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home > races/results > usa: new hampshire > fred brown lake winnipesaukee relay: one day, 65.1 miles, 8 legs, extraordinary organization, and unparalleled natural beauty

Fred Brown Lake Winnipesaukee Relay: One Day, 65.1 Miles, 8 Legs, Extraordinary Organization, and Unparalleled Natural Beauty
The Fred Brown Lake Winnipesaukee Relay will run along the beautiful shore of Lake Winnipesaukee, circumnavigating the “Beautiful Water in a High Place”. Bring friends and teammates. This relay has 17 years of tradition. Fred Brown would be very proud of the Classic his race has become.

Fred Brown Lake Winnipesaukee Relay: One Day, 65.1 Miles, 8 Legs, Extraordinary Organization, and Unparalleled Natural Beauty

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By Skip Cleaver
Posted Monday, 12 September, 2005

The Fred Brown Lake Winnipesaukee Relay provides the opportunity for all teams--highly competitive runners, and teams out to simply have fun together—to enjoy one of the best days they will ever experience as a running team. The venerable North Medford Club will present the 17th annual edition on Saturday, September 24th, a 65.1-mile counter clockwise loop around New Hampshire’s largest lake. This year runners will compete in 20 different divisions with an innovative twist—teams can be made up of five to eight members.

Many runners return year after year for this most enjoyable day for racing. It will be a day of camaraderie and bonding, of support and just plain fun. The Fred Brown/Lake Winnipesaukee Relay, already one of the best team road-running events in New England, will add a new dimension for the 2005 edition on September 24th. Only five team members are needed (or six, seven, or a complete eight) to run eight legs totaling 65.1 miles. It is one day and done at Winnipesaukee, although many teams choose to spend Friday night in the region, fresh for the 8:00 a.m. start.

Many teams also plan a cookout following the event—another chance for camaraderie and enjoyment. The awards ceremony and post-race party will be held at JT’s Smokehouse Restaurant in Weirs Beach. Many stay over Saturday night, and make a great weekend of it—the first weekend of autumn. Participants will get a close up view of the famous Granite State foliage others travel thousands of miles to see.

This event is generating some serous excitement this year. Runners from all divisions will be spread over many miles following the start 8:00 a.m. start at Funspot in Weirs Beach.

There will be a hint of fall and the annual explosion of autumn hues; and hundreds of colorful athletes will speed away from Funspot. Water stations and relay points will be filled with support crews and volunteers all along the perimeter of the beautiful, famous lake. Team members will support their runners along the way, and offer assistance and encouragement to others. Weather is usually ideal for running with crisp autumn air in New Hampshire. This event builds—and defines—camaraderie in running.

The Teams—20 Divisions Provide Opportunity for All Runners
In addition to the top women’s, men’s, and mixed teams overall, teams will chase 20 age group and divisional titles in the circumnavigation of the Lake—Women’s, Men’s, and Co-Ed Divisions, including Under 20, Open, Masters, Seniors, Veterans, and Corporate. Additionally, there are Law Enforcement and Firefighters divisions. The Lake Winnipesaukee Relay is one of the top single-day team relay races in the country.

Legs vary from 4.0 miles to 11.0 miles. Six of the eight have challenging, rolling hills, designed for several ability levels on the same team.

All teams are encouraged to join in this adventure—Running clubs, schools, neighbors, social organizations, and corporate groups. Law Enforcement teams and Firefighters will challenge each other in their own divisions. New teams are welcome in all brackets. This event will provide you and your friends or co-workers with a memorable experience—a challenge and a good time in a beautiful location. Corporate, as with all other teams, can be all men, all women, or mixed. This provides a terrific opportunity for company and organizational morale and team building.

New England clubs will challenge the best from other regions. Some organizations will send teams to compete with each other in a friendly challenge. Schools and social organizations will participate for the unique experience.

Divisional teams will be categorized according to the youngest member, except that all members of the Under 20 teams must be exactly that. For example, if a team is all masters but has one runner under 40, it would be listed as an open team. There will be no age designations for Corporate Teams, and there will be no age or gender designations for Law Enforcement or Firefighters’ teams.

Mixed teams of five must have at least two women. If there are six or seven members on a mixed team, there must be at least three women; and for a full complement of eight on a mixed team, there must be a four-four split.

Corporate Team Opportunities-- Your Company
The corporate divisions are in great demand because of their tremendous value, not only as an athletic adventure, but also as a company resource. Employees can show corporate logos and banners, and use the event to develop and target employee fitness and wellness programs. Participation can vastly improve employee morale. Corporate competition will be an increasingly important part of the overall event. But mostly, they can simply have a ball running a terrific team relay, one of the best.

Planning and organizing for an eight-person team to run 65.1 miles at the best possible pace is a great company team builder. Meeting this challenge is about as much fun as you can have in team running. Companies can compete with others, or contest their own company bragging rights.

The Course--Eight Legs
The loop around Lake Winnipesaukee passes through many towns. The eight largest are Weirs Beach, Laconia, Guilford, Alton, Wolfeboro, Moultonboro, Meredith, and Center Harbor. Legs have a range of difficulty and a variety of terrain—two are relatively easy, and some tough. The fourth, which is four mostly flat miles, could be classified as easy, along with the sixth leg, a 6.4-mile trek. The others are hilly, but terrifically scenic and enjoyable.

The first leg is 10.7 miles, running from Funspot and along the Weirs Beach waterfront. There are a few challenging hills, but also some beautiful lakeside views. The last mile is mostly uphill, ending at the first handoff at the Arlberg Ski Shop near the entrance to Gunstock Ski Area.

The second leg is an 11 miler running from the ski shop to Alton Bay. There is considerable downhill and also rolling to flat terrain in this leg, the longest. Much of it runs along Alton Bay, the southeastern arm of the lake. There are views of the surrounding mountain ranges, the Belknap Mountains on the south side and the Ossipee Mountains on the northeast. Alton is one of the stops for the M/V Mount Washington, as well as homeport for hundreds of smaller craft.

The third leg begins at Alton Bay bandstand and heads north into Wolfeboro and the handoff point at Kingswood Regional High School. After only 2/10 mile, Bay Hill Road—a chin scraper—is a significant start of the 9.3-mile challenge. There is very little flat terrain on this leg, although there are no more really steep hills after Bay Hill. The final mile into historic Wolfeboro is both scenic and challenging.

Leg four is an easy, scenic, mostly flat four miles from the high school to the Abenaki Ski Area. Just over one mile into this leg comes the halfway point for the entire race.

Leg five is the second longest at 10.8 miles, beginning at Abenaki Ski Area and running to Morgan Farm in Moultonboro. This is one of the most scenic legs, and is largely wooded and very rural.

Leg six is a rolling 6.4 from the farm to Moultonboro High School. There are great views of the surrounding mountains during this relatively easy leg.

The penultimate section is an 8.5-mile, rolling challenge from Moultonboro High School to Interlakes High School in Center Harbor along Route 25. And the final leg is 4.4 miles, but almost all of it is on hills, both up and down. It goes from Interlakes High School through the town of Meredith and along the harbor. It then negotiates a series of hills back to Weirs Beach and the challenging uphill finish at Funspot to the cheers of teammates and spectators. What a beautiful course!

Relay Traditions—32 Years
This event has tradition. It is the 17th year at Lake Winnipesaukee. However, it was preceded by the famous Plymouth to Provincetown Relay, which ran for 15 years (1974-1988) on Cape Cod. Crowding and construction on the Cape, and local government red tape, required Fred Brown to move the relay to Lake Winnipesaukee beginning in 1989. The first two years, the Lake Winnipesaukee Relay started and finished at the Gunstock Ski Area (near the current first handoff point).

There have been some route and handoff changes, but both have been essentially the same for the past 10 years. Each leg is timed and posted, along with the overall team finish time. All teams will attempt to capture coveted Winnipesaukee Loon Awards, once wooden carvings and now handsome glasses with the famous Winnipesaukee logo.

The Coastal Athletic Association men’s open team (6:14:48) sped to the overall victory in 2004 for the fourth consecutive year. And the Bowdoin College Alumni captured the women’s open division (7:55:30), their first. After years of domination by the powerful Central Mass Striders, the Coastal Athletic Association from the Portsmouth, New Hampshire area has won the men’s title every year since 2001. Women from the same area, a loosely aligned group known as the Ghosts of Pease, won the women’s overall title from 2000 through 2003. Whether the first team to finish or the last (in about 11:00 hours), all will receive enthusiastic support along the course and at the finish line.

Fred Brown—the Johnny Appleseed of Running
Who was Fred Brown? He was the driving force behind road racing and race walking in New England for years. He founded and directed more races than any other person in the history of the sport. He was the “Johnny Appleseed of Running”, and also called the “Missionary of Racing”. He could, and did, direct races out of the trunk of his car. He founded many events that have lasted to this day.

Fred Brown founded the North Medford Club in 1933, the second oldest running club in New England after the BAA. Fred was a contemporary of Johnny Kelly as a runner and Jock Semple of the BAA as a race organizer. Fred was a competitive racer and marathoner for five decades, the 1930’s through the 1970’s, and then he became a competitive race walker, also organizing walking events, including a national championship.

He was one of the rare individuals who not only participated in events—he created them. He was dominant in New England, creating races in every season. He founded what is now the Great Stew Chase in Lynn, Massachusetts, making stew himself and buying up day-old pastries so runners would have food at the end, according to the present Race Director, Roger Perham. He created winter races, handicap races, charity races, and fun races.

Brown and his wife Grace had another hobby—taking in and caring for stray cats.

The Winnipesaukee Relay is named for and held in memory of its founder, a racing pioneer. Fred Brown is a true legend and a founding father of the sport.

On the Sunday after the Winnipesaukee Relay, members of the North Medford Club celebrate Fred Brown and his accomplishments by running a 7.6-mile fun run/race from Plymouth, New Hampshire, just northwest of Lake Winnipesaukee, to his grave in Rumney, New Hampshire. The event has a noon start, and is followed by a potluck lunch. Others are invited to participate.

The Unique Lake Winnipesaukee
Winnipesaukee, as with many rivers and lakes in New England, is rooted in Native American languages, and means “Beautiful Water in a High Place”, or “Beautiful Deep Water in a High Place.” And indeed it is. Lake Winnipegosis and Lake Winnipeg in Manitoba appear to have the same origin. Weirs Beach also has native roots. Weirs were “baskets” or obstructions—sticks, poles, and lashes--placed at the outlet of the lake to trap migrating fish.

Winnipesaukee is famous for its wooded shoreline and hundreds of islands. It is the largest Lake in New Hampshire, and one of the largest entirely within New England. It is one of 270 lakes and ponds in the famous Lakes Region of the Granite State. It is 504 feet above sea level, covers 72 square miles (44,586 acres), and has 182 miles of shoreline (although it is only a 65-mile run around it). The lake has 244 islands (53 of them over four acres), and is mostly spring fed.

Water from Winnipesaukee flows through Paugus Bay and Lakeport into the Winnipesaukee River, which joins with the Pemigewasset to form the Merrimack. Raising the lake’s level one inch equals over one billion gallons of water.

The lake has a rich history dating back to the last Ice Age. The area was inhabited by natives for at least 8,000 years, and largely unchanged during that time. In 1652 Governor Endicott of Massachusetts Bay Colony sent an expedition to the area via the Merrimack and Winnipesaukee Rivers, and they found Weirs Beach. They carved their initials on “Endicott Rock” (now protected by the Endicott Rock Monument), and claimed the area as the northern boundary of the colony. It was 84 years, however, before a major attempt was made by colonists to settle the area. They built a fort in 1736.

In the late 1700’s Royal Governor Wentworth of New Hampshire built a summer residence just outside Wolfeboro, along the shore of (now) Lake Wentworth. The town of Wolfeboro began as a village to support the governor’s mansion, farm, orchards, stables, and grounds. The foundations of the mansion (which burned in the early 1800’s after Wentworth returned to England) are still visible. Thus Wolfeboro, named for British General Wolfe of Montreal fame, claims to be “Americas First Resort”.

In 1879 the New Hampshire Veterans of the Civil War, the Grand Army of the Republic, built a series of Victorian structures as summer vacation group homes. Several are still standing along the course in Weirs Beach.

Do Not Miss This Relay in 2005
The Fred Brown Winnipesaukee Relay will be the epitome of camaraderie and teamwork; shared aspirations will drive teams toward their goal. And they will have a lot of fun doing it. It will be a competitive highlight for many clubs and organizations, and the ideal team-building exercise for many companies.

There is a long list of terrific reasons to run this one, whether your team is aiming for a championship, or running for fun--nothing quite like it. Additional information is available at the North Medford Club’s Website, You can e-mail, or call (603) 235-5452 or (978) 534-4891.

The race is named for a true pioneer. The North Medford Club will make a donation to the Humane Society in his honor. Fred would like that, and would be very low key about the whole enterprise. But he would also be quietly proud that this event has become such a Classic.



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