The Big Lake Half Marathon--Extraordinary Organization and Tremendous Natural Beauty Provide One of the Best
The Big Lake Half Marathon runs along the shore of Lake Winnipesaukee—“Beautiful Water in a High Place”. Bring family, friends, and teammates. This race is really special; it is innovative, and enjoyable. They have planned well for you!
Posted Monday, 21 February, 2005
Generating excitement and anticipation—that is what the Big Lake Half Marathon and Half Marathon Relay are doing as spring approaches! The Big Lake Half Marathon will run on Saturday, May 7, starting at 9:00 a.m. It is a special race in a striking place—Alton, Alton Bay, and the shores of Lake Winnipesaukee. You have heard the phrase, “Everyone is a winner,” an all too common cliché. But at Big Lake, indeed, this is true.
Rewards are there for all. And I am not talking about the more than 80 division awards, or the three Clydesdale divisions and the Filly awards, open and masters. I am not referring to the cash awards for the top five women and men overall, or the cash awards for the top male and female masters; or the beautiful T-shirts. I am not even speaking of the unique medals given to every finisher, compliments of MetroCast Cablevision. No, I am talking about the excitement, the enjoyment, the sense of accomplishment, and the thrill of participating in a terrific event in a splendidly beautiful region.
Big Lake, now entering its fourth year, has gained wide appeal. The top 10 overall and the age group winners represented four countries and 12 states. There were a terrifically high percentage of finishers—1,128 out of a registration of 1,200. Nobody wanted to miss this bash.
And Alton Bay is easy to get to. At the southernmost tip of the lake, Alton is only 43 miles from Manchester and the busy Manchester Airport; and it is less than two hours from Boston. Alton can be easily reached from either I-93 or I-95 (about 25 miles from each); it sits on the intersection of Routes 11, 140, and 28, as indicated on the Web Site.
This race will create memories. Picture the good times with new friends, the spirit of competition with teammates, and the enduring memories of having the family with you to share your accomplishment and a great time. The event is full of surprises and excitement. There will be at least 11 live bands along the course. The explosion of spring along the lake, the scents, emerging leaves and buds, along the southern-most arm of beautiful Winnipesaukee are rewards in themselves. And the changing season and natural beauty along this route are most appreciated by running.
This race is awesomely grand in so many ways, but there are only 1,200 numbers available. Many of those will be taken up by the exceptional demand from the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Team In Training program (the world’s largest training program—they choose events carefully), and many more by the big men and tall women who will run for the New England Championship of the USA Clydesdale and Filly Racing Federation. Apply early for Big Lake and be a part of it.
What it is: the race, the route.
The Big Lake Half Marathon starts near the main fire station in Alton on Letter S Road, just off Route 140 in the center of town. It then turns west on Route 11, sloping down toward Alton Bay and the lake. There is a net downhill, because shortly after heading down to the bay you pass the famous bandstand (where the post race party will be centered) and head along the shore past the finish line at the Community Center, formerly the Alton Bay train station.
The route heads east on Route 11, passing the entrance to Mount Major State Forest (about which, more later), along the shore of the Big Lake. Approaching the halfway point the course turns right on Route 11D (you pass the first entrance to 11D and go to the second). Another left on Woodland Drive incorporates a pleasant loop, before returning to 11D with another left turn. Then 11D returns to the main road (Route 11), the 11D intersection you passed the first time. Turning left or east on Route 11 takes you back to the finish at the Community Center, and a great post race spread.
There will be music, excitement, and energy along the course. Live music, and eight competing water/aid stations, all vying to be voted the best in the Big Lake Battle. They will cheer your every step and make you feel like an international star. Baggage will be transported the mile and one half between start and finish so runners will have a change of clothes. Plan accordingly.
Rod Viens of Sunapee, New Hampshire (1:11:22) and Abi Watras of Greensboro, Vermont (1:21:23) are the course record holders. Shannon Smith of Potsdam, NY (1:26:25) and Daniel Muhindi of Kenya (1:12:06) were the winners in 2004.
If the energy along the course is not enough, wait until you get back to the Community Center. The Center/Train Station, by the way, is located right on the lake shore, and is adjacent to the dock where the famous M/V Mount Washington arrives and departs for the far reaches of the other lakeside communities. Watch the activities in the harbor as you enjoy the music and take in the energy and excitement of a great day on the lake.
After refueling on Domino’s pizza, Jordan’s ice cream, Stonyfield Farm yogurt, and other goodies from McGrath Food Center, the finishers and spectators will head to the Alton Bay Bandstand for the Big Lake Bash. Race entrants will all have a shot at some great raffle prizes while waiting for the awards. And everyone will hear and enjoy live music by Paul Warnick—all immediately on the bay.
Who Makes This Possible?
Keith Jordan, Race Director and an accomplished triathlete and multi-sport athlete, is the Race Director, as well as the President of EndorFUN Sports, the administrator of the event. Jordan was awarded Race Director of the Year by USA Triathlon New England in 2002 for his extraordinary work in putting on the now-famous Timberman Triathlon. Jordan and his committee have put together quite a sponsorship and volunteer team for Big Lake to provide a terrific race for athletes at every level. Other events for EndorFUN include the Mooseman Triathlon, and the Granite Ledges Triathlon.
“We strive to make sure every athlete feel important, whether he or she finishes first or last, and to have fun,” said Jordan. “Our goal is to make EndorFUN events synonymous with high quality and enjoyment, and to exceed everyone’s expectations,” he said. They have done that, and will continue to do so with this 2005 version.
For Big Lake the ChampionChip will be in use, with timing provided by Granite State Race Services. Organizers cover all the details in this one. The chip will record official time and net time.
Audi is the series sponsor, and the other two presenting sponsors are Laconia Athletic and Swim Club and MetroCast. Gold sponsors include Fuel Belt, Carb Boom energy gel, Stonyfield—yogurt on a mission, Nutfield—New Hampshire’s natural spring water, Pepsi, Domino’s Pizza, Lakes Region VW-Audi, a B-Mae’s Resort Inn and Suites, E-Caps Endurance Supplements, Eastern Mountain Sports, Runners Alley, Clif Bar, Performance Training Systems, and Green Mountain Coffee.
Start it Off Right on Friday Night.
There is a pre-race dinner from 6:00 to 8:00 on Friday night, May 6th, the night before the race. It is an old-fashioned community meal, a really good time with good food. It will be held at the Alton Fire Department, sponsored by the Alton-New Durham Lions Club; it only costs $10 (proceeds to charity).
Come early and enjoy the sights and sounds of Alton, the bay, and the Lake. There is a lot to do in and around Alton, and you can get lots of good information in the community center, right where the race will end.
The Lake is Special.
Lake Winnipesaukee, meaning “Beautiful Water in a High Place”, or “Beautiful Deep Water in a High Place,” in native language is all that. It is the largest Lake in New Hampshire, and the largest entirely within New England. It is one of 270 lakes and ponds in the famous Lakes Region. It is 504 feet above sea level, covers 72 square miles (44,586 acres), has 182 miles of shoreline (it is a 65-mile run around it), and has 244 islands. It is spring fed. Raising the lake’s level one inch equals over one billion gallons of water.
The best view of Lake Winnipesaukee is from the top of Mount Major. The trail to the summit is five miles west of Alton, and at mile five (and 15K) on the racecourse. It is an easy hike for the entire family, but its 1,780-foot summit provides a fantastic panoramic view of the Lake with its bays, islands, and inlets, as well as the surrounding Ossipee and Squam Mountain Ranges. Hiking Mount Major’s trails is one of many enjoyable activities in the area.
Alton is a wonderful community of around 5,000 full time residents, with a much larger summer population. The Big Lake Race is held during a quiet and enjoyable period between seasons, and is most enjoyable in the spring. That is why Jordan chose May 7th. Alton has been a resort community since the mid 1800’s, with the establishment of rail lines from Boston. Passenger trains ran regularly until 1935. The town contains many historic buildings, including the Town Hall (1894). The harbor is always busy, with the mail boat and the Mount Washington, as well as a grand assortment of smaller craft. Alton is more than tourism, and has a strong industrial and farming tradition. Most of all, it is a great place to run.
You must experience this.
Come and run the race, enjoy then party, and leave with exciting memories of your run along the Big Lake.
Come to be entertained, fed, and rewarded. Entertainment will take several forms along the way, and the natural beauty of the location will be an enduring memory. Yes, it is a beautiful course, with terrific amenities. Every detail is covered so you can relax and enjoy the experience with friends and family.
Big Lake is the second of three races in the Tri-State Half Marathon Series (the first is the Hyannis Half Marathon this Sunday, February 27).
Fund raising is a part of the tradition at Big Lake and EndorFUN events. They have raised over $50,000, and runners are encouraged to get friends to support their adventure with pledges. EndorFUN has created the Athletes for Animals Foundation—they are animal lovers, and strongly committed to protecting them.
Please check the Web Site for more details on where to stay, what to do, registration, directions, divisions, charities, coaching, sponsors, and more. Mark the race date, May 7th, on your calendar. This is a grand and exciting event. It is worthy of the beautiful location, and you will be happy you were a part of it.