Fifth Annual Smuttynose Rockfest Marathon and Half Marathon at Hampton Beach, New Hampshire: Flat, Fast, Fun and Made Just for You
This is one of the flattest, fastest marathons in New England, and certainly one of the prettiest. Join the fun with live music, and great Smuttynose beer fresh from just down the street. New for 2012 this year the race is offering Lobster rolls and clam chowder to all finishers. It is your race, your way. The fifth annual Smuttynose Marathon, Half Marathon and Rockfest will run September 30, 2012.
Posted Wednesday, 12 September, 2012
Here is a wonderful marathon or half marathon that has it all--terrific nearly flat seaside course, great rockin' live music, excellent planning and preparation, and really special craft beer. Catch a rising star, a classic, with the LOCO crew that really knows racing. And my goodness how it has grown. This road race had 700 participants in its first year, 2008, and grew to 1,700 participants in its third year and 3,200 in 2011. And it will sell out this year at 5,000. Seriously, the demand has been phenomenal for both events. Talk with friends and teammates and suggest they set aside September 30, this year’s date for the Smuttynose Rockfest Marathon/Half Marathon at Hampton Beach, New Hampshire. And do it now. It may close very soon.
For its first two years, the Smuttynose Rockfest was a half marathon only, then the marathon was added in 2010. And, as the numbers indicate, the event has become one of the more popular stops on the fall New England road race schedule and one of New England’s better marathons and half marathons--and New Hampshire's largest. In 2011 it was one of the top four largest races of any kind in New Hampshire. For now the half marathon has more finishers than the marathon but followers of the local running scene are predicting the marathon will become one of the largest in New England. It is a great Boston qualifier and a wonderfully scenic course.
A closer look at what the Smuttynose Rockfest Marathon/Half Marathon has to offer explains its quick rise in popularity. With the race being held on the last weekend in September, it takes place right in the middle of autumn’s long distance race schedule. Whether running 13.1 or 26.2 miles, this is the perfect time to run those distances in New England as a tune-up or as a goal in itself. Smuttynose Rockfest gives long distance runners a chance to pick either a half marathon or marathon when the weather is ideal. Average temperatures at Hampton Beach for that weekend show a high of 67, low of 44 and the mean temperature for the day at 57. Conditions are right and the course is beautiful.
Then there is the oft stated success or lament: location, location, location! There are few long distance races with the ease of travel that Smuttynose Rockfest offers. Hampton Beach is about one hour from Boston and Portland, Maine and only 45 minutes from Manchester, N.H. Located just off routes I-95 and US Route One (north-south), and Route 101 (east-west), the race is an easy drive from points north, south, and west. And the thousands of runners who make up the rich running communities of New Hampshire and neighboring states will take advantage, just as they have the first four years.
This is a wonderful time to be at Hampton Beach! The crowds are gone and the beauty of the shore remains. With the race being held at the famous Hampton Beach, the event is also perfect for spectators. While the runners are on the course, family and friends can take a walk on the beach, grab something to eat, or visit one of the local shops.
Yes, it is good location. Check. The race is held during a great time of the year. Check. Anything else? Oh yeah, the course. There is no question that one of the incentives for running a fall marathon in New England is to qualify for a future Boston Marathon—the measure of the success of a marathon effort. With Boston’s new qualifying guidelines based on faster marathon times, a course that is ideal for a qualifier will be the race of choice, thus the demand for this event. Over 30% of the field qualified the last two years on a postcard perfect day. Wait, there’s more. After a slight modification to the course, this is the flattest course in New Hampshire for a Marathon and half marathon. Flat course. Check. The 50-state marathoners will be in town.
Another way this event is runner-friendly is the pacers. In both races there will be pacers for runners who want to run seven-thirty, eight minutes, eight-thirty, nine and nine –thirty minutes per mile. No wonder this race is expected to sell out its 5,000 entries.
In addition to the course being flat it will offer the bonus of being scenic. Much of the course is run along the coastline, with the rest in pastoral rural farm areas or quiet neighborhoods. It is no small wonder many a runner will be seen with his or her camera in tow. Many runners drive long distances just to train along these shores, it is that inspiring.
Let’s not forget the name of the race, Smuttynose Rockfest. What does that mean? Simply put a rocking party at the finish. After running 13.1 or 26.2 miles, runners are treated to a beer tent on one side of the finish area, live music on the other side, and plenty of refreshments in the middle, including lobster rolls, chowder, ice cream, Stonyfield Yogurt, Power bars and veggie soup. Smiles abound as runners wear their customized finisher’s medal and enjoy a great post-race atmosphere—it is a party, a festival. As a past participant put it, “I went to a party and a road race broke out.”
Is there anything the runners don’t get at this race? Technically, yes. It turns out marathoners don’t get the shirts the half marathoners get. That’s because the marathoners get a souvenir jacket instead, a very cool souvenir jacket!
The growth of the Smuttynose Rockfest event comes as no surprise when one examines who is behind all the excitement. Smuttynose Rockfest is another event produced by the good folks of LOCO Sports. Producers of many New England events, most in New Hampshire and Massachusetts, LOCO races have earned the reputation of being first class events and exceptionally runner friendly. From start to finish LOCO races take care of runners’ needs and then offer the extras, like great post-race parties. The LOCO name has become synonymous with the best races in the region and Smuttynose Rockfest is no exception. How else do you explain its tremendous growth in such a short time? The LOCO folks are, first and foremost, runners themselves; they participate in many events and look at their productions from the RUNNERS’ point of view.
The competition should be strong at the front of the pack. The list of half marathon winners include the 2010 Philadelphia Marathon winner, Dan Vassallo of Peabody, Massachusetts (two years in a row), and two of New Hampshire’s top runners, Tammie Robie of Milford, N.H. and Abby Gosling of Meredith, N.H. Former University of New Hampshire runner Casey Carroll of Dover, N.H. won the inaugural marathon in 2010.
Erin Flynn of Newton, MA (1:21:34) and Caitlin Sawyer of Dedham, MA (3:17:10) won the half and full respectively last year. Eric MacKnight of Newtown, Connecticut captured the men’s marathon crown in 2011 with 2:39:30.
It’s a road race, it’s a party, and it’s a happening. It’s the 2012 Smuttynose Rockfest Marathon/Half Marathon and it’s coming to beautiful Hampton Beach, New Hampshire on September 30, 2012.
We are going to Hampton Beach for this race! Check!
For more information on the Smuttynose Rockfest Marathon/Half Marathon go to http://www.hamptonrockfest.com