The 15th Annual Nashua Soup Kitchen & Shelter 5K Doubles the Fun with a New 10K Course
The new 10K will run in downtown Nashua and be part of the New Hampshire Grand Prix, and both races are State Championships--terrific races for a vital cause.
Posted Monday, 7 January, 2008
Are you looking to rev up your 2008 spring racing season with a great 5K that sports a downhill finish? How about kicking off the RRCA New Hampshire Grand Prix series with a 10K of the same caliber? If so, then the Nashua Soup Kitchen & Shelter (NSK&S) Run for Food and Shelter 5K – and inaugural 10K – is the place to set your sights.
Located in downtown Nashua, New Hampshire, just one hour north of Boston and one hour from the Seacoast, the Run for Food and Shelter 5K has become a mainstay in the region over the last 15 years. The race was first established in conjunction with the YWCA as a woman's-only race, and was run at the end of the summer. But in 1994, the NSK&S began its own tradition, opening the 5K race up to female and male runners and walkers of all abilities and moving it to mid-April – carefully scheduling it between holidays, other local events, and the Boston Marathon weekend.
This year, race organizers have upped the ante and added to this well-organized event. Sunday, April 13, 2008, marks the running of the 15th Annual 5K race and the inaugural 10K race – the first event of the season in the competitive Road Runners Club of America (RRCA) New Hampshire Grand Prix. Both events are certified RRCA New Hampshire State Championship races and will be Champion Chip timed. Nashua's easy-to-reach location makes this a perfect tune-up venue to kickoff your race season. The out-and-back 5K and 10K courses send runners up historic Main Street on a slight- but steady- incline. It's comforting to keep in mind, though, that what goes up must come down; the final stretch of both races is a fast downhill finish.
Looking for a PR?
“We added the 10K course because we wanted to do something new for the race's 15th anniversary,” notes Lisa Christie, executive director, Nashua Soup Kitchen and Shelter, and race organizer. “We've also been looking to attract more runners to the event. There are so many 5Ks, but there aren't a lot of 10K races in N.H., and especially in Nashua.” Christie worked with a local running club and the RRCA to have both courses certified as state championship races, which gives you a chance to catch a glimpse of some excellent local running talent. And since the 10K course is slated as the first NH Grand Prix race of the season, there's guaranteed to be a rabbit somewhere in the pack to pull you to a new PR. Both are net downhill.
The RRCA NH Grand Prix series encompasses one race each month for seven months, with distances ranging from 5K to 10 miles. Each race in the series is hosted by a different running club throughout the state. The series gives local running clubs a chance at some friendly competition, and the ability to accumulate points based on individual and team results. If you’re a member of another New England-based running club, this gives you a chance to see how you match up against other N.H. teams! The NSK&S marks the only 10K NHGP event in the 2008 season.
Double the Fun
This event isn't just about competition and getting tuned up for a busy race season. The crowd support, well-managed traffic control, great race-day organization and a stocked post-race feast make this perfect for first-time racers as well. “Quite a few people have said that this 5K was their very first race,” notes Christie. The addition of the 10K event gives some of those first-time 5K runners a chance to double their fun and run their first 10K race! The first NSK&K 5K hosted about 300 runners and walkers; entries have reached up to 700 in previous years. Christie is hoping that this year's races reach a field of 1,000 runners for both the 5K and 10K. This is the first 10K in downtown Nashua since the old USATF (TAC) Championship Nashua Trust 10K.
The NSK&S Run for Food and Shelter is also a great way for the whole family to raise money for a worthy, vitally important organization that's been giving back to the greater Nashua community for more than a quarter of a century. Established in 1981, the Nashua Soup Kitchen began serving meals to people in need throughout the greater Nashua area. Within two years, the organization merged with the Nashua Area Shelter for the Homeless – forming the NSK&S and serving poor and homeless men, women and children throughout the community. In the past year, the organization served about 45,000 meals, hosted about 12,000 shelter bed nights in the homeless shelter, and gave out about 780 turkeys and food baskets to families and individuals for both Thanksgiving and Christmas – and those numbers continue to rise every year. “The price of gas and heating oil has gone up this year, so people who were struggling to begin with are having a more difficult time now,” adds Christie. Other services that the organization offers include community advocacy, employment/education programs, assistance in locating permanent and affordable housing, rent and fuel assistance, and transitional housing.
While event organizers can guarantee a good race that raises money for a great cause, they can't necessarily bank on perfect weather. New Hampshire weather is known for its unpredictability – especially in April. But being a rain-or-shine event just adds to the fun, and race directors and volunteers for this 15-year event have seen it all. “Every year is a little different," says Christie. “The best weather we had was warm and sunny, with temps in the 70s. The worst weather we experienced was the year when we had to de-ice everything, including the finish line. We marked the course throughout the city with barrels and cones. But when we went to clean those up after the race, they were completely frozen to the road.” But typically the weather is ideal for running.
Other race day events include the Kids' Sprint for those 9 years old and younger, and a 3K family walk. Custom-designed medals will be awarded to the top 3 overall finishers in each age group, as well as top male and female police officers. Participants are also encouraged to obtain sponsors and raise pledge money. All proceeds benefit the programs of the Nashua Soup Kitchen and Shelter. The youth (18 and under) who hands in the most pledge money on race day will win an iPod; and those who raise more than $150 will receive a restaurant gift certificate! Primary sponsors for 2008 include Subaru of Nashua and the Nashua Police Patrolman's Association.
Don't Forget the Party
The NSK&S Run for Food and Shelter 5K and 10K races will offer a little something for everyone: run your first 5K or 10K, earn some points for your running club or team, engage in a little friendly competition, watch some top New England runners in action, and maybe chalk up a new PR for yourself on a great course! Once the race is over, though, runners and walkers can warm up or cool down (depending on that race day weather!) and enjoy some of the best post-race food in the area -- refreshments, sandwiches, salads, cookies and other desserts. And, if you don't feel like racing to the finish, don't worry... organizers keep the party going to make sure that there's food left, no matter when you finish. I can't think of a better way to kick of the 2008 race season and raise some money for a worthy cause!
About the author
Michelle Boisvert is a professional writer and technology editor, as well as a Marathon runner and triathlete. She lives in N.H., with her husband Peter.