Reach the Beach Relay -- Extraordinary Running Adventure
The seventh annual Reach the Beach Relay in New Hampshire will be a running experience like no other. Challenging, enjoyable, and defining, it is simply the event of the year for many teams and corporations from across the USA and Canada.
Posted Monday, 27 June, 2005
It is more than a race—it is a running adventure! The Reach the Beach Relay—September 16 and 17—is a must-do event for many runners across the country. With more than 200 miles of running in 24 hours, this is an adventure and a challenge that teammates will talk about in glowing terms many years from now. With 18 different divisions and a wave start, it is available to a wide variety of paces and inclusive for all—Corporate teams, ultra runners, running clubs, and just couples on a an adventure vacation. And it will be held at the beginning of the famous peak foliage season in northern New Hampshire. This adventure will make for a terrific getaway, as well as some beautiful, scenic, and challenging running.
There are only 300 exclusive team openings available on a first come, first registered basis. A limit on the number of teams is necessary in order to maintain the very high level of quality for the event, and insure there is enough space at transition areas. The 3,600 fortunate participants will compete in a highly planned, exceptionally well-organized relay race from the White Mountains to the Atlantic Ocean. The relay has grown each year, and this year will expand from 236 to 300 teams because of high demand from across the country. This is nearly double the 162 finishing teams of 2002.
The Relay will run from beautiful Bretton Woods, New Hampshire’s largest ski area, located in Crawford Notch in the heart of the White Mountains, to the shore of the Atlantic Ocean at Hampton Beach State Park. On Friday, September 16th, teams will set off in waves from the shadow of Mount Washington along rugged ski trails of Bretton Woods, to the summit at the ski area. To get things started, leg one will be, “The hardest 5K you will ever run”. From leg two at the Bretton Woods lodge, the course and the teams will then head generally southeast, through the mountains and storied lake country on their quest to “Reach the Beach”. The 12-person teams will run around the clock, completing 36 relay legs or stages, each with well-designed transfer points and rest areas. And on September 17th they will complete the last easy legs and celebrate victory on Hampton Beach.
What is Reach the Beach?
The Reach the Beach Relay Adventure includes 210.1 miles in 36 legs or stages. The relay is manageable for average runners, and challenging for elite runners. All 36 legs are scenic and enjoyable. The shortest leg is 3.1 miles (two), and the longest is 8.8 (two). The average for the 36 legs is 5.83 miles (the course is 210.1 total miles). Legs are categorized as easy, easy to moderate, moderate, moderate to hard, hard, very hard, and extremely hard. The very hard and extremely hard earn the tag because of a combination of hills and distance. Most of the legs (23) fall into the easy to moderate categories. Eleven legs are moderately hard to very hard, and just two are extremely hard—the first and the eighth legs. Safety concerns have the highest priority at all times.
The New Hampshire State Park system, one of the best in the nation, will be in evidence all along the course, including Echo Lake, Bear Brook, White Lake, Kingston, and Hampton Beach State Parks, for example. Some have campgrounds. Many of the 35 transition areas are in or near parks. Five very carefully selected vehicle transition areas (VTA’s—every six legs) provide plenty of space for parking, and all necessary facilities for hydration, rest, and refueling. Three of the VTA’s are located a State Parks, one at New Hampshire Technical College, and one at Kenneth Brett School. They will greatly simplify planning and logistics for teams.
The transition areas or handoff points are well planned and identifiable. They include schools, restaurants, town halls and offices, three ski areas, parks and Timberland Corporate headquarters.
The race will begin in waves, seeded by time, every 15 to 30 minutes, starting at 8:00 a.m. The last, fast teams will blast off at 6:00 p.m. playing team pursuit with 220 others. This spreads the field out for safety, and also assures that most will finish within a narrow window of time.
Who is Up to the Challenge?
The relay is open to club teams, corporate teams, neighborhood teams, schools, and just about all entities, including elite runners in the ultra divisions. There are 18 divisions in all—six for women, six for men, and six mixed. These groupings make this event available and competitive for all. Three corporate categories create tremendous opportunities for companies throughout the country to show their corporate colors with the ultimate team-building program. Running clubs, schools, and social organizations will all be represented from throughout the region, the USA, and Canada. For corporate and ultra divisions there are no age groups, but both include men’s, women’s, and mixed divisions. Unlike many races, this relay has a near 100% finishing rate. Only one tenth of 1% of teams the last three years failed to complete the entire course. There were 585 teams who did.
Most teams will enter 12 runners, each running three of the 36 legs. Teams with less than 12 (8 to 11) runners are welcome, but must run more legs to compensate. All teams run in sequential order. There is an “Ultra Division” of no more than 6 members (4 to 6), and they will run at least six legs each. The ultra category is the only one for which a runner can run consecutive legs. All others hand off in sequence. Individual runners may apply, and will be matched up with teams whenever possible.
Each member of a 12-person team will complete an average of 17.5 miles in three stages. Ultra runners will cover twice that. Most teams will finish within 28 hours. Fast teams will race at a six-minute pace, completing the 210.1 miles in 21 hours. A seven-minute pace takes 24 hours, thirty minutes; an eight-minute pace takes 28 hours, nine takes 31:30; and ten minutes will get teams to the beach in 35 hours.
Corporate competition has become an increasingly important part of the overall event. The three corporate divisions—open women, open men, and mixed open--have tremendous value for companies, not only as an adventure, but also as a company team-building program. Is your company ready to take advantage of this adventure? Employees can show corporate logos and banners, and use the event to develop employee fitness and wellness programs. There is no better morale builder. Corporate teams can compete within the company, as well as with other companies. Some have developed a training program with RTB as an annual goal.
Running clubs and other organizations from throughout the country will challenge in the open (under 30), masters (30-39) super masters (40-49), and grand masters (50 and over) divisions in all three categories. These four divisions are set for women, men, and mixed teams. More than 50% of the field the past two years has been made up of mixed divisions. Some clubs, as with companies, will send teams to compete with each other in friendly rivalry. Schools and social organizations will participate for the challenging experience, and many will use the event as a fundraiser.
Where is the Relay?
The start of the relay at Bretton Woods is accessible via Interstate 93 via Routes 3 and 302, and only 2 ½ hours from Boston—1/1/2 from Manchester Airport, a growing regional airport served by many airlines. The finish is only one hour from Boston, and 45 minutes from Manchester. The 210-mile relay adventure lies entirely within New Hampshire. The scenic beauty and panoramic views suggest remoteness, but it is easy to drive to. Mountainous and challenging in the early stages, the course becomes easier and flatter as teams approach the shore. The final five legs are rates as “easy”. It is, of course, a net downhill from the mountains to the sea.
The first five legs run along the flanks of the Presidential Range of the White Mountains, including Mount Washington, the highest peak in the northeast. The course leaves the mountains behind and traverses the beautiful Lakes Region of New Hampshire, including the shores of Silver Lake, Winnisquam, and Lake Winnipesaukee. New England hills, farms and villages will be breathtaking, as the colorful fall season begins, for which the area is famous. The carefully planned route will visit many quaint villages along the way, and all are welcoming to the runners. Many homes and structures have historical significance.
Hampton Beach and the finish line will be only 10 miles away when the ocean comes into view. The last two legs are immediately adjacent to the picturesque shore of the Atlantic. Hampton Beach and the celebration is only one mile from the Massachusetts border.
The entire team will likely cross the finish line with the final runner at the Hampton Beach State Park. Competitors, volunteers, and families will relax and exchange stories about the trek and its most memorable moments. The party will include plenty of food, massage, and music on the beach.
Eastern Mountain Sports—Major Sponsor
For Eastern Mountain Sports, partnering with this event is a perfect fit. They have a New England heritage. Nine of their 88 stores are located in the Granite State, with 17 more in neighboring Massachusetts. EMS will contribute volunteers and broad support for the race, including 3,600 of their patented Techwick long-sleeved T-shirts—one for every runner. The 210.1-mile course will pass many of the cliffs and ledges where the Eastern Mountain Sports Climbing School is active. The relay will bridge many streams where graduates of the EMS Kayaking School often ply the waters. EMS has entered several teams the last few years.
“This is a true community event all along the course, located in our home region,” stated EMS Marketing Manager Mark Van Saun. “It was the terrific organization and ambiance of the event that drew us to it,” said Van Saun. “Ours is a company that lives and breathes outdoor adventure, and that shows in our product development, and in our support of Reach the Beach,” he continued.
Of course, a surprising number of runners are also avid hikers, campers, kayakers, and climbers, making this an even better fit.
Eastern Mountain Sports was begun in 1967 in support of climbers, and has the oldest and largest climbing school in the northeast. They have stores from Maryland to Maine, and now four in Michigan and three in Colorado. They cover the entire country by offering shopping on-line. Their Web Sites include www.ems.com, www.emsclimb.com, and www.kayak-ems.com.
Other sponsors include Timberland, Bretton Woods Mountain Resort, Fuel Belt, Smartwool, and New Hampshire’s State Parks.
Proceeds from the race will benefit the New Hampshire State Park system and community organizations along the route.
Running Community Meets Race Route Community
The relay will be a community event, and planners are sensitive to the needs of each community visited along the way. Runners and volunteers will enjoy the hospitality of the communities along the route—night and day. Support and involvement from local clubs, organizations, and dozens of Girl Scout and Boy Scout Troops make all runners feel welcome—and make the relay possible. For example in Candia, leg 26, runners are treated to an all-you-can-eat breakfast, cooked by the Candia Volunteer Fire Department—beginning at 4 a.m.! This is right across the road from the handoff/transition area.
Co-Director Mike Dionne, who conceived the relay in 1998 along with Co-Director Rich Mazzola, tried from the beginning to involve as many community organizations as possible. There are many opportunities for volunteers. This includes friends and relatives of participants, as well as some runners on the mend. Volunteers in many of the villages and towns will provide support as runners visit their communities. From one community to the next, this has been a successful and beneficial event, which becomes better every year. Check the Web Site for volunteer opportunities.
RTB Has it All
Even before the race begins there will be enjoyable moments. A pre-race dinner will be provided on Thursday evening from 5 to 9 p.m., and then a pre-race breakfast on the big day from 6:30 to 10:30 a.m. Both will be held at the beautiful Breton Woods Base Lodge.
The fastest team overall will win a free entry into the 2006 edition of the race. The first team in each of the 18 divisions will win a fuel belt for each teammate from Fuel Belt, Inc. All participants will receive a coveted RTB medal. Most importantly, every team and every participant will gain the greatest reward, and enjoyable, memorable experience. Finishing teams will enjoy a camaraderie born of adventure. It will be an unforgettable moment as they finish the seventh annual Reach the Beach Relay, the longest continuous major relay in North America.
With Eastern Mountain Sports as the primary sponsor, it is ideal for competitive running clubs, and for small and large companies with eyes to the future. For teams and individuals, the Reach the Beach Relay can be more than the highlight of your season--200 miles and the unforgettable experience-of-a-lifetime in 24 hours.