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home > races/results > usa: new hampshire > applefest - it is simply one of the best races anywhere

Applefest - It is simply one of the best races anywhere
The Applefest Half Marathon and Half Marathon Relay on October first has it all--history, tradition, wonderful awards, plentiful food, and terrific organization; it runs along farms, orchards, and through an historic village. It will be a beautiful autumn foliage tour of rural New England, USA

Applefest - It is simply one of the best races anywhere

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By Skip Cleaver
Posted Monday, 22 August, 2005

On the first day of October the Applefest Half Marathon will be run in beautiful, scenic Hollis, New Hampshire; it will be the 23rd year for this classic, and the third running of the Applefest Half Marathon Relay. This year’s edition of this terrific happening will run Saturday, October 1, beginning at 10:00 a.m. It is simply one of the best races anywhere, with remarkable attention to detail and to the needs of each runner.

Peak New England foliage and 1,500 participants will provide color and beautiful scenery along the rural roads that border forests, orchards, fields, farms, and historic houses. The famous orchards of Southern New Hampshire and the region’s apple harvest festival tradition will be evident in this classic celebration of distance running.

This year’s Applefest Half Marathon, famous for unique features and attention to individual runners, will begin and end at the Hollis Brookline High School in Hollis, New Hampshire. Hollis borders Massachusetts, and is easy to get to from Boston (one hour) or the Manchester Airport (25 minutes) via Route 3 and the Everett Turnpike through Nashua, a city just east of Hollis. Hollis seems much more remote, a serene, quaint setting, but is only six miles west of the major highway via State Route 130 to Route 122. The high school is ½ mile south (left) of the intersection of Routes 130 and 122. This excellent facility will also be the site of the pre and post race activities—now famous for excellent food and quality awards.

Everything about this event is first class, and the committee pays amazing attention to detail. The pride of the Gate City Striders and the Race Committee is very evident with all aspects of this race, year in and year out. Some races peak, and then decline. This one improves year on year, and respects input from runners. Every member of the race committee is a dedicated runner. The race was founded by runners, and has had tremendously effective and hard-working direction over the years. Race Co-Directors Emily Strong and Chet Rogers are marathon runners. They lead a talented, effective, dedicated committee that puts runners first. “By Runners, for Runners,” is much more than a slogan.

Applefest is an experience, and includes beautiful fall foliage, a scenic rural course, computer chip timing, excellent facilities, unique long sleeved T-shirts, commemorative awards for all participants, enthusiastic volunteers, energetic and inspiring student-manned water stops, many high quality awards, and unmatched post race food. Every detail will be covered. The scent of ripening apples, and baked apple pies and apple crisp, will underscore the event name. The course is a USATF-certified, scenic, rolling gem. This event will be run in the welcoming village of Hollis with attention to runners’ every need--a very memorable race experience, one of the best anywhere.

How good is this event? It has very loyal following year after year. This, combined with growing demand from New England and around the country, make this a coveted bib number. Runners came from 21 states and Canada in 2004. The Applefest Committee was able to increase the limit on the field from 1,000 to 1,200 for the 20th annual in 2002. And the demand also increased in recent years for a shorter race to accompany the 13.1-mile half marathon. Organizers responded by offering a two-person relay in 2003. Both the half marathon and the relay (limit 150 teams) will definitely sell out well in advance of the event.

The Relay
This will be the third year for the Half Marathon Relay, an event on the same course and at the same time as the traditional half marathon. The relay will be run in two segments: the first is 6.4 miles, and the last 6.7 miles.

Buses will take all second-leg runners to the relay point, and will return all first-leg runners from the hand-off in time to cheer their partners at the finish. The relay runners will compete in three categories (women, men, and mixed) and three separate divisions—open, masters, and seniors.

Exciting Year in 2004
Julie Spolidoro and Edward Baker, both from Boston and the BAA, were the winners of last year’s Applefest. And both were double winners in setting age group records. Spolidoro set the age 23 mark at 1:20:34, and Baker the men’s age 25 record at 1:10:08. The remarkable tracking of these records shows that his was set by a mere one second, while hers eclipsed the old mark by 6:44. Two-time winner Eric Beauchesne established the new mark for age 34 (1:10:34, by 50 seconds) in his second consecutive runner-up finish. These three were the first records age 19 to 39 since 1999.

Debra Barry of nearby Ashby, Massachusetts, finished second at 1:27:01. Barry, in her fourth runner-up finish at Applefest, exceeded national age group standards for age 39, beating her mark from five years earlier, an age 34 record of 1:27:19. Jaqueline Shakar of Worcester, Massachusetts, set the record for age 45 in finishing third overall (1:28:35). Nine age group records were set in all.

Cash Awards
An $800 bonus will be awarded for a race record (1:06:07, Dave Dunham, 1992; 1:18:22, Patti Laliberte, 1983). Dunham’s record has stood for 13 years, and Laliberte set the women’s mark in the very first Applefest 23 years ago. The top three women and men will be awarded $300, $200, and $100 respectively. Relay winners in all three categories, female, male, and mixed, will be awarded a $100 prize.

Pre Registration Only
Registration is on-line only, and all runners—half marathon and relay—must pre-register. And runners will save by entering early. Participants have a choice with entry—shirt or no shirt. However, this long sleeve T-shirt is uniquely and very attractively designed, and is always a collectable. Many runners look forward to adding to their collection of unique shirts and commemorative finishers’ awards each year.

The most important thing to remember about registration is that there is a limited field, and it will fill—both the relay and the half. Please get this application in early, because demand for these positions increases every year. Registration is already on a record-setting pace. The limits are necessary in order to maintain the high quality experience for every participant, and also because of the exceptional safety measures and the physical characteristics of the village.

Please note there will be no race-day registration for either half marathon runners or relay runners. Number, chip, and T-shirt pick up will be available Friday, September 30, from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m., or from 8:00 to 9:30 a.m. on race morning—both at the Hollis-Brookline High School.

Age Records
Beginning with the first Applefest race in 1983, unique records have been kept for every age, not just age groups—a signature feature of Applefest. They now extend from age 10 to 82, and anyone who breaks these records will win a sweatshirt with embroidered Applefest logo, along with their name and age group. This handsome embroidered sweatshirt is unique to this race.

There were nine such awards in each 2001 and 2002. There were five in 2003, and then nine again last year. Included in the nine records for 2004 were the youngest runner in Applefest history, and the oldest. Andy Raitto of Hollis, age 11, set his second consecutive mark after being the first 10-year-old to run it. And Carlton Mendel of Maine sped to his 12th single age group record, clocking 2:47:04 at age 82. Dave Parsel of California posted his sixth consecutive age record, a 1:15:50 at age 49. This was only 6 seconds off his age 48 record and he actually beat his age 45 and 46 records. He won the men’s race outright in posting his first two. Wendy Burbank of Boxford, Massachusetts galloped to her third straight age group record, 1:46:14 at age 62. These three athletes are the only ones with current record streaks of more than one.

Also last year, the record for age women age 71 (1:56:50) was set by Barbara Robinson of Laconia, New Hampshire. This makes Robinson the oldest woman to run the event (and thus far the only woman over age 65 to do so), and she will be back to add to her record this year for age 72.

Two other women have made a significant impact on the record book. Carrie Parsi set her 11th age group record (between ages 49 and 65) as she sped to 1:49:51 for age 65. She would have likely had two more, but for a two year stint in the Peace Corps in Africa. She is planning on coming back for age 66. Sue LaChance of Lunenburg, Massachusetts has set five records between age 35 and 41, and she won outright in all five. She will be back this year to take a run at age 45.

Joe Fernandez of New Bedford, Massachusetts set a national veteran’s record in 1989 (1:20:54, Applefest age 61 record). Nine records set in the very first race (1983), including Laliberte’s women’s overall mark, have not been broken in 22 years. These records provide everyone a measure for their efforts, no matter what their age.

Applefest awards always reflect the high quality standards of the race overall. Very handsome medals and “Mile High” apple pies will be greatly appreciated by all the division winners.

Applefest will present awards to at least 128 runners this year, plus additional prizes for single age records. That is a very impressive number, and a very high percentage of overall participants. In addition to the cash prizes for first, second, and third, awards will be provided three deep in 12 divisions (5-year age groups) for women and men, plus prizes for the top three female and male weight (Clydesdale) divisions, and for the top three women and men from Hollis-Brookline.

In addition to the top three relay teams overall in three divisions--female, male, and mixed, relay prizes will be awarded three deep in three categories—open, masters, and seniors—in female, male, and mixed groups.

Memorable Applefest
A few comments from participants in last year’s race:

“How about that bag pipe player in the middle of the tree-lined section about mile six or seven? No crowds, no cars, no commotion, just the woods, a few slight rollers, and a lone bag pipe player on the hill.”

“Great job! I ran a 2:30 PR from last year. The weather couldn’t be better, and the apple crisp at the end…I’d run those hills for that anytime!”

“It was a tremendously well-run race; the buses, the food, the staff, the water stations, the coordination…. everything was excellent. I will absolutely be back in 2005.”

“Applefest has the best post-race food I’ve ever seen, and I’ve been racing for 30 years.”

Yes, the Food
The post-race food fest begins with the famous apple crisp provided by 23-year sponsor New England Country Pies. Along with the apple crisp, the committee presents the widest variety of plentiful baked goods along with large quantities of fruit, yogurt, and beverages. This is one of the hardest working post race food committees anywhere. They are dedicated, and runners reap the benefits--one reason, among many, that brings runners back year after year.

A Fall Distance Festival for All—Don’t Miss It
Why run Applefest, the half marathon or the relay? Runners will enjoy great food, a beautiful course, commemorative prizes for all participants, friendly and enthusiastic volunteers, cash prizes, accurate and quick Championchip timing, excellent medals, custom long-sleeve T’s, 5-year age groups, weight divisions, single year age group records, strictly limited field, strict traffic control, fruit baskets, embroidered sweat shirts (age records), first-class facilities with lockers and showers, a runner-friendly town, and top notch organization.

When you run it, it will be very likely you will return year after year.



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