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home > races/results > usa: new hampshire > the fred brown lake winnipesaukee relay is a one day adventure—classic teamwork along eight extraordinarily scenic legs

The Fred Brown Lake Winnipesaukee Relay is a One Day Adventure—Classic Teamwork Along Eight Extraordinarily Scenic Legs
One Fantastic Day! Teammates and friends look forward to the 65.1-mile Fred Brown Lake Winnipesaukee Relay—brought to you exclusively by the North Medford Club.

The Fred Brown Lake Winnipesaukee Relay is a One Day Adventure—Classic Teamwork Along Eight Extraordinarily Scenic Legs

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By Skip Cleaver
Posted Thursday, 24 August, 2006

The Fred Brown Lake Winnipesaukee Relay is one of the best team relay events in the country; certainly tops among single day events. And what a beautiful location it is—Northern New Hampshire’s lake country. It’s an eight-leg relay circumnavigation one of New England’s largest lakes. This will be the 18th exciting run along the beautiful shore of Lake Winnipesaukee. This terrific “must do” event will be Saturday, September 23rd, beginning at 8:00 a.m. It begins and ends at Funspot, Route 3, Weirs Beach, New Hampshire.

Excellent organization and flawless planning will provide you and your team with one terrific racing adventure. It will be the second day of autumn. It will be another classic event. Is your team ready for the challenge?

This year the awards ceremony will be at Funspot near the finish line, beginning at 6:00 p.m. And there will be post race refreshments served for all participants. Additionally, many clubs and organizations look forward to their annual cookouts and parties—a great tradition.

There are no corporate sponsors for this venerable contest. The North Medford Club exclusively provides this great relay, without sponsorship, in their best traditions. The T-shirts and awards tell us volumes about their organization: There are no corporate names and products; only the race logo (the famous Loon), the year, and the club name in a tasteful design.

A visit to their Website will tell you just how many events the NMC provides for the running community—races all year long throughout southern and central New Hampshire and Eastern Massachusetts. The NMC has contributed tremendously to the sport over many years. It is worthy of the legacy of Fred Brown. If there were a hall of fame for running clubs, they would be among the first inductees.

Flexible, Competitive, Fun
Whether your relay team has 5, 6, 7, or 8 members, this event is the epitome of camaraderie and teamwork, and just plain old-fashioned fun. It is a competitive highlight for many clubs and organizations, and an ideal team outing or weekend away.

It is an enjoyable athletic and logistical challenge, a challenge welcomed by all runners. There’s always one team member running, and others in support all along the 65.1-mile course. Teammates get to cheer and support their runner, and also experience one of the great resort destinations of the Northeast. It is one day and done—but what a day, what a memorable time with friends.

There is a long list of terrific reasons to run this one--scenic course, team flexibility, terrific organization, and wonderful teamwork among them. Whether your team is aiming for a championship, or running simply for fun and finish—there is nothing quite like this experience.

Who’s Running? 18 Divisions--Opportunity for All Runners
Teams can be five to eight runners in any combination. There are three rules changes this year that may make things easier: Runners may run two consecutive legs—that is, if a teammate is not there for the handoff, the runner can keep going, or hand to a substitute runner. And an injured runner can be replaced during her or his leg if necessary, without disqualification.

In addition to the top overall women’s, men’s, and mixed winners, teams will compete for 18 age group and divisional titles, including Under 20, Open, Masters, Seniors, Veterans, and Corporate.

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 groups are encouraged to join this adventure—Running clubs, schools, neighbors, families, social organizations, and corporate entities. New teams are welcome in all brackets. Teams can be all men, all women, or mixed. It’s a terrific opportunity for clubs and companies to show their colors in competition. This race is a team building exercise for companies and organizations.

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 are no age designations for Corporate 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 mixed, there must be a four-four split.

Register On-line or By Mail
The link will take you to for on-line registration. There is also a printable application on the Website if you wish to register by mail. But don’t wait. As we write this, there are only 97 days and a few hours (there is a countdown on the North Medford Website) until relay day.

Early registration also allows the NMC to mail race packets in advance, a big advantage for team captains.

Baton (with a course map inside), T-shirts, and race packets will be available at JT’s Bar-B-Q (across from Funspot and the start/finish lines) from 4:00 to 9:00 p.m. on Friday evening, September 22, and again on race day morning at Funspot beginning at 6:30 a.m. Late registration is also available at these times, if necessary.

Terrific Course--Eight Legs
What a great course—as beautiful as it is challenging. There are farms, villages, historic structures, marinas, hotels, shops, general stores, a railroad, the M/V Mount Washington, beautiful views of the great lake, and so much more along this phenomenal course. There will be a hint of fall and the annual explosion of autumn colors.

Race day at 8:00 a.m. hundreds of athletes will speed away from Funspot and along the lakeshore, adding color and excitement to the race day scene.

The course will be well marked. Look for the bright orange markers, and black arrows—the colors of the North Medford Club. Water stations and relay points will be staffed with support crews and volunteers all along the perimeter of the beautiful, famous lake. Every leg is timed for all runners, and all times will be posted on Cool Running.

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. 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, with the 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. 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 inclines after Bay Hill. The final mile into historic Wolfeboro is scenic, and challenging, with the handoff point at Kingswood Regional High School.

Leg four is an easy, relaxing, 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, largely wooded and very rural.

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

An 8.5-mile, rolling challenge is the penultimate section from Moultonboro High School to Interlakes High School in Center Harbor on Route 25. And the final leg is 4.4 miles, but almost all of it is on very visible hills, both up and down. It runs from Interlakes High School through Meredith and along the harbor. There is a challenging uphill finish at Funspot to the cheers of teammates and spectators.

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. What a beautiful course!

Mr. Running and Racing, Fred Brown
The legendary Fred Brown was a founding father of the sport. The Fred Brown Winnipesaukee Relay is named for, and held in memory of, this true racing pioneer and innovative legend.

Fred Brown 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 history. He was the “Johnny Appleseed of Running”, also called the “Missionary of Racing”. He could, and did, direct races out of the trunk of his car. He founded many events decades ago that are still running today.

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 and Jock Semple of the BAA. He was a competitive racer and marathoner for five decades, the 1930’s through the 1970’s, and then he became a competitive race walker. Late in life he organized walking events, including a national championship.

He was a great athlete, and passionate about his sport. And he was creative. He invented winter races, handicap races, charity races, and fun races, a pioneer in types of events now taken for granted. He was dominant in New England, creating races in many towns and in every season.

Fred Brown was never out for recognition. Whether it was a small local race or big events such as a national championship or Lake Winnipesaukee, he was very low key about the whole enterprise. He would be quietly proud that this event has become such a Classic. And even more proud that his club does such a fantastic job, and that they do it independently—just like Fred.

The North Medford Club makes a donation each year to the Humane Society in his honor. Fred would like that (he and his wife Grace had another hobby—taking in and caring for stray cats).

Relay Traditions—33 Years
This event has tradition, with 18 years at 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 required Fred Brown to move the relay to Lake Winnipesaukee beginning in 1989. The first three years, the Lake Winnipesaukee Relay started and finished at the Gunstock Ski Area (near the current first handoff point).

The course has been essentially the same for the past 11 years. Each leg is timed, with complete results posted (by Granite State Race Services), along with the overall team finish time and place. All teams will compete for the coveted Winnipesaukee Loon Awards, once wooden carvings and now handsome glasses with the famous Winnipesaukee Relay logo.

HFC (Hurtin’ for Certain) Running Club was dominant in last year’s event, capturing the men’s open (6:12:01) and masters’ titles, as well as the women’s open title (7:44:41). The Rochester Runners finished second in the men’s race, and the Cambridge Sports Union took second in the women’s race. The Winners circle Running Club and the Gate City striders went one-two in the women’s masters.

The Central Mass Striders dominated the event in the 1990s, but 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 in 2004 (7:55:30), their first. Women from the Portsmouth, NH-York, Maine area, a loosely aligned group known as the Ghosts of Pease, won the women’s overall title from 2000 through 2003.

Unique Lake Winnipesaukee
The name Winnipesaukee, as with many rivers and lakes in New England, is rooted in Native American language. 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. The lake has 244 islands (53 of them over four acres), and is mostly spring fed.

Water from Winnipesaukee flows into the Winnipesaukee River, which joins with the Pemigewasset to form the mighty Merrimack River, all native names. Natives inhabited the area for at least 8,000 years.

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 at Weirs Beach—visible along the course), and claimed the area as the northern boundary of the colony. They built a fort in 1736 to enforce the claim.

Royal Governor Wentworth of New Hampshire built a summer residence in the late 1700’s 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 (burned in the early 1800’s after Wentworth returned to England) are still visible. Thus Wolfeboro, named for British General Wolfe, claims to be “Americas First Resort”.

Sign Up for a Great Outing
The Lake Winnipesaukee Relay is one of the top single-day team relay races in the country.
This event is generating serous excitement this year, and will be competitive, challenging, and enjoyable. Be sure your team is a part of the 18th running.

Weather is usually ideal with crisp autumn air in New Hampshire in late September.

This event builds—and defines—camaraderie in running. It will be a memorable experience—a challenge and a really good time in a beautiful location.

Join the celebration at the finish line, and refresh, refill, relax. Retell the memorable stories of your traditions at the Fred Brown Lake Winnipesaukee Relay.

The Winnipesaukee Relay provides the opportunity for all teams--highly competitive and those out to simply have fun —to enjoy one of the best days they will ever experience as a team. The venerable North Medford Club will present this classic on Saturday, September 23rd. You can visit the NMC Website, e-mail, or call (978) 537-7294 for additional information.

Note: All photographs, except the last two, were taken by Ted Tyler and used courtesy of the Jim Rhoades Collection.



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