Boston Prep 16-Miler: It Will Prepare You for Anything and Everything
This is a tough love course. It will beat the tar out of you and then make you feel good about it afterwards.
Posted Sunday, 18 January, 2004
Someone involved with certifying races once told me that there was zero change in elevation on a looped course. Apparently this naive fellow never ran the Boston Prep 16-Miler. If he had, he would think otherwise because there is surely more up then down on this fabled course. This race is arguably the toughest road race in New England.
"I don't sugar coat this course," says race director Dave Breeden. "It (the course) is not for the faint of heart," he adds with a certain degree of seriousness. Breeden, who has run in the race, decided three years ago that directing the event was easier than running in it! Now that is quite the statement if you consider the history of the event!
I don't sugar coat this course
Nine years ago Greater Derry Track Club (GDTC) members Jeff Litchfield and Rich DiSalvo came up with the idea for the event. They figured that anyone training for the Boston Marathon should be running around 16-miles by the end of January. Litchfield, who has a fondness for difficult runs (see Wet 'n' Wild in Sandown), tried to design a course that included every monster hill in the town of Derry. A quick glance at the course elevation map will show he was very successful with this task.
The difficulty of this course can only be surpassed by the challenge of the elements. Take for example the famous black ice year of 1998. As Hockomock Swamp Rat scribe Peter Wallen put it the "Bug-eyed, flailing-armed runners were dropping faster than Bermuda shorts at a nudist colony" (see Raw terror stalks 366 in Derry 16M). And then there was 1999 when the mercury flirted with sixty degrees (see Hills are our Friends). only to be followed by eight degrees in 2000 (see Promises to Keep). With an average temperature of 34-degrees over those two years, I guess the weather wasn't all that bad.
We got 3 inches of snow during the race
At the start of the Millennium, white out conditions prevailed. "We got 3 inches of snow during the race," reports Breeden. "The conditions were so bad that the police requested that the race be cancelled." However by the time the request was made, many runners had already arrived. This presented a dilemma because regardless of the cancellation hundreds of runners were going to run anyways. The GDTC reasoned that it would be unsafe to let these folks run unsupervised and the local authorities agreed. The race went off without a hitch and 348 hearty souls finished. This brings us to last year.
The winter of 2003, as most of us remember, was one of the nastiest on record. The temperature dropped below freezing in November and stayed there most of the winter. As the snow began piling up in Derry so did the concerns about runners' safety. The police worried that the snow pack would present traffic safety issues on the narrow roads. It was decided that a decision on whether to run would be made 48-hours before the race. Then the police decided a week before the race that road conditions were unsafe and cancelled the event. This is when the GDTC sprang into action. They petitioned the town council to override the decision and began a lobbying effort. "When we arrived for the hearing they had already pretty much decided in our favor," said Breeden. So with a beefed up police detail and a doubling of course monitors there were no incidents along the 16-mile route.
This is a trophy race. You can put it on your mantel like Mt. Washington
By now you are probably wondering why anyone would enter this event? For the same reason people climb Mt. Everest or journey to the Moon - the challenge! As Dave Breeden puts it "This is a trophy race. You can put it on your mantel like Mt. Washington. To finish is a badge of honor and runners love a challenge." Judging from how the race has grown over the years many runners are up to the challenge.
The race is also an excellent test for those preparing for the Boston Marathon. The course, which was once described as stuffing 26.2 miles into a 16-mile bag, will give you an indication of your fitness level. Even if you are not ready to race, it is an outstanding workout. The GDTC does an excellent job organizing the event. This is a group that is road tested and ready to handle any situation. Let's face it, they have had plenty of experience.
You will find that each mile is marked with a large and visible mile marker. Split callers are positioned every four miles and there is a digital clock at the halfway mark. There are four water/Gatorade stops at 3, 6, 9, & 12 miles. Cash prizes are awarded to the top 3 Overall Men/Women and divisional awards are given to the top 3 in the following categories: Under 19, 20-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59, 60-69, 70+, Open & Masters Clydesdale 200lbs+ and Open & Masters Filly 140 lbs.+. Bay State Timing Service will provide computerized results.
The after race food includes pastries, pizza, chili, chicken soup, drinks and coffee. The optional long sleeve t-shirt (only $5) features the course elevation map on the back. This is sure to become a collector's item.
This is one race you will want to enter early. Why? The answer is simple - parking. You see there is limited parking at the race site so the race only allows 600 entrants. As of this writing a quarter of the field is already filled. With this year's event being part of the Hockomock Grand Prix Series it is sure to fill-up, so get your entry in early. (Note: if you enter online you save $2 on the entry fee.) So if you are looking to test your limits the Boston Prep 16-Miler is where you will want to be on January 25, 2004.
Weekend Before Hunting Season 9.5M Trail Race
Hills are our friends
Promises to Keep
Raw terror stalks 366 in Derry 16M