Fast Times at Apple Country
What is fast? Superman is fast; faster than a speeding bullet. The space shuttle is fast; exceeding speeds of 3000 miles per hour. And the Hollis Apple Country Fast 5K is fast. How fast? Perhaps the fastest in all New England.
Posted Monday, 26 March, 2007
According to race director George LeCours, "last year's Apple Country Fast 5K yielded nine unofficial
New Hampshire resident's state age records." George is careful to point
out that the records are unofficial because with a net elevation loss of 242 feet USATF
does not recognize this point-to-point course for official records. Nevertheless
that doesn't seem to deter folks from wanting to run a fast time. Just ask the
800 or so runners that have run fast times on the course during the last two
Ask Jim Rhoades How Fast
Most people know Jim Rhoades as a guy who is fast behind a camera. Just take a look at his website (www.jimrhoades.com) and view the tens-of-thousands of photographs he snaps yearly of New England runners. However Jim Rhoades, a resident of Lowell, is not only a fast photographer, but he is also a fast runner! He owns a flat land 5K personal best of 16:19 - not too shabby. At last year's Hollis Apple County Fast 5K he was able to lower that to an impressive 15:42.
"The race has been good to me," says Rhoades. "I've run my two fastest
times there [16:08 and 15:52]." He also points out that, "the first year
the race was held in not the best conditions [mid-eighties] but people still
ran well." So well in fact that over 10-percent of the field broke six minute
pace. That number was increased to 12.5-percent at the 2006 race.
Go too fast and you'll miss the scenery
Although this very scenic jaunt through the quiet village of Hollis NH has produced
some of the fastest times in all of New Hampshire there are many more reasons
to run the race besides setting a personal record. Most runners are familiar
with Hollis in the autumn because of the popular Applefest Half-Marathon with
its spectacular fall foliage. The Fast 5K offers a terrific opportunity to view
the apple orchards and pristine landscape of Hollis during a delightful summer
From Route 3 North or South, take Exit 5W (Rte 111 West). Go four miles
on Rte 111 West. Take a left onto Route 111A at the traffic light. Drive
200 yards to the entrance of Alpine Grove on your right.
Parking and shuttle,
Runners will park at the Alpine Grove banquet facility and shuttle
via bus to the starting line. Buses will begin transporting runners to
the start at 5:15 pm. The last bus willl leave at 6:05 pm. Please allow
yourself enough time if you are using the shuttle.
The event starts in the center of town on a downhill - of course. With its white
steeple church, clapboard covered buildings and brick school house this beautiful
setting would fit nicely on a Currier and Ives calendar. Upon leaving this rustic
setting the scenery opens to beautiful orchards and flowery meadows that are
lined with colonial stonewalls.
The first half mile is a very gradual downhill, but once out of the town center the grade becomes more pronounced while the scenery remains just as beautiful. What makes this course so quick is that the elevation drop is spread out across the entire 3.1-mile stretch. Nothing really steep, just gentle sloping downgrades. Your momentum will carry you from the start to the finish.
Make sure you notice the scenery on the bus ride to the start because you'll be going too fast to enjoy it on the return trip. Better yet, arrive early and include a jog to the start as your warm-up.
Good Organization, Great Prizes and a Fun Party
George LeCours and his group from the Hollis/Brookline Rotary club do a terrific
job with race organization. From the free and no hassle parking to the bus ride
to the start no detail is overlooked. The entire course is coned off providing
a safe route for the runners with each mile and half mile accurately marked. State-of-the-art
RFID chip timing provided by Yankee Timing Company will ensure accurate and quick
results in this year's race. This will expedite the awards ceremony.
"Our goal for this race is to provide a great running venue and combine
it with an element of entertainment." says George. "We welcome serious
runners seeking to run their fastest 5K. At the same time, encourage joggers
who want to complete their first race."
After the race all runners are invited to a post race extravaganza at the
Alpine Grove banquet facility. The festivities will feature refreshments, music
and plenty of awards. Winners will be awarded "The Apple." These unique awards
designed and crafted by the Rotary Club will certainly take up a prominent spot
in every winner's trophy case. Awards go to "competitors 19 years old and
under compete in two-year age brackets three deep for each gender," George
points out. And there are plenty of them. Apples will be award to 18 age divisions
(three deep) for the run, 7 age divisions (3 deep) for the walk and in 12 different
Don't take our word for it
Ask anyone who has ever run the course and you'll get an immediate testimonial on the fast times it produces. Last year Casey Moulton of Pelham, NH beat the overall official state record by twelve seconds. Cassie Hintz, the overall female winner, beat the age eighteen official state record by 1 minute 59 seconds! Now that's fast!
Finally the race is held on a Thursday evening providing a great week night
escape. Traffic is usually light on Rte 3 so your trip to Hollis will be a fast
one. There is also no race day registration so make sure to enter ahead of time.
If you are interested in running "ONLY ONE HILL!" that just happens
to be downhill and you want to run a very FAST time then signup today for the Apple Country Fast 5K!