The Beautiful Surftown Half Marathon and New 5K at Misquamicut State Beach, Westerly, Rhode Island
Your September Half Marathon has added a new 5K and more runners can enjoy this beautiful corner of Rhode Island shoreline, a lovely, picturesque place to run. They call it the Ocean State for good reason; some of the most beautiful beaches and seaside villages in the east are here, and this tour blasts off on Sunday, September 15, 2013. This race is a wonderful reason to gather the family for a day trip or weekend getaway to this charming corner of southern New England.
Posted Thursday, 22 August, 2013
The Surftown Half Marathon and new 5K are scenic tours on a relatively flat course along Block Island Sound and through the quintessential seaside towns of Watch Hill and Weekapaug, which are part of Westerly and just a few miles off Interstate 95. Westerly is also served by Amtrak (Boston-New York route). This race gives you ocean views, beaches and marshes, a lighthouse and Victorian architecture along a tour that begins and ends adjacent to Misquamicut State Beach, one of the nicest in New England. Misquamicut is a place of sand, surf and sun with wide white beaches and very few tourists in mid September.
This is a gorgeous time to come to this ocean side destination because the weather is still summery and lovely, but the beach traffic will be gone—there are 2,100 parking spots a Misquamicut State Beach. With Surftown you will enjoy small-town charm with a first class big time race, and it is directed by the Hartford Marathon Foundation, one of the best event management teams in the USA. It is everything a runner could hope for in a New England road race, and is wonderfully positioned on the calendar in mid September. And it is wonderfully positioned geographically to provide an absolutely gorgeous setting and easy access. The half marathon and new 5K run and walk provide options so everyone can get in on the exciting action on this personal record course. The races will be limited to 2,400 participants combined.
This is also a wonderful race for volunteers, who receive T-shirts and are included, of course, in the post race celebrations with clam chowder and beer.
Misquamicut State Beach, a one half mile stretch of beach on Block Island Sound, is located at 257 Atlantic Avenue, Westerly, RI 02891. Good visibility brings views of the sound as well as Block Island and the tip of Long Island—not to mention dunes, salt ponds, many beaches and lovely homes.
It seems a world away when you are there, but….It is located less than an hour from Hartford and Providence, and two hours from Boston; easily accessible from all directions.
Many participants in both races will have a shot at a prize because they offer so many: Top three overall, top three in each 5-year age group from kids to 80+, and Athena and Clydesdale divisions, plus wheelchairs. The 5K age divisions start at 9-and-under, while the half marathon age groups start with 15-and-under.
Not only is this event an enjoyable, scenic adventure; it is also a rewarding one with a custom keepsake finisher’s medal and dri-release shirt for all pre-registered runners. And the finish festivities are a big draw with great food, live music and, of course, beer.
Please see the website for details: www.hartfordmarathon.com/Events/Surftown_Half_Marathon___5K.htm
Course, Registration and Pickup
The races start early so the finish will be nice and early too. Late registration (if available) and packet/T-shirt pickup begins at 6:00 a.m. at the Misquamicut Beach on race morning. But do get there early as Atlantic Avenue will be closed to traffic at 7:00 a.m.
The races have a 7:30 start, both the half and the 5K.
Early packet pickup and registration will be available on Friday (9/13/13) from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. at the Hartford Marathon Foundation headquarters, 41 Sequin Drive, Glastonbury, CT; and on Saturday from 1:30 to 4:00 p.m. at the Knickerbocker Café, 35 Railroad Avenue, Westerly, Rhode Island.
The half marathon two-loop course is outstanding for spectators as runners pass the start again at the half way point as they first head east, then west. There are excellent course maps on the race website. There are long straight-aways and easy turns with a modified out-and-back to the east for the first half with a nice one-mile counter-clockwise loop on the eastern end in Weekapaug. After passing the start at the halfway mark the course takes you through Avondale and Watch Hill with its beautiful Victorian architecture and gabled cottages, and views overlooking Little Narragansett Bay and Block Island Sound. The lighthouse, Olympia Tea House, and stately Ocean House Hotel are attention getters on this breathtaking counter-clockwise loop. It includes Shore Road and Ocean View Highway.
The music and support along the course are also memorable with Reggae, Jimmy Buffet covers, and steel drums—beach music—with six water/aid stations and digital clocks every other mile.
There will be pace teams running 15 minute incremental times from 1:45 to 3:00, which can be very helpful for inexperienced runners.
This race truly has something for everyone; family and friends are encouraged to participate—half marathon, 5K road race, 5K walk, or participation as a volunteer.
Yes, this race has all the amenities, but the more important point here is the beautiful beaches, ocean views and marshes, as well as stunning views and architecture within the villages. What a beautiful course!
Last year Katie Chaput of Mount Hermon, Massachusetts captured the women’s half marathon with 1:22:49 and set a new course record; Brian Mahoney of Quincy, MA won the men’s race in 1:13:33. Matt Pelletier of Warwick, Rhode Island set the men’s record at 1:08:04 in 2011. Remarkable Masters performances included Bob Lynch of Westfield, MA with 1:19:11 to win the 50-54 division and capture third overall. Lisa Kaplan of Waltham, MA won the 40-44 division with 1:26:21 and was third female overall. This will be the first running of the Surftown 5K. The 2011 and 2012 races, almost 1,500 strong, were nearly 60% women-a distance now being dominated by female participants in general. Again, with the new 5K added the fields combined will be capped at 2,400 participants.
Quaint, Historic Westerly
Westerly is truly a unique New England town of about 23,000 permanent residents. It is at the very southwestern corner of Rhode Island in Washington County, or as the locals call it, “South County.” It was the hometown of two-time Boston Marathon winner Ellison “Tarzan” Brown.
Notable is the Babcock-Smith House at 124 Granite Street. Joshua Babcock was one of the town founders, the first physician, postmaster and friend of Benjamin Franklin, a frequent visitor. Later owner Orlando Smith discovered granite on the property and developed a huge nationwide granite business which continued into the 1960’s. Westerly was famous for its several quarries and talented stone cutters, and Westerly granite was used in many public and private buildings (Georgia State Capital) and statuary and gravestones throughout the east coast—especially prominent in memorials at Gettysburg. This historic home and estate is open to visitors.
In addition to downtown or center Westerly, there are 11 different villages which make up this remarkable town. The Surftown Half Marathon course winds through five of them: Misquamicut, of course, Weekapaug, Winnapaug, Avondale and Watch Hill. Watch Hill is home to the last remaining “Flying Horse” carousel operating in the country. Built in 1863 and brought to Watch Hill in 1883, it is unique in that the 20 horses are suspended from a central frame and are not attached to the floor but fly free like a swing while in motion.
Westerly has a lot of charm and history, with many buildings and neighborhoods on the National Register of Historic Places, including part of the central village and incredible Watch Hill with quaint shops, the five star Ocean House Hotel, and everyone’s favorite restaurant, the Olympia Tea Room. Westerly is the westernmost town in Rhode Island, and Watch Hill was named because it was a lookout post in early days during the French and Indian War and the Revolution; it was incorporated in 1669, though it was settled well before that. Beaches, ocean views, and salt pond views abound. What a lovely town and wonderful place to run.
Westerly State Airport has regular air taxi service to Block Island. Just a few miles east are Charlestown and the Ninigret National Wildlife Refuge and Conservation Area; as well as Burlingame State Park. Within what is now Ninigret NWR was once Charlestown Naval Air Station, which was enormously busy during World War II and into the 1960’s (President George H.W. Bush went through aviation training there before he got orders to the Pacific.) Peaceful now, only small traces of it remain.
The very tip of Westerly-Watch Hill is Sandy Point, once a peninsula and now an island—ironic given the destruction wrought by Hurricane Sandy in the area last year.
Proceeds from this race will benefit Misquamicut Beach Recovery.
This event is part of the Misquamicut Fallfest Weekend with national headline entertainment, amusements, children’s events, classic cars, food and craft vendors, fireworks and much more! Please visit www.misquamicutfestival.org for details.
Hartford Marathon Foundation—Community Spirit and Green Initiatives
Hartford Marathon Foundation events are as “green” as any in the USA. So at the awesome post race celebration with terrific food, beer and music, expect a totally “green” presentation, including the course. HMF is the organization that brings you the ING Hartford Marathon and related races, along with about 43 other events throughout Connecticut and Rhode Island. Have a look at what this remarkable group, dedicated to fitness and green living, brings to the running community: Check out their event schedule and results, training tips and programs, volunteer and sponsorship opportunities, Fit Kids programs, the HMF store, green initiatives, mission statement and contacts: www.hartfordmarathon.com
The Fun Continues at the Finish
Even after your beautiful running tour, with that tremendous sense of accomplishment that comes with meeting your challenge, even more fun continues after crossing your finish line. Post race activities include great food, live music and award presentations.
The website provides a ton of information, including photos and videos, with links for registration, athlete info, course description, awards listings, volunteering, past results, directions and parking, hotel details, and much more. Runners will find no greener running pastures than the wonderful sea-side setting of this great event. Don’t miss out--register now!