The Great Bay Half Marathon and Beyond the Rainbow 5K - Be Part of this Popular Classic
The Great Bay Half Marathon and accompanying 5K run April 7, 2013 in Newmarket and Durham, New Hampshire. The organization and amenities are top notch, the course is scenic and wonderful. With the 5K distance there is something for everyone in this coastal New Hampshire tour. It is sponsored by Exeter Hospital and Smuttynose Brewing, and is one of those "must do" spring races in New England.
Posted Tuesday, 2 April, 2013
This race is now in its seventh year, and it is a gem. That’s right, the seventh running on the seventh. This is a beautiful course which begins and ends in the lovely old mill town of Newmarket, and it is a course that has long been used for training by the folks at LOCO Sports. The course was changed in 2010 making it better than ever with 10% less hills according to Race Director Mike St. Laurent (AKA the LOCO Guy). And it has a terrific down slope finish on a closed Main Street—a finish bridge and large crowd with the post race celebrations only steps away in Schanda Park on the waterfront.
This event has become a classic for spring racing in New England, a regional magnet for many and a signature event for the folks at LOCO Sports. The date is April 7, 2013; with both races kicking off at an 11:00 a.m. start. The accompanying Beyond the Rainbow 5K allows everyone to get into the action. Race headquarters—packet/chip/bib pickup, bag check--will be the Newmarket Junior-Senior High School, 213 South Main Street (Route 152), Newmarket, NH 03857
The course is beautiful, especially this time of year when the entire Great Bay region explodes into spring buds and blossoms. And nearly all of it will be rural roads—very rural indeed--along the great estuary. Great Bay is the largest estuary on the east coast and the views are spectacular. You will love running along these roads—especially at this time of year.
The first two miles and last mile are in the historic town of Newmarket. The rest is along forested roads or immediately adjacent to Great Bay, beside wildlife refuges and conservation areas with gorgeous views. There are a few hills on the course, less than before, but still challenging. The highest point in the entire town is 281 feet and only half that along the course; still, there are some testers. Hills are challenging but small and climbs short, but it has become part of the allure. This is an intriguing route for many reasons with great views of serene forest and the shoreline of Great Bay. Ancient stone walls line miles of these roads as they have since before the country was independent.
Packet Pick Up and Amenities
There will be an opportunity to pick up your bib number and shirt in the high school gym the day before the race, on Saturday, April 6, from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. Packet pickup will also be available race day morning, April 7 from 8:00 to 11:00 a.m. in the high school gym. Computer chip timing by Yankee Timing Company using the Chronotrack B-tag system will provide accurate and immediate results for all. The chips are in the bib number, are light, disposable (or a keepsake), and very accurate.
There will be a bag check at the high school prior to the start, which is the same for both events—same time and location—and about 1/3 mile west of the school. Custom wicking T-shirts will be provided for all pre-registered half marathon runners, and half marathon participants receive a finisher’s medal upon crossing the finish line. The 5K runners receive a nice cotton T-shirt. The half marathon has five-year age groups, and the 5K has 10-year groups (see below). There are parking shuttles for before and after the race, although I like to use the time and distance as a warm-up on the way to packet pick-up and the start. There are plenty of porto-johns—at the start, finish, and along the course. There are five water stops along the course and every other one has Gatorade—with energy gel at mile 6.2.
Smuttynose is one of the sponsors and this race is part of the LOCO Will Run for Beer Series, so expect the food and refreshments at Schanda Park to be very satisfying—just look for the big white tent. It will be a terrific post race party with Smuttynose brew and a good post race feed including hot chili! And if the after-race festivities at the park are not enough, be sure to visit the After-after race party at two locations on Main Street: The Riverworks Tavern http://www.theriverworks.com or the American Legion Hall. The “Will Run for Beer” gang knows how to have fun, and LOCO makes sure that fun is available.
Please see the Race Website for details on the course (with course maps), registration information, awards details, FAQ’s, directions and parking, contacts, the medical team, lodging suggestions, post race plans, and more: www.greatbayhalf.com.
Awards and Rewards
The top 3 overall men and women will receive awards in both races. The half marathon will have 5-year age groups and the 5K will have 10 year age groups. Look for the Red Tent with the Awards Banner on it. You must be present to receive your award (awards will NOT be mailed out).
As noted, all registered runners in the half marathon will receive a tech-shirt and finishers get a beautiful medal; but the real reward is simply running this fabulous course.
Runners in the 5K will receive a cotton t-shirt.
About the Course
The course is USATF-certified. Runners will head east on South Main at the start, heading toward the center of town. The first two plus miles loop through town before heading out into Durham and along the shore of Great Bay on the big rural loop. Elm Street intersects North Main just south of the Lamprey River, and the bridge carries runners over the river and above the Lamprey Falls, which powered the entire mill complex. (Please note that the Beyond the Rainbow 5K starts with the half marathon and enjoys the first 2.5 miles along side the half before turning back to town for the downtown, Main Street finish.)
Just beyond the river, the course turns right on Dame Road, a quiet, scenic, forest-lined country lane. Dame Road crosses the town line into Durham at about three miles, and shortly thereafter the road turns from asphalt to hard packed dirt and gravel.
This section is terrific. It runs along a nature sanctuary, with pine trees dominating at first, and then several miles of the course are lined with majestic hemlock groves, the sweeping evergreens contrast with the mixed hardwoods. This area is an ideal wildlife habitat, with vernal pools and marshes visible among the trees. Granite outcroppings stand like monuments among the evergreens, and the road is lined with those famous stone walls that appear to be undisturbed since Newmarket was founded in 1727.
It is quiet and peaceful, with just enough roll to be invigorating—some would say challenging. Dame Road intersects Bay Road just before the six-mile mark. A right turn on Bay Road takes runners southwest and parallel to the Great Bay shoreline. Just after turning on Bay Road, the course passes the Jackson Estuarine Laboratory (Adams Point Road), followed by a nice little hill at 6.5. Another hill around mile seven provides a terrific panoramic view of Great Bay. Bay Road is also lined with stone walls, with open fields for views—especially rewarding at the top of those little steep rises.
The course passes the Lubberland Creek Nature Conservancy area. There are many trails for running and hiking in this area, and you will want to return to explore. The Great Bay Office of the Nature Conservancy is on the left at 9 miles.
At 9.8 miles the course turns left on Cushing Road for a flat, quiet out-and-back on Moody Point; this totals 2.3 miles through a beautiful shoreline development. When runners return to Bay Road they will be just beyond 12 miles with the bridge and North Main Street, the river, and the mills visible as you approach Main Street and the triumphant finish on a completely closed downtown.
Be a Part of the Seventh Annual Great Bay Half Marathon
This race was terrific right out of the gate, and yet LOCO keeps working to make it better and better. This one is for everyone from the swiftest to the back of the pack runners and walkers; it is the same beautiful course for all. Think spring, and sign up for an outstanding running experience—either half marathon or Beyond the Rainbow 5K. Numbers may not be available for long because they have a history of selling out—as do nearly all LOCO races. For example the recent Half at the Hamptons sold out very early; and the Smuttynose Rockfest Marathon and Half Marathon, October 6, will also sell out. This is your chance, but please do not plan on race day registration. Do it now! Have a great run along Great Bay. We will see you there.