The annual Applefest Half Marathon and two-person Half Marathon Relay has earned a lot of praise in its 27-year history for outstanding quality, organization and innovation. It's always been listed as one of New England Runner's Top Races and this year it has been selected as "Race of the Year."
Dedicated to runners by runners, this gem of the host Gate City Striders and the Granite State hasn't rested on its laurels. Any race in its 27th year (the 2009 edition will be held on September 26th) has staying power. Participants from throughout the region, and indeed from throughout the US, flock to the bucolic village of Hollis, NH for this New England classic. Hollis is a rural agricultural town located right on the Massachusetts border, just west of Nashua and Route 3 and only an hour's drive from Boston.
The Striders launched the race just five years after the club was founded in 1978. From the outset, the event has benefited from the full backing of the town and the same primary sponsors for 27 years: Brookdale Fruit Farm (they provide the post race fruit and prize baskets), New England Country Pies (provider of the famous apple crisp and those Mile High Apple Pie prizes, and Kerk Motion Products, an outstanding local business. Hollis Brookline High School provides lockers, showers and changing facilities for all. Chip timing and immediate results eliminate the suspense. There are plentiful and enthusiastic volunteers along with entertaining water stops every two miles (student groups compete for 'best theme' and 'most outstanding').
Twenty-seven years also means that Applefest has developed a remarkable history of competition, highlighted by its innovative single age records, which debuted in the inaugural year of 1983. Anyone setting a single-age record receives an embroidered sweatshirt including name, time, Applefest logo and "Course Record."
There are cash awards for individuals (top three women and men), prizes for top locals, Clydesdale and Filly open and masters, relay teams, plus terrific raffle prizes and unique technical long sleeve T-shirts added to the booty. There's also an $800 bonus available for any woman or man setting a new course record-as this year's top female, Julie Spolidoro of Duxbury, can attest. Yes, cool prizes and lots of them.
Spolidoro ran 1:17:17 to break Patti Laliberte's 25 year-old mark of 1:18:22. Defending champion Mark Mayall won the 2008 race in 1:13:22. Dave Dunham has held the men's mark (1:06:07) since 1992. Peg Donovan, Bruce Butterworth, Sue LaChance, Eric Beauschene, and Fernando Braz have all won here. Dave Parsel, 53, of Costa Mesa, CA is one of the more prolific Applefest zealots. A three-time outright champion, Parsel owns the Masters record (along with three other single-age marks) and this year was the top 40+ runner in 1:18:04.
Participants have always been impressed with the tremendous number and quality of awards, including beautiful commemorative medals for all finishers. The top three in five-year age groups win unique prizes with the first place finisher taking home a huge fruit basket, and the second and third place runners receiving an enormous apple pie worthy of a name like "Applefest."
Everyone, speedy or less so, experiences a feast at Applefest. The Gate City Striders take great pride in their post race party, replete with live music and an 'all you can eat' attitude. The impressive spread compliments the season and the scenery, including the famous apple crisp and more home baked goods from volunteers than you can imagine.
The race is held as Hollis is in harvest season-its orchards are bright with apples and its fields are full of pumpkins. The farms that produce them border the course, and many race participants go apple and pumpkin picking when the racing is done.
Applefest presents a challenging, but beautifully scenic, rural course. The first half of its figure eight design is essentially downhill (the lowest point on the course is just beyond halfway), and there are moderate climbs in the second half. The course includes a fall foliage tour of the historic village center, colonial homes, Monument Square, Silver Lake State Park, forests, cemeteries (where residents who fought at Lexington and Concord, Bunker Hill, and Saratoga lie buried), barns, fields, orchards, farm stands and 300-year-old stone walls.
The course is slightly net downhill and USATF-certified. If you are looking for a flat 13.1, don't come to Hollis. It is an interesting and fair test, and simply beautiful. The designated Historic District includes over 120 homes and other structures, some from the colonial or Revolutionary periods.
The first upper loop of about 3.5 miles is broad and wide and clear for the early miles, with outstanding traffic control. The lower loop, about 9.5 miles, is mostly rural country roads adjacent to fields, orchards, and forests tinged with autumnal colors. In most years there is a single bag piper on a hill near the course, his pipes pumping energy into runners as they attack the infamous series that is known as the "Wheeler Hills."
A two-person team relay was added to the event several years ago. There are 150 relay teams allowed, or another 300 participants, each running approximately 6.5 miles. Second leg runners are bussed to the relay handoff, and teammates are bussed back to the finish. The increasingly popular relay runs the same course with the exchange just beyond the 10K mark.
The course and the race are very spectator-friendly. Family and friends have views at the start, finish, 2-miles, and 11.4, all within easy walking distance. With its current race cap of 1200, there is a higher than usual ratio of volunteers-to-runners to handle parking, H2O stops, the food tent, course logistics and registration. The race directors are GCS members, as are most of the volunteers.
Other volunteers from the Amateur Radio Emergency Service of New Hampshire and the Civil Air Patrol provide course communications, allowing race officials to relay the lead male and female's progress during the race. This communication network is monitored by the Hollis police and emergency service to provide a greater level of course safety. Spectators also enjoy the concession services provided by the Hollis Brookline Girls Cross Country Team.
So there you have it: a unique half marathon held in a gorgeous season in a beautiful village setting and administered by an enthusiastic and experienced running club with no lack of amenities. Between "newbies" and past participants clamoring to 'relive' the experience, this classic autumn event sells out every year. Applefest is a near-perfect race experience. It is a classic autumn event. It is the Race of the Year: The Applefest Half Marathon and Half Marathon Relay-New England fall racing as it should be! -Skip Cleaver
Applefest Single Age Records
Age Male Time Year Female Time Year
10 Andy Raitto 2:19:43 2003 No record established for this age
11 Andy Raitto 2:04:20 2004 No record established for this age
12 Jonathan Sproul 1:46:40 2000 No record established for this age
13 Jonathan Sproul 1:38:46 2001 Claire Green 2:07:22 1983
14 Tom Alsheskie 1:33:35 1984 Katherine Goodwin 1:51:44 1984
15 Tom Alsheskie 1:23:09 1985 Crystal Smith 1:40:49 1995
16 Joseph Keith 1:24:06 1983 Amy Orcutt 1:44:28 2005
17 Tom Alsheskie 1:18:18 1987 Katie Parodi 1:37:48 2000
18 Michael Walsh 1:26:16 2001 Debbie Marston 1:36:05 1988
19 Scott Brennan 1:21:15 1989 Sara Dutton 1:35:07 1983
20 David Hampson 1:13:49 1997 Sarah Lowman 1:34:07 1991
21 Steven Fortier 1:11:39 1984 Theresa Wilson 1:26:53 1983
22 Eric Beauchesne 1:11:48 1992 Allison Barlow 1:29:47 1987
23 Jim Zimmerly 1:07:56 1987 Julie Spolidoro 1:20:34 2004
24 Michael Mazier 1:12:14 1989 Gail Turner 1:26:33 1984
25 Ed Baker 1:10:08 2004 Debbie DeSantis 1:24:41 1983
26 Dave Dunham 1:06:31 1990 Debbie DeSantis 1:20:09 1984
27 Joe Molloy 1:08:18 1989 Julie Spolidoro 1:17:17 # 2008
28 Dave Dunham 1:06:07 # 1992 Anne Hird 1:21:29 1987
29 Dave Dunham 1:08:36 1993 Patti Laliberte 1:18:22 1983
30 Bruce Butterworth 1:08:24 1983 Susan Lupica 1:19:07 1983
31 Steve O'Connell 1:08:45 1989 Michele Jahns 1:23:12 1991
32 Joe Mulligan 1:11:54 1994 Mary Hynes 1:20:17 1987
33 Fernando Braz 1:09:45 1994 Sophie Merrill 1:26:24 1984
34 Eric Beauchesne 1:10:34 2004 Debra Barry 1:27:19 1999
35 Jim Murphy 1:09:08 1985 Sue Lachance 1:22:45 1995
36 Thomas Murdock III 1:11:05 1999 Virginia Nichols 1:24:53 1996
37 Wayne Jacob 1:10:45 1992 Virginia Nichols 1:27:04 1997
38 Ray Currier 1:10:25 1983 Sue Lachance 1:24:48 1998
39 Thomas Carroll 1:11:33 1989 Sue Lachance 1:26:40 1999
40 Keiron Tumbleton 1:12:29 2006 Sue Lachance 1:25:15 2000
41 Thomas Carroll 1:11:40 1991 Sue Lachance 1:22:25 2001
42 Robert Sholl 1:13:25 1989 Margot R'-Oman 1:26:17 1989
43 James Morriseau 1:16:56 1996 Colleen Barbarita 1:35:25 2004
44 Dave Parsel 1:10:38 1999 Peg Donovan 1:26:01 1998
45 Dave Parsel 1:16:30 2000 Jacqueline Shakar 1:28:35 2004
46 Dave Parsel 1:15:51 2001 Sidney Letendre 1:30:22 2000
47 Dave Parsel 1:14:11 2002 Pam Hall 1:35:36 2000
48 Dave Parsel 1:15:44 2003 Carole Hackert 1:35:13 1990
49 Dave Parsel 1:15:50 2004 Carrie Parsi 1:36:49 1988
50 Doug MacGregor 1:15:27 1989 Carrie Parsi 1:34:22 1989
51 Bill Foulk 1:15:25 1984 Wendy Burbank 1:37:39 2003
52 Eddie Fromm 1:21:21 1990 Heidy McGaffigan 1:33:16 1997
53 Bill Springer 1:21:57 1992 Carrie Parsi 1:37:01 1992
54 Wayne Alukonis 1:24:31 2003 Carrie Parsi 1:34:17 1993
55 Eddie Fromm 1:22:05 1993 Carrie Parsi 1:36:06 1994
56 Bill Springer 1:24:47 1995 Faye Lowery 1:47:25 1999
57 Tony Sapienza 1:21:13 1986 Carrie Parsi 1:34:37 1996
58 Eddie Fromm 1:22:10 1996 Carrie Parsi 1:35:18 1997
59 Eddie Fromm 1:24:17 1997 Carrie Parsi 1:43:44 1998
60 Eddie Fromm 1:26:04 1998 Wendy Burbank 1:41:54 2002
61 Joe Fernandez 1:20:54 1989 Wendy Burbank 1:48:15 2003
62 Joe Fernandez 1:22:25 1990 Wendy Burbank 1:46:14 2004
63 Bill Spencer 1:32:42 1999 Dorothy Bergman 2:01:31 1994
64 Jack Kick 1:30:41 1996 Dorothy Bergman 1:55:31 1995
65 Eddie Fromm 1:30:38 2003 Carrie Parsi 1:49:51 2004
66 Ray Pickell 1:38:46 1997 Carrie Parsi 1:51:22 2005
67 Jack Kick 1:33:07 1999 Carrie Parsi 1:53:51 2006
68 Jack Kick 1:35:38 2000 Imme Dyson 1:54:07 2005
69 Carlton Mendell 1:36:48 1991 Imme Dyson 1:53:50 2006
70 Jack Kick 1:41:20 2002 Imme Dyson 1:57:11 2007
71 Carlton Mendell 1:49:03 1993 Barbara Robinson 1:56:50 2004
72 Carlton Mendell 1:46:54 1994
73 Carlton Mendell 1:51:43 1995
74 Carlton Mendell 1:49:31 1996
75 Robert Hall 1:55:32 2004
76 Robert Halll 2:01:11 2005
77 Carlton Mendell 2:09:00 1999
78 Carlton Mendell 2:11:34 2000
79 Carlton Mendell 2:15:19 2001
80 Carlton Mendell 2:30:13 2002
81 Carlton Mendell 2:36:43 2003
82 Carlton Mendell 2:47:04 2004
83 Carlton Mendell 3:00:56 2005
Thursday, December 30, 2010 9:48:11 AM by RN to BSN degree
Seems like a great event! Congrats on the marathon :)
- Jessica Sparco Masters of Applied Psychology
Wednesday, April 18, 2012 3:33:38 AM by Atakan
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Wednesday, April 18, 2012 9:36:49 PM by mbkxasbdaht