The Reach the Beach Relay Celebrates 10 Years—350 Teams, 200 Miles, 24 Hours
It’s the experience of a lifetime--a fabulous late summer overnight relay through New Hampshire. It is one of the longest relays in the USA, an unforgettable 36 legs from the White Mountains, through legendary Lake Country, embracing dozens of small towns to the seashore.
Posted Monday, 31 March, 2008
This will be the 10th running of the highly regarded Reach the Beach Relay, September 12-13, Cannon Mountain, to Hampton Beach, New Hampshire. Experience beautiful mountain vistas, deep valleys, rushing rivers and falling waters, serene lake shores, quiet country roads, fields and farms, beautiful state parks, and sunset and sunrise. You will have the support of teammates, the RTB organization, enthusiastic volunteers, and the communities along the route. This event, covering over 200 miles in roughly 24 hours, is THE relay for many—runners, volunteers, and beneficiaries alike.
Over 75% of the 350 teams allowed have already registered and secured their spot, months in advance. That testifies to the popularity of the event and to outstanding organization. This is simply one of the best, and is so enjoyable and well-run that it is rare for participants to run only one. Many return year after year, and view it as a highlight of their running year. The only down side of this terrific event is that not all teams who want to run can get in. “Been there, done that”, does not apply here. Usually teams are planning for next year right after—or sometimes before—crossing the finish line at Hampton Beach State Park.
All participants will receive a medal, excellent technical shirts from New Balance, team photos, a great post race lunch/dinner, and enough memories to last a lifetime.
This will be the second year the start will be at Cannon Mountain in beautiful Franconia Notch. Runners have easy access via Interstate 93 (2.5 hours from Boston). Franconia Notch and Cannon Mountain are just awesome. Go early and enjoy the nearby Flume Gorge, the adjacent Ski Museum, Echo Lake, and Cannon Mountain Aerial Tramway, which goes to the top of Cannon for spectacular views (rises 2,022 feet in eight minutes). New Hampshire State Parks offers discounts for relay participants for the Flume and Aerial Tramway. Enjoy dinner and live music at Cannon the night before (6:00 to 9:00 p.m.), and breakfast race morning (6:30 to 10:30 a.m.); see the Website for details.
Reach the Beach Relay was a tremendous success right from the beginning. Its inaugural year was 1999, and it has grown steadily since. The event is exceptionally well organized. The race committee has developed a race handbook which governs safety and competition. It addresses concerns for all stakeholders—runners, volunteers, communities, the state, and the environment. Their informative Web Site, www.rtbrelay.com, provides a wealth of information, including maps and on-line registration. It is this incredible standard of organization that has attracted such strong sponsorship support and brought runners back year after year. Check it out for the “who, what, and why”, of this terrific event.
The planning and attention to detail regarding route, rules, safety, transition areas, and van transitions areas (VTA’s), that have gone into the relay will be a tremendous asset during the entire journey, allowing teams to relax and totally enjoy the experience.
Their Community is Your Community
Reach the Beach is a community effort—4,000 runners passing through the larger community of New Hampshire – 32 towns in all. And the interaction between the two is amazing: Scout troops, school and church organizations, volunteer fire departments, Lions Clubs, running clubs, State Parks, US Forest Service, stores, businesses, police departments, and enthusiastic volunteers from many sectors. This is a community adventure for all runners and volunteers, an experience in teamwork and camaraderie that is hard to match in any other sphere (example: Candia Volunteer Fire Department pancake breakfast beginning at 4:00 a.m.). And the natural beauty of New Hampshire and its parks will be on display throughout—White Mountains to white caps.
“We are always looking for ways to improve both the event experience and the bond with the communities along the route” according to Co-Director Rich Mazzola. In 2008, the Reach the Beach Relay becomes a charter event for a new venture called Athletes for a Fit Planet. AFP is a firm that is dedicated to helping race directors adopt environmentally responsible and sustainable practices. “Everybody involved in the race has a role to play in greening the Reach the Beach Relay: the athletes, the sponsors, the volunteers, and of course, the race directors,” said Bruce Rayner, Chief Green Officer for Fit Planet.
The environmental goals for the race in 2008 include reducing and offsetting the carbon emissions from the many race vehicles that transport the 4000-plus athletes along the course, and launching a recycling initiative to divert plastic and other waste away from landfills and into recycling centers. You can learn more about Athletes for a Fit Planet by visiting http://www.afitplanet.com.
The primary beneficiaries of the event are the New Hampshire State Parks, the Avon Foundation, and City Year New Hampshire. RTB is partnering with Avon Foundation’s Need for Speed Relay Against Domestic Violence. RTB was one of their largest fundraisers in 2007 and raised thousands of dollars for this critically important cause. The goal this year is $50,000, and the relay has set various incentives for fundraising (check the Race Website http://www.rtbrelay.com/beneficiaries.php). Funds will be used primarily to help children victimized by domestic violence.
RTB will be limited to 350 teams, as it was last year, to maintain the quality and safety of the experience, and it will sell out early. After registration is sold out, five additional teams will be able to “buy” their way into the race by raising $5000 for the Avon Foundation’s Need for Speed Relay Against Domestic Violence.
Twelve-person teams (8 to 12) and six-person ultra teams (4 to 6) will run around the clock, completing 36 relay legs or stages, each with well-designed transition areas and rest areas. There are 18 divisions—six for women, six for men, and six mixed—that make this event accessible and competitive for all. Three corporate categories create unique opportunities for companies to show their corporate colors, the ultimate team-building program. Running clubs and social organizations will all be represented from throughout the region, the USA, and Canada. The 4,000 participants will share a well-planned, carefully choreographed race from the White Mountains to the sea.
Each person on 12-person teams will run 16.6 miles on average, and ultra runners about 33 miles on average. Teams must finish within 34.5 hours, which is a pace of 10 minutes, 20 seconds per mile. Teams will start according to pace, with slower teams heading out at 7:30 a.m. on Friday, September 12. Starts will be staggered during the day by pace, waves leaving every 30 minutes until 4:30 p.m. All teams will be finished by 9:00 p.m. on Saturday at Hampton Beach State Park.
There will be open, masters, super masters, and grand masters divisions in all three categories. The Ultra teams—made up of six members—add a different dynamic altogether. The three corporate divisions—open women, open men, and mixed open—are in great demand. This relay will be the epitome of camaraderie and teamwork, and a sense of accomplishment far different than individual races.
The Course--State Park to State Park
Beginning at Cannon Mountain and Franconia Notch State Park, the Reach the Beach Relay will run more than 200 miles through the spectacular scenery of northern New England. This late summer trek will pack an unforgettable experience-of-a-lifetime into 24 hours. It will run from the heart of the White Mountains to the surf of the Atlantic Ocean with a wide range of experiences and scenery between.
The first leg heading south through incredibly beautiful Franconia Notch will provide an impressively scenic start and was very popular last year. It is an easy 6.6-mile run south through the Notch on the beautiful Recreational Trail. It runs between the Kinsman and Franconia Mountain ranges, past campgrounds, the Basin, Boise Rock, and more down to the famous Flume Gorge. The second leg is Hard; its 9.3 miles heading south on Route 3 from the Flume through the southern portion of the notch to Lincoln on Route 112. From Lincoln the course will traverse the 34.5 miles of the famous Kancamagus Highway, the “Kanc”, Route 112 east to the town of Conway. The scenery is terrific as legs 2 through six lie within the White Mountain National Forest. Leg three is really tough—the “Hero” leg of 7.8 miles, all uphill along the flank of Mount Kancamagus over the pass to the Pemigewasset Overlook on the east side. Leg four runs 4.8 miles, as does leg five. Both are downhill along the scenic Swift River. Leg six runs 5.8 miles to Lower Falls Picnic Area and Van Transition Area One; and leg seven goes from there to Ham’s Arena in Conway to complete the "Kancamagus Adventure".
Following spectacular mountain vistas, the course runs through the beautiful Lakes Region of New Hampshire, including the shoreline of Squam Lake. The course heads southwest from Conway passing east of Squam Lake and northwest of Lake Winnipesaukee before heading generally south to Candia and Chester. From there the course is mostly east, passing through many villages and towns in route to the sea. Many homes and structures along the route date from revolutionary and early American periods.
The five Vehicle Transition Areas are carefully chosen; they are located every six legs and help tremendously with logistics. Some have campgrounds. They provide plenty of space and all necessary facilities for hydration, rest, and refueling. There are state parks including Franconia, White Lake, Bear Brook, and, of course, Hampton Beach. Many of the 35 transition areas are in or near parks. In addition to the Avon Foundation Need for Speed, proceeds from the race will benefit the New Hampshire State Park system and many community organizations along the race route.
The course passes through so many communities, quintessential New England villages, with a wide variety of scenery and views: Madison, Tamworth, Sandwich, Center Harbor, Meredith, Laconia, Gilmanton, Barnstead, Deerfield, Sandown, Danville, Kingston, Exeter, and Stratham, are only a few of many communities along the course.
Six of the last seven legs are rated “Easy”. Hampton Beach and the finish line will be a welcome sight when the ocean comes into view. The last miles are immediately adjacent to the picturesque shore. The entire team will likely cross the finish line with the final runner at Hampton Beach State Park. They will celebrate their victory with a huge party on the sands of Hampton Beach. Competitors, volunteers, and families will relax and exchange stories about the trek and its most memorable moments. The party will include plenty of food, massage, live music, and fun on the beach. Hampton and Hampton Beach State Park are just off Interstate 95 (one hour from Boston).
Timberland and New Balance return as sponsors, and City Year New Hampshire (sponsored by Timberland) will provide many volunteers. Such events need support from committed sponsors and from communities along the course. New Balance of Boston, which has participated form the very beginning of the relay, has signed on as a new sponsor with a long term commitment. Timberland, based in Stratham New Hampshire, and the State of New Hampshire State Parks system—also participating from the very first run—have provided sponsorship support. The Avon Foundation’s Need for Speed Against Domestic Violence program, now a national relay series, is both a sponsor and a beneficiary of Reach the Beach. And City Year, a vitally important national program, is providing help and volunteers. Additionally, the relay has the enthusiastic support of the White Mountain National Forest Park Service and the US Forest Service who have been instrumental in permitting some of the new course changes.
The Need for Speed Against Domestic Violence National Relay Series
The Reach the Beach Relay will partner with the Avon Foundation and the Need for Speed Against Domestic Violence Relay Series, with sponsorship and support for this vitally important program. Reach the Beach is one of 11 relays chosen from across the country to run in support of this program, which began with the Relay in Westchester County, New York. Funds raised with this series of partnerships and this event will be part of the program aimed at providing help for families and especially children affected by domestic violence. For more information on the program and series go to: www.needforspeedrelay.org or www.avonfoundation.org.
Timberland and City Year
Timberland is a participant and an enthusiastic sponsor. Timberland is a green company, and heavily supportive of community service with their Path of Service Program, which offers paid time off for employees involved in community programs. Check them out at www.timberland.com.
Timberland is also supportive of City Year, donating space in their building to its staff and supporting this vital program. City Year is at work to strengthen New Hampshire communities. For more information on City Year go to www.cityyear.org.
Volunteers come from many community organizations, and many individuals and groups along the way really look forward to this “community in motion” as runners stream through the villages and towns. There is a strong connection between the race, the runners, the volunteers, and the communities and various supportive organizations.
Reach the Beach Organization
Mike Dionne and Rich Mazzola are the Race Directors. They have built a very special event because they listen to the customers--the runners, and the community. The race has evolved and grown with a sensitive ear to what the participants think, and they want your input. You can reach them through e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com. The race phone hotline is 508-881-4505. The mailing address is RTB Relay, Inc., P.O. Box 12, Woodville, MA 01784.
A Ten-Year Winning Tradition
The runners’ experiences are enhanced by their athletic effort, the scenery, the community at large, and by the camaraderie of teammates and competitors. RTB will provide an experience of a lifetime. It offers a race, but much more. Yes, there is wondrous natural beauty all along the course, but it is the sense of community—the running community and the towns and villages they visit, that makes this event so very special.
The Reach the Beach Relay runs 200 miles in 24 hours through some of the most beautiful regions in North America. All 36 legs are very different, every exchange an experience, and every transition area an opportunity to meet runners from many states and provinces. The process of sharing, planning, and supporting each member of your team (and other teams as well) creates a sense of bonding and teamwork.
Reach the Beach Relay is an outstanding event, a highlight of the year for many runners. Cannon Mountain to Hampton Beach—will you be a part of it?