Cerrone Providence Half Marathon
World-class right from the start, this will be one of the nation’s best half marathons. It will have an outstanding field, terrific prize structure, and, best of all, an excellent loop course tour through scenic, historic Providence.
Posted Monday, 28 June, 2004
September 26th of 2004 will be one of the most important days of the year, certainly on the running calendar. It will be the inauguration of the Providence Half Marathon at the Rhode Island State Capitol; running when weather in New England is generally ideal for racing. New races of this caliber don’t come along often, but this one promises to be a World Class, World Best event right out of the gate. And it will run in one of America’s most interesting cities, the Renaissance City of Providence.
There will be a Health and Fitness Expo at the Rhode Island Convention Center on Saturday, September 25th from noon to 6:00 p.m. This will also be the time and place for packet, chip, and T-shirt pick up and late registration. The registration tables will also be available race morning, the 26th, from 6:30 a.m. until race time at 7:55.
The facilities for the pre and post race activities are first class, including the convention center, the beautiful starting location at the state house, the post-race refreshments—also at the convention center—and the awards ceremony at the Westin Hotel, adjacent to the center. Changing facilities will be available at the convention center.
“Our intentions are to present a first-class, national-class event that includes both elite runners and a large field of competitors of varied experience, first timers through experienced distance runners, while treating every entrant equally." Gerry Beagan, Race Director
Bill Rodgers, one of the most famous distance runners in the world, and one of the most amiable, will be on hand at the Expo, and will sign autographs and discuss his remarkable experiences from around the world. Boston Billie, four time winner at Bean town and also four time winner of the New York Marathon, plants inspiration wherever he goes—a true ambassador of the sport.
The race will begin in the shadow of the state house, only a few minutes warm-up from the Rhode Island Convention Center, with a gently rolling loop to the west-northwest of about six miles. There is a net downhill over the 13.1-mile course of 62 feet, with the highest course elevation only 152 feet just beyond the three-mile mark (the highest elevation in the entire state is 812). This first loop carries runners past Providence College, Rhode Island College, the Providence Place Mall, the Woonasquatuket River, the New Amtrak Station, and returns near the Convention Center.
The second half is a pleasant and very flat loop to the south, passing the Riverwalk and Citizens Plaza just beyond the Convention Center, then touring the Financial District, the Arcade, and Johnson and Wales University. Runners will dance past the Providence Performing Arts Center, and glide past the entrance to beautiful Roger Williams Park, and many other landmarks.
In turning towards home, there will be a good view of the Providence skyline, including the famous Rhode Island School of Design, and Brown University, one of the oldest universities in the USA (University Hall, build in 1770, was used as a barracks for French and Colonial troops during the Revolutionary War).
The last portion of the race is very fast, with a blazing finish at the convention center. There could not be a more interesting course in any downtown, in any city. The course travels along a course that is as dynamic as it is varied. Providence has a revitalized downtown, with retail shops, Providence Place Mall (a model for any city center) historic canals, 18th century homes and shops, and the beautiful State House, Rhode Island’s state capitol building.
For family and friends, this is a spectator friendly course, with easy access to the start, the mid way point, and the finish, all within a few tenths in central Providence. The course is USATF certified, and Granite State Racing Services will provide rapid and accurate results, using the Championchip computer timing system.
Seeing Providence and Rhode Island
Take some time to look around. There are such diverse and wonderful places to see and visit; a trip to Providence is a terrifically rewarding experience. Providence and Rhode Island are wonderfully rich in history, art, and fascinatingly interesting places, many within walking distance of the start and finish of this race. For example, the Museum of Art at the Rhode Island School of Design is absolutely breathtaking, as is the Culinary Archives and Museum at Johnson and Wales University.
Add the Rhode Island Children’s Museum, the Heritage Harbor Museum, the USS Saratoga and Russian Submarine Museum, the First Unitarian Church (Paul Revere’s largest bell), the John Brown House, the Old State House, the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame (Providence Civic Center), and you have a terrific tour.
One of the many great things about Rhode Island is you can get to anywhere in the state very quickly. It is only 48 miles long and 36 wide (only 22.5 at the narrowest point), a total of only 1,214 square miles. However, the smallest state has a beautiful 450 miles of ocean shoreline. Officially called Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, it has had a huge impact on American history. It was established in 1636, and was the first colony to officially declare independence in May of 1776. The state motto is also that of many runners, “Hope”.
In addition to tours of Providence, visitors can quickly and easily visit the famous mansions of nearby Newport (the Breakers, Belcourt Castle, the Elms, Marble House, Rosecliff, and others), walk the Oceanside cliffs, enjoy the spectacular Ocean Drive, or stroll the beaches of South County such as Narragansett.
There are hundreds of scenic places to run and walk, and some unusual spots as well. Museums and parks abound, and are as varied as the Gilbert Stuart Birthplace and Museum in North Kingstown, to the Daggett Farm and Slater Mill of Pawtucket, also home of the Pawtucket Red Sox.
The State House—the half marathon starting line--is an attraction in itself, and a national historical landmark. The dome is the fourth largest self-supported dome in the world, topped by the sculpture “Independent Man”. This beautiful building of gleaming marble contains the original colonial charter of 1663 from King Charles II; the large, priceless parchment is visible to all in its glass and steel vault. An array of famous paintings and other treasures, as well as famous battle flags from Rhode Island units are inspiring.
The Half Marathon Organization
The same team that put on the Ocean State Marathon will bring the top-notch event to you. The Cerrone Auto Group of nearby South Attleboro, Massachusetts, is the title sponsor, and the primary beneficiaries of the race will be the Boys and Girls Clubs of Providence. This is a world-class event, but it is also a local and regional race, and will be the 8th of the 10-race Rhode Island series, the pRIx Grand Prix. Hundreds of volunteers will staff the course and the pre and post race activities. Those who do not want to race can still be involved by volunteering in this first-class event.
World-class runners will blaze the way in this race, which includes an ideal combination of great organization, large cash prizes, strong competition, and a world-best, fast course. This is one of those rare opportunities for the best runners, as well as average runners to participate on the same course at the same time as the greats—national and world champions. It is inspiring to be a part of the same event as some of the greatest runners in the world.
“Our intentions are to present a first-class, national-class event that includes both elite runners and a large field of competitors of varied experience, first timers through experienced distance runners, while treating every entrant equally,” said Gerry Beagan, Race Director.
A Test for Teams
Teams are not only encouraged to participate, but will be an integral part of the competition. This is one of the few half marathons with significant rewards for teams. They will give the race a different dimension. There will also be teams of public servants, with special divisions for State Troopers and other police officers, as well as firefighters.
Awards are Many
The top woman and man will net $4,000, with cash prizes going 3 deep ($2,000 and $1,000) in the open division. There will also be cash prizes for masters, seniors, and veterans, creating hot competition and races within the race. The top masters women and men will receive $1,000, with seniors earning $750 for first place in the division. In a rare awards offering, the 60-69 winners will earn $500, and those 70 and over $250.
Top women’s and men’s teams will receive $2,000, with $750 for second and $250 for third. Teams will be made up of five members, with the top three scoring. A total of $25,000 will be awarded.
Additionally, there will be age group prizes, with the top three in each (five year) divisions receiving awards. In a special offering, every 100th finisher will receive a $50 gift certificate. There will be airline tickets to Florida for the first Rhode Island woman and man, and rewards in the police and firefighter divisions.
“We are extremely excited to offer a prize purse that ensures a highly competitive field of outstanding international runners,” said Al Cerrone of Cerrone Auto Group, the title sponsor.
Getting To Providence
Runners can come in by Amtrak rail, only a short walk from the start and finish and convention center. Green Airport is only 15 minutes south of the city center. Or Interstate 95 (Exit 22) slices through the city only blocks from the Capitol and the Convention Center. There is plenty of parking near the state offices and the state house not far from the start line.
If you have never been to Providence, you are in for a terrific treat with something for every interest. There are many restaurants for those post race meals and refreshments. Travel packages are available with discounts for airfare and hotels. See the Web Site for details.
Thousands will want to be a part of this event in Providence. Participation within a world-class event with championship caliber athletes will present a great opportunity for the New England region. The mostly flat and blazing fast course, the historic and scenic loops through All-American neighborhoods, and first class organization are also a big draw. This is a terrific running resource for runners in New England and the Northeast, and they will not be missing this one. In fact, runners are expected from all over the nation. Those who can stay a few days and enjoy the offerings of “Little Rhody”, the Ocean State, will be very glad they did. All runners will enjoy a rich and inspirational experience. It will be an exhilarating run in Providence.