The 54th Annual Yankee Homecoming Ten Miler and 5K—History and Tradition in Newburyport, Massachusetts
Yankee Homecoming races are built on tradition, running a beautiful course in historic Newburyport on the North Shore of Massachusetts. Choose either the 5K or traditional 10-miler, and enjoy one of the best organized events in New England running. USATF-certified courses (and USATF team prizes) bring excellent competition and a great race environment in a bucolic New England seaside town during Homecoming celebrations.
Posted Monday, 22 July, 2013
Here comes the classic, the Yankee Homecoming 10 Miler and 5K, and simply put, it does not get any better for summer racing. They have team competition, cash prizes for teams and individuals, and many certificate awards, wonderful course, quintessential New England seaport town, terrific organization, easy access, and a welcoming, celebrating community. It is an outstanding event and a favorite for many.
For runners in New England Yankee Homecoming is as much a part of summer as going to the beach. That's why, on Tuesday night, July 30, 2013 thousands of runners from throughout New England will return to Newburyport, Massachusetts for the 54th edition of the Yankee Homecoming 5K and 10 Mile Road races.
Through the years the race has been a who’s who of the New England and Northeast running scene. The men’s course record for the ten miler is held by Simon Karori, a familiar sight at the Boston Marathon in the early 1990’s. Karori set the Yankee Homecoming record in 1994, running 48 minutes, one second. For a number of years the race was a USATF-New England championship race—and maybe again next year--bringing the best clubs to the race. Team prize money ($3,650 for USATF teams) and individual cash prizes totaling $4,300 for the ten mile race guarantees the field will be strong.
The 5K history, while more recent, has also seen some of the best of the New England running competition as well. Both races have age categories in five-year increments with running shoe gift certificates offered as prizes going three deep.
It started in 1960—just three years after the Yankee Homecoming week-long celebrations began in 1957--with 30 runners, who finished the original distance of eight miles. As word spread and the running boom grew, so did the Yankee Homecoming event. A shorter race was added (the distance alternating between 3 miles and 5K) and the race’s popularity soared. This year will likely be a record for participation, as they expect 1,600 for each race which would match the peak when over 2,200 finished the ten miler and close to 1,000 ran the shorter event. http://www.yankeerace.com
This is easy to get to, it has an MBTA Commuter Rail stop out of Boston’s North Station, it is right on Interstate 95 and close to Interstate 495 in neighboring Amesbury. It’s only 35 miles northeast of Boston and 21 miles south-southeast of Portsmouth. Newburyport sits on the very northeast corner of Massachusetts North Shore, only five miles from the New Hampshire border on the south bank of the Merrimack River.
On race day they will have all day registration and number/packet pickup at Newburyport High School beginning at 8:00 a.m. (that’s right, 8:00 a.m.) through 5:45 p.m. This is where the race begins and ends, located at 241 High Street, Newburyport, MA 01950.
Yes, late registration will be available, but don’t delay in signing up. Save money. And the first 1,200 in each event receive the commemorative T-shirts for this outstanding classic. Foe further information go to the race website at http://www.yankeerace.com or contact the race director at Yankeeseacoast@comcast.net or call 978-376-5328 (days).
Not surprisingly the race has evolved in its 54 years. Over the years, as technology has changed the face of road racing, Yankee Homecoming has kept up with the times. From manual timing to chip timing, and now Chronotrack timing, Yankee Homecoming has provided the best services to runners. For a number of years the race has also had an announcer proudly calling out the names of runners as they approach the finish line—the 50 yard line of the football field behind the high school, a stadium finish you might say followed by post race refreshments on the field.
For a number of years the race has also had an announcer proudly calling out the names of runners as they approach the finish line—the 50 yard line of the football field behind the high school.
The course accounts for part of the reason for the big turnout. Newburyport is a sightseers dream, drawing tourists from all over. With the sun setting on the old federal style homes and the run through the waterfront section of town runners get a wonderful view of a New England seaport town at its best. Runners finish to large cheers as an announcer calls out names. As one writer once put it, “It is a surreal racing experience.” It’s made all the more so because of the rich history of the seaport town.
Part of that experience comes from the spectators. The race has been around so long that people equate its name with high level racing and a well-organized event. What do you think “Yankee Homecoming” stands for?
The race is part of a week-long celebration in Newburyport, so you can imagine the festive atmosphere that surrounds the race. The Homecoming celebrations include parades, antique cars, an art festival, free concerts, fireworks, street vendors, and so much more.
Folks line the street during the first half of the course when the runners are touring the historic downtown. Both races run essentially a counter-clockwise loop. Both begin on High Street in front of the lovely Newburyport High School, run through the historic town center and along the harbor for the first two miles, and both finish on the 50-yard line of the field immediately behind the school, an excellent view for spectators.
Around the halfway point the course goes close to Maudslay State Park, a beautiful park of over 450 acres which includes huge virgin White Pine stands and the greatest concentration of Mountain Laurel in Massachusetts. There are eagles nesting and lots of wildlife in this gorgeous park on the south shore of the Merrimack River, the site of the ferry landing before bridges were built across the Merrimack.
In the last five miles the course weaves through a residential section of town with charming tree-lined streets. And gardens—Newburyport is known for its gardens, with many dating back to colonial times. It is a disappointment if there aren’t at least five parties or barbecues during that part of the race. It feels like a mid-summer’s smaller version of the Boston Marathon.
All the work for an event this size requires an organization committed to doing the job right. In 1960 the race was organized by the Newburyport Jaycees. In 1980 the Newburyport Lions Club took over and has been running things since, with Jon Pearson serving as the race director for his 33rd year. Jon is one of the longest serving race directors anywhere, and he heads a terrific race organization. Dozens of volunteers spread out from the registration and start area to points all over town make sure the runners are taken care from start to finish.
Proceeds from the race benefit the Massachusetts Lions Eye Research program.
"This is one of my favorite races, and I wouldn't miss it. Not many 10 milers any more, and not many road races of this quality."
The importance of having a significant local business step up as race sponsor is as valuable as any other part of the race. In 2013 Provident Bank returns as sponsor, guaranteeing a successful event and an enjoyable night.
One obstacle that runners often have to battle is the heat. This is New England and it is mid-summer. Some years the runners have been lucky to have cool conditions but on other occasions, like 2006, the temperature has risen. Not to worry. The Lions Club has official water stops while the spectators also chip in. Almost every mile someone will be out there handing out something to drink but one word of caution. If one of the cups being offered comes from a spectator it may require proof of being 21 or over before consumption. The locals embrace this race and all the runners are guests.
This year’s Newburyport races will be held on July 30, 2013. Imagine a beautiful summer evening in the delightful town of Newburyport, Massachusetts, which is worth visiting at any time. Add a huge week-long celebration and some of the best racing in the northeast and it is a sure thing that the 10 miler and 5K will be among the best of the summer.
Each year, hundreds of runners in both the 10-Mile and 5K enjoy a breathtaking course through this bucolic seaside town, running along the ocean for several miles before winding through a state park and charming New England neighborhoods. The Yankee Homecoming 10M and 5K are truly picture perfect. Make sure you are a part of it.
Are you ready to register? Need to know more? The race’s website is www.yankeerace.comwww.yankeerace.com.