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home > races/results > usa: new hampshire > the wallis sands half marathon—new race along beautiful coastal new hampshire in early spring

The Wallis Sands Half Marathon—New Race Along Beautiful Coastal New Hampshire in Early Spring
Run a new half marathon along the picturesque New Hampshire shoreline on the first day of May—beginning and ending at scenic Wallis Sands State Park, a few miles south of Portsmouth.

The Wallis Sands Half Marathon—New Race Along Beautiful Coastal New Hampshire in Early Spring

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Active Running

By Skip Cleaver
Posted Monday, 14 February, 2011

Make sure you add this new race to your calendar--it will be a gem. Running on May 1 along the New Hampshire seacoast, the Wallis Sands Half Marathon will be a regional magnet for many—conveniently located about an hour north of Boston and 45 minutes from Manchester, New Hampshire; an hour south of Portland, Maine and right off Interstate 95. It will include a running division with a 10:00 a.m. start time, and a walking division, which will step off at 9:00 a.m. Race headquarters will be the Wallis Sands State Park/State Beach, 1035 Ocean Blvd., Rye, New Hampshire, 03870.

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 England, 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 and certified course runs a counter-clockwise loop 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.

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 north along 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.

This will be an intriguing route that runs adjacent to the shore for the first 2.7 miles before turning inland or south on Bracket Road just beyond Odiorne Point and Little Harbor. At about 4.3 miles the course turns right on Wallis Road, which turns into Washington Road. The course turns left just beyond the historic town hall on Central Road at about 6.5. 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.

The course turns left on Perkins Road at about 8.3 and comes back to Route 1A at Jenness Beach at nine miles. The course then heads north on Route 1A again along the shore for the last 4.1 miles. The runners will pass scenic Rye Harbor at 11 miles (deep sea fishing, whale watching, picture-postcard pretty spot). Except for a brief detour on Old Beach and Locke Roads, just north of Foss Beach, that last four is on beautiful Ocean Boulevard, Route 1A right back to Wallis Sands. There is a great course map on the Race Website, so check it out:

Registration and Amenities
Registration is available online on the race website at
Packet pickup and late registration will be available both Saturday, April 30, 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. and on race morning from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m. This will also be an opportunity for number and chip pickup for all runners, and offered conveniently on the day prior to ease your lines and hassle on race morning.

There will be cash prizes for the two winners and medals for age group winners and Clydesdale/Athena division winners. Everyone who registers by April 1 will receive a terrific Techwick T-shirt

Again, the walkers go off at 9:00 a.m., runners at 10:00, with the awards ceremony around 12:30 p.m. There will be excellent food and refreshments for all.

Volunteer-Enjoyable and Rewarding
Are you going to the race to watch a family member or friend? And would you like something to do? Or are you injured and not ready for this one as a participant? Volunteering is a great way to spend your morning, making the time pass quickly and doing something very important—and very rewarding. And Volunteers get a terrific Wallis Sands race T-shirt, food and refreshments along with the runners, and also get $10 off any Pursuit Racing event in 2011. Without volunteers road races would be impossible to put on with this kind of quality and organization. For information on volunteering contact

The Organization
This event is brought to you by a new event management company, Pursuit Racing, which 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 15), and the Wallis Sands Sprint 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.

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.

The first European settlement in New Hampshire was at Odiorne point in 1623 (Memorial marker there). And this spot also housed the terminus of the first transatlantic communications cable (1874), and there were key fortified defensive positions to protect Portsmouth harbor during the world wars Odiorne Point is also worth a tour). Rye remains a small town today, but at one time was a Victorian era vacation destination with large grand hotels.

Despite the current rural and small town atmosphere, residents of Rye enjoy close proximity to major New England cultural centers. Wallis Sands and Rye are easily accessible from Interstate 95 and Route 1 and centrally located about an hour equidistant from Boston, Portland, Maine, and Manchester, New Hampshire.

Wallis Sands State Park/Beach is very popular during the summer and boasts a large parking area. It has a bathhouse and great sand, and if the weather is right it could be a sunbathing day as early as race date.

Wallis Sands, Ideal Half Marathon—Be There for the Inaugural
For many reasons, this is a terrific place to run or walk. Rye and Wallis Sands State Park 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 quiet roads! It is a mixture of rocky shoreline, salt marshes, open fields, forested waters edge, and tidal waters, farms and residences. It provides beautiful views from many locations along the shore, including beaches, rocky outcroppings, and lovely homes.

New Hampshire has the shortest coastline of any US state bordering oceans, but it is one of the most picturesque; especially with the scenic roads, intriguing byways and off shore islands.

Check the race website for details and directions on how to get there. But do get there on May 1st, and help make some history. Have a terrific run along the Atlantic and through the historic village of Rye.



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