Reach the Beach Relay - oh so much fun!
The Wampanoags had so much fun last year that they're going back next weekend.
Posted Monday, 13 September, 2004
In the 70's and 80's, the Plymouth to Provincetown Relay was a
popular September event where locals would test their mettle as
both runners and teammates. The Wampanoag Road Runners would
field as many as seven teams of eight runners to compete in the
84 mile event. The Wampanoag 'Z' team has attained lasting
notoriety for placing behind a Wampanoag women's team during
Plymouth to Provincetown faded away in the early nineties and
with it, the zeal area runners have for the long distance team
relay. PTP was replaced by the Lake Winnipesaukee Relay but
Attleboro area runners never embraced it. The Angle Tree Stone
Relay, a Wampanoag Road Runner inspired 50 mile relay, fell away
as a result of sporadic participation. After a decade of
disinterest, all indications point to a relay renaissance being
rekindled by an event now in its fourth year.
Last September, the Wampanoag Road Runners sent a team of
twelve members to compete in the 208 mile Reach the Beach Relay.
With each individual taking several shifts comprising
approximately 17 miles in total, runners traverse the state of
New Hampshire in a period of 24 hours.
The Wampanoag team was extremely successful, finishing eighth
overall and first in the masters division. They completed the
course in 22:53:17, a brisk pace of 6:37 per mile. It was,
however, not attained without some discomfort. The team got
almost no sleep, ate sparingly and according to Don Burke of
Mansfield, a 'manly scent' could be detected emanating from the
vehicles in the latter stages of the endeavor.
The Wampanoags had so much fun last year that they're going
back again on Sept. 17. They won't be alone.
There will be five teams arriving in Bretton Woods, NH for the
start next Friday that have local runners. Wrentham's Patrick
O'Malley will be the only local member of 'The Reebok Barking
Dogs' and Attleboro's Brian Flynn will be the sole local
representative of 'The Runs'. South Attleboro's Cliff Ennis and
the '11 Hacks and Martin' return for a second year.
The Wampanoags (local runners Attleboro's Bob Bischoff,
Mansfield's Burke, Tom Christofili and Keith Purrier, North
Attleboro's Jeff LaPlante and Wrentham's Roland Desrochers)
return with their 2003 team basically intact.
This year, the focus will be on 'The Bettys', an all women's
masters team that will be launching their first RTB foray. "We
thought that we could put together a very competitive team
filled with great local female runners looking to put some
excitement in their running repertoire," said co-captain Sandy
Sheehy of North Attleboro. "We have succeeded."
Assembling an RTB team is difficult enough for men but for
women it brings unique challenges. "There have been far fewer
all female teams in past years than there were mixed teams,"
Sheehy explained. "I can see why. Busy women with busy lives. It
was difficult to pull this team together. We had to find runners
that could manage back-to-school issues as well as the career
women that had to rearrange travel schedules and more often than
not, both issues."
In addition to Sheehy, 'The Bettys' roster includes Wrentham's
Alicia McGowan, North Attleboro's Jacquie Cavallaro,
Plainville's Kelly Darling-Fess, Norton's Irene McConville,
Dorchester's Laura Hurley and Meghan Willis, Easton's Mim Siegel
and Kat Wood, Barrington's Robyn Couturier, Lincoln, RI's Deidre
Bird and Providence's Amanda Daniels. Seekonk's Kristen Dimuccio
is the alternate.
The team has been in preparation for months and they have been
working hard. The Arizona Cardinals, who recently complained
about the rigors of their NFL training camp, would be hard
pressed to keep up with these women. A late August workout had
'The Bettys' going out for an 8 a.m. ten mile run and then
repeating it at seven that night. Bird cycled the 17 miles from
her home that day, ran ten miles then cycled back. Arizona
Cardinals take note. That's called a three-a-day.
'The Bettys' may have more obstacles to overcome than a men's
team but their reason for participating in RTB differs little
from them. "I am doing this because it is something different to
do with all the women and appears to be extremely challenging,"
said Sheehy before adding perhaps the key fillip. "Oh, yeah, we
think we can win something."
Will the spartan conditions, lack of sleep and 'manly scents'
deter the 'Bettys' in their quest? "The 'Bettys' know that this
is not a beauty contest that has lots of pampering before and
after the race, " Sheehy said. "We are expecting to be
uncomfortable but still have a great time and do well in the
Cancel the 'Z' team comeback ...'The Bettys' have arrived!
Footnotes - . the toughest local 5K, the Plainville Fall
Festival 5K is set for this Sunday at 9:30 a.m.; after a
relatively innocuous first mile, the course makes its way
skyward for a grueling half mile then makes a quick descent for
the balance of the race with a soft landing; call George Miller
(508-699-5660) to book a flight ... inveterate Boston Marathoner
Mike Dutra not only has spirited legs but also a spirited voice;
the Seekonk resident is a singer and performs a 'Strictly
Sinatra' act; check his website www.strictlySinatranow.com for
more info; when Dutra boards the Wampanoag bus to Hopkinton next
April, I'm certain that there'll be a request to serenade the 50
runners with perhaps, 'The Best is Yet to Come'.