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home > community > viewpoint > beautiful cape cod is the place to be for the 30th dunkin’ donuts cape cod marathon and marathon relay

Beautiful Cape Cod is the place to be for the 30th Dunkin’ Donuts Cape Cod Marathon and Marathon Relay
This scenic pearl of an event is yours to pluck this fall, Sunday, October 28, 2007 at 8:30 a.m. at the Village Green,cFalmouth, Cape Cod, MA.

Beautiful Cape Cod is the place to be for the 30th Dunkin’ Donuts Cape Cod Marathon and Marathon Relay

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By Christopher Russell
Posted Thursday, 17 May, 2007

This is one of those rare well-balanced races that works well on many levels. This marathon is renowned for the beauty of the course, the professionalism of its organization by the Falmouth Track Club and the local tradition it brings. It doesn’t matter whether you’re out for a PR campaign, a weekend getaway or a first time challenge – the Dunkin’ Donuts Cape Cod Marathon in Falmouth is the ticket for you.

Wonder why?

  • Why do such a high percentage of runners return to this event year after year?
  • Why do so many first-timers choose to start their marathon careers here?
  • Why does the same core of volunteers return enthusiastically each season?
  • Why do the locals and town officials go out of their way to support this event?
  • Why do the local elites put this race on their calendars?
  • Why do so many runners PR on this course?

It is simple. There is no mystery. The Dunkin’ Donuts Cape Cod marathon delivers a consistent experience. You get exactly what you need and expect, and as a runner that is priceless.

You won’t find a prettier course
“One of the 10 most scenic marathons in America”[
- Runner’s World

Ask anyone who has run this course. I’ve run it twice (well I actually walked parts of it, but that’s another story!) The first thing they will say is how pretty the course is. The scenery is fantastic – classic-post-card-perfect Cape Cod.

Sections of the course run along the ocean with long views of light houses guarding the entrance to Nantucket Sound. The inland sections traverse working cranberry bogs in mid harvest. The course winds through Cape villages and tree covered lanes. No highways, no noisy commotion, just you and 1200 of your friends on a long run through the Massachusetts seashore countryside.

“Marathon course was candy for the eyes…”
- Jon, NY

This is a loop course that starts and ends at the pretty and historic village green in the center of Falmouth. The first 5 miles or so follow the shoreline with nice ocean views. The first 10 – 11 miles are flatish and restful. Both times I ran the scenery combined with the undemanding first half pulled me out way too fast!

“CCM was my very first marathon. My running partner and I found this course to be absolutely beautiful. We had trained in the mid-Atlantic on a much hillier route, so the rolling Kettle-Moraine landscape was a break from that. …The volunteers were outstanding and I was so pleased as a near-the-end finisher that they hadn't cleaned everything up and gone home! I would recommend this event to anyone - from the novice to the expert runner. Everyone made us feel welcome and it made our accomplishment that much more meaningful.”
- Sarah, MD

After 5 miles or so along the ocean the course turns back into the countryside. It’s really pretty. These are back roads that are lined with the oak and pine trees found on the Cape. In the early fall foliage you’ll be protected from the sun and wind. It’s amazing how quiet it is.

If you’ve been foolhardy and lulled into pushing the pace, the course will reach out and knock some sense into you after mile 15 where it becomes a series of short, steep rolling hills. Through this section you’ll run along the course of the famous Falmouth Road Race. You can close your eyes and picture yourself in a pack with the running luminaries who have run this path over the last 30 plus years.

You’ll run through Woods Hole and past the picturesque Nobska Light at mile 22. Around mile 23 you burst back into a wonderful ocean view along Vineyard Sound and it is flat back to the finish at Falmouth center. Since it’s a loop course, typically you get a head wind in the first couple miles and a tail wind at the end.

There is no debating how pretty the course is. Eye candy! There is some debate among those of us who have run it about whether it is hard or not. Both times I’ve run it has beat me, but it was my own fault, not the course. If you respect the distance and run smart you can PR here and a surprising percentage (30%) of runners do.

“This was my 11th marathon, but first CCM. I figured it would take me forever to finish with all the wind, but I ended up setting a PR by almost 3 minutes. The volunteers on the course are great, the course allows family to see you 5+ times and the course is beautiful... A nice race and a beautiful place to spend a weekend.”
- J.B. RI

When you’re done you can do what I did and find a beach to soak your old legs in the 50 degree water!

Veteran organization and local support
The Dunkin’ Donuts Cape Cod Marathon is entering its 30th year. This organization has experience. The CCM was a race born in the late 70’s Massachusetts running boom. These folks, (700 plus volunteers) focus on the runners. One of the defining characteristics of the event is the organization. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – your experience as a participant will in great measure be determined by the maturity and commitment of the organization behind the event.

In the case of Cape Cod, the Falmouth Track Club is the organization behind the event. In an era when more and more road races are staged by professionals, the FTC stands out as a shining exception to this trend. Every person involved with the event is a volunteer except for a part-time administrator. At the heart of the race organization is a 30-person marathon committee. Each member oversees a particular area such as the course, water stations, relay exchanges, medical, expo, the start/finish area, and even music on the course! And every one of those folks does their job as a labor of love. In 1983, Courtney Bird agreed to race director for one year. 2007 will be the 25th year that he and his wife Carolyn have orchestrated the event. But as Bird points out, “This is a team effort by everyone. The key is delegating responsibility and creating an atmosphere in which those involved with the event know that, despite the hard work, it is a lot of fun.”

The Falmouth Track Club and its marathon committee bring a consistency and professionalism that makes the race a high-quality experience. Having the same organizers and volunteers each year ensures continuity and eliminates surprises for the participants.

“I had a great experience running the Cape Cod Marathon. It was very well planned, the volunteers were great, the spectators were awesome and the scenery was breathtaking. A little windy, but magnificent overall.”
- M.S. Miami

The local community really supports the event. From the residents to the town officials, everyone pitches in and makes it friendly, organized and welcoming. The true measure of support is how the locals pull together when the event has a challenge. We all know there is always a challenge!

I’ll give you an example: The night before last year’s race a tremendous storm howled up through Nantucket Sound. With only hours to go before the start the course was covered with two-foot deep puddles and two-foot high sand drifts. There were trees and rocks and power lines down on the course.

In my experience, most town officials would by default insist on canceling the race and hide behind their liability clauses. Not the folks in Falmouth. The DPW crews worked all night to clear the roads and the police department encouraged the event to go on. By race time the roads were clear and safe. Now that’s support!

"You guys rock!! Out of the five marathons I have hobbled though, without a doubt, Cape Cod was the most special. Fantastic scenery, made all the more interesting by 55 mph wind gusts, adding some real spice to memories that will be fondly revisited. Kudos to the local authorities and organizers for pulling out all the stops and getting out there at 3:30 a.m. in the morning cleaning up sand, water and trees in the middle of a storm. Way to go, guys. Fantastic crowd support all the way around. These guys had to be more nuts than the runners to be standing around in these conditions!! For anybody who has not done a Cape Cod Marathon, it's a must-do!!"
- Martin, Jakarta [Indonesia]

You’ll see the residents along the course staffing impromptu aid stations and celebrating with the runners. The organizers let everyone know the event is coming by posting signs all along the course in the preceding weeks. The residents respond by coming out of their shingled Cape houses and joining the party.
1200 first timers and veterans

“Local spectator support was also fantastic and made for a great first-time experience.”
- F.N. Weymouth

Many people choose the Dunkin’ Donuts Cape Cod Marathon as their first marathon. It’s a good choice. The course is memorable and the support is top notch and predictable. When you’re running your first marathon you don’t want to worry about all that stuff – you want to focus on the race. One of my friends (who is legally blind and ran with a guide) ran it as his first marathon last year and loved it.

“The course is beautiful, the organization is great, and the staff and volunteers are incredibly nice and welcoming. Falmouth in the fall has a nice New England feel. The hills are to be respected but not terrible. It's a great course for spectating if you have family/friends who are willing to drive around to different places on the loop. I'll be back”
- E.A. NYC

All these fresh new faces give the crowd a bubbly exuberance that is really fun to be part of. (Ahhh the naiveté of the first time marathoner…) Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you will be lonely on the course because it’s not a ‘big city race’ – there are plenty of people to run with – I was never without friends, but you do avoid the overwhelming claustrophobic crush of an urban event.

The other cool demographic is the high percentage of returning veterans who run the race every year. This combination of veterans and neophytes gives the crowd an interesting mélange. I could get away with re-telling all my old stories!

“I have now completed 39 marathons in many different cities and I would definitely say that Cape Cod is the most scenic to date. I would rate this race as highly recommended because of the low fees; scenic roads and finish line food and you can get inexpensive hotels, if you look around. The director tries his very best and that is all you can ask for.

I would do this race every year if I could…”
Mervyn, Toronto

The crowd is geographically mixed as well with a high percentage of New Englanders and also a big clump of outlanders. Entrants from all over treat it as a destination race and wrap a weekend holiday on Cape around it.

Stay awhile
If you are from out of town consider spending the week “on Cape”. Cape Cod is a well-known vacation spot. I have a house in Harwich, on the “Mid-Cape” and have spent odd parts of summer on Cape for years. Falmouth hangs on the immediate underside of the Cape Cod ‘arm’. Once you cross the bridge, you follow rte 28 towards Woods Hole and you are there.

It is from Woods Hole that you can catch the ferries out to Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. If you were to continue through the Mid-Cape up the arm towards the ‘fist’ you will traverse the Outer-Cape and end up in Provincetown. They just finished repaving the rail trail bike path that goes some 60 miles from the Mid-Cape to the end – it’s an awesome ride.

"The quiet beauty of the race course makes it absolutely one of the best marathons in terms of aesthetics....I have also run marathons in Fairbanks, Alaska, N.C., Tenn., Alabama and Boston. The Cape Cod race was extremely well organized. I will return again ... This race is highly recommended. And if you haven't been to Cape Cod area, this is the perfect time to explore a beautiful and historical part of our country.”
- Greg, Memphis

October isn’t a bad time to visit the Cape. The leaves will be turning with the onset of ‘foliage season’ across New England. There will be hay bales, corn stalks and pyramids of pumpkins. The weather will still be warm during the day with crisp nights. It’s typically great running weather. The crush of summer tourists will be gone, but everything will still be open and hotel and rentals will be off-season reasonable.

Local Stars
“1996 Road Race of the year”
- New England Runner Magazine

The Dunkin’ Donuts Cape Cod Marathon and Relay is (and has been for 20 of the last 21 years) the USATF-NE championship race. There is $15,000 in prize purse and it is spread around in such a way to attract the local talent. You probably won’t have international stars, but you’ll get the cream of the local club runners in this race.

Last year in windy conditions, Shad Miller from Providence, RI and running for Whirlaway had a personal best time of 2:28:14 to top a strong men's field. Heidi Westerling of Narragansett, RI running for the BAA easily repeated her previous year's victory with a 2:47:32. The marathon is very competitive among the local elites and club runners.
The course records are:

  • Men's: Randy Thomas 2:17:35 (1986)
  • Women's: Cathy Schiro O'Brien 2:37:06 (1987)

When you’re done the whole crew will be treated to famous clam chowder and a good meal. If you hang around there will be post race partying and all sort of carrying on. The famous New England Runner Post-Race Party with live entertainment by the BaHa Brothers and delicious libation provided by the Offshore Ale Company at the Falmouth Inn Sunday afternoon.

"This was my first marathon -- I was looking for a cool-weather spot with good scenery…People were great, the scenery was fabulous, and the race well organized. Wish the school (food and shower afterwards) was a bit closer to the finish line, but all in all, well worth it."
- D.P. CO

The marathon is limited to 1200 entries and sells out each year. If you wait until the last second you may be boxed out. Register now and avoid the angst.
What, where when and how?

Sunday, October 28, 2007 at 8:30 a.m. -
The race consists of the marathon and a team relay. The relay is a five-leg affair for teams of 2 to 5 members and it runs simultaneously with the marathon. Legs range from 3.05 to 6.35 miles. Many companies sponsor corporate relay teams.

Both races start and end at the village green in Falmouth center. The loop course provides spectators the ability to see the runners multiple times throughout the race without difficulty. There are water stops every 2.5 miles. There are splits shown at 6 spots throughout the course. Medical aid stations and portajohns dot the course at most water stops and all the relay points.

You’ll be serenaded by bands and see Elvis on the course too – but hoopla isn’t an overwhelming sideshow here, it’s just the volunteers having a good time and showing support.

Come down to the Cape and run the 30th Dunkin’ Donuts Cape Cod Marathon and Marathon Relay…
Whether it’s you first or fifty-first marathon, this event will guarantee an experience that will reward your attendance. Come on down and see what everyone has been talking about for the last 30 years. Cape Cod is a beautiful place and this is a beautiful race.
Make the Dunkin’ Donuts Cape Cod Marathon your destination in October and you won’t be disappointed!



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