Rye has three state parks, probably the only town in New England with that distinction: Wallis Sands, Rye Harbor, and Odiorne Point State Parks. Interestingly, four of the famous Isles of Shoals belong to the town of Rye (the others belong to Maine). Rye has fewer than 6,000 full time residents, so there is a small town atmosphere. The first week of May is a great time to explore this region, whether running or walking; it is still quiet and this event takes place well before the beginning of the tourist season around Memorial Day. The roads will be open to cars during the race, but traffic at this time will be minimal. It will be a quiet, lovely time along the Atlantic Ocean. Of 35.5 total square miles, only 12.6 square miles of the town are land; the other 22.9 is marsh and protected wetlands, which makes this such a scenic and wonderful running course.
Wallis Sands State Park/Beach is very popular during the summer and boasts a large parking area; extra parking will be available along the roads adjacent to the Wallis Sands Parking lot. It has a bathhouse and great sandy beach, and if the weather is right it could be a sunbathing day as early as race date.
Wallis Sands, Ideal Half Marathon—Be There
This is a terrific place to run or walk, and last May Pursuit Racing proved what a great half marathon they could provide for the New England Running community. Wallis Sands, Rye, and Odiorne State Parks are not only beautiful, pleasant natural areas, but also this region is a major tourist destination. And you get a chance to enjoy it at an ideal time—with spring exploding, comfortable weather, and relatively quiet roads! It is a mixture of rocky shoreline, salt marshes, open fields, forested waters edge, and tidal waters, farms and residences--and of course, that beautiful beach. It provides scenic views from many locations along the shore, including beaches, rocky outcroppings, and lovely homes.
This is one of the most picturesque shore areas in New England; especially with the ocean panoramas, scenic roads, intriguing byways and off-shore islands.
Check the race website for details, including course description and maps, directions and parking, the schedule, volunteer opportunities, results, great photos, and FAQ's. Join us on May 6th, and enjoy the second annual Wallis Sands Half Marathon. Have a terrific run along the Atlantic and through the historic village of Rye. Register now and be sure you are at the starting line.