(Page 1 of 3 Interval pages in the current issue of NER)

Vintage World XC Stamp
Thanks to NER loyalist Bill Dixon for passing on the image of a commemorative stamp celebrating the 7th IAAF World Cross Country Championships held on March 25, 1979 in Limerick, Ireland.

Ireland’s John Treacy won the 1979 race and led the host country to the silver medal behind England and ahead of the Soviet Union. Also on the silver medal team was Mick O’Shea, now sipping Guinness and perusing NER in Warwick, RI. Taking silver in the Junior race that year was Providence College man Stevie Binns (ENG).

The women’s race was won by Norway’s legendary Grete Waitz but the US‰ÛÓled by Ellison Goodall in 3rd and Jan Merrill (7th and currently running in the Senior division in Waterbury, CT), scored a meet low 29 points to capture the gold. Other US team scorers included Julie Shea (8th) and Margaret Groos (11th).

“New England’s Finest” Part Deux
Following the inaugural success of the New England’s Finest program at the 2008 ING Hartford Marathon/Half Marathon, race director Beth Shluger is once again helping NER lay out the red carpet for the 2009 extravaganza. Invites will be going out to athlete’s from last year’s program (Open runners up through 70+) in late May, along with many additions in the following weeks.

New England athletes in the program have their entry fee waived, receive two nights accommodation, a mileage refund, special tech jacket and hat, the opportunity to invite a spouse or special guest, access to the Invited Athlete Hospitality Suite in the host hotel, access to the Elite Athlete Tent at race start/finish (massage, refreshments, facilities), special assistance from the Elite Athlete committee, including fluid placement on course, pre-race course review and escort to the race start, a rave write-up in NER, plus eligibility for bonus money that, in 2008, ran through the top five places in the marathon and top three places in the half marathon.

Former Providence College star Kim Smith leads the women’s race at the World XC Championships in Amman, Jordan (See Running Around the World). Photo by Mike Scott

The New England’s Finest bonus money corresponds to the finishing place of program participants: for example, in 2008 men’s marathon winner Pat Moulton, of Providence, RI received $3,000 for the overall win and an additional $3,000 in corresponding first-place bonus $. On the women’s side, fourth place finisher Diona Fulton of Somerville, MA won $750 and the fourth-place NEF bonus of $500.

While we freely admit to culling most invited athletes from the NER database, anyone who’s lived in the New England area for at least six months is free to apply through the marathon’s website at There will also be updates on the NER website and in the mag. The 2009 ING Hartford Marathon/Half Marathon will be held on October 10.

There’s A New Relay in Town
…And its name is Ragnar. Actually, there are eight other relays in the national series, but come Sept. 11-12 New England will have its first entry. In designing its courses, Ragnar looks for picturesque routes that have active populations. One of Ragnar’s founders, Dan Hill, lived in New Haven, CT and thus the jumping off point for the 180-mile 24-hour odyssey is Lighthouse Point Park in East Haven, CT.

The end location will be at an as yet to be determined location in Cambridge, MA but will feature Ragnar’s trademark “After Party” with live music, food, beer and beverages.

Live music is planned along the course, along with tech shirts for all participants, awards for division winners and best team name and best decorated van along with T-shirts for all volunteers and medals for all finishers.

Given that Yale is in New Haven and Harvard is in Cambridge, event organizers are looking to build an Ivy League competition within the race. Ragnar will be looking to set up programs with fraternities and sororities to raise funds for its charity: Operation Kids.

NER Membership has its privileges: If you’re reading this then you’re most likely an NER subscriber. If you can put together a team of other NER loyalists (read: subscribers), then forward their names along with a 2-3 paragraph blurb on why you want to participate in the Ragnar Relay to NER, PO Box 205, Weymouth, MA 02190. The team NER picks to sponsor will bypass the $1,020 team registration fee. Deadline is July 10. The winning team captain will be notified and the winning team announced in our bi-weekly newsletter on July 15 and on our website.

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