Run New England Strong
by Molly Huddle
I remember what started me running. It wasn’t the gym class mile or the
chance to compete with the boys at a school field day, but the festival
atmosphere of our town’s local summer race. My dad and I would ‘race’ down a
heat-rippled Water Street in the last mile of the Elmira-thon, with my grandpa
not far behind and my mom and sister yelling from the sidewalk; mom with camera
and Megan with a mouth full of bagel trying to moonwalk to Û¢Beat it’ blaring
from the finish line speakers.
Today the all-inclusive aspect of these parties-in-motion still makes
them my favorite racing venue. I have run a few more road races since the
Elmira-thon, and as the weather gets nicer I’m reminded of some of my
favorites, and some that I still have on my to-do list. In light of the
horrific events of the Boston Marathon I have noticed among the running
community a determination to keep running, and for some that means running
right on into next year’s Boston Marathon in a symbolic gesture of returning to
the event stronger in will and number than before.
So, for those wanting to get Boston Strong, here are some historic and
unique races in New England to use as stepping stones to the marathon or to
race as an un-glycogen-depleted goal unto themselves.
TD Beach to Beacon 10K (Aug. 3)
When speaking of New England greats, you must mention Joan Samuelson,
and this is her race. This 10K is another one on my bucket list. The nice thing
about racing in New England is you pass a lot of beautiful coastline and this
is no exception as the race winds through Cape Elizabeth, Maine.
NB Falmouth Road Race (Aug. 11)
This race, inspired in part by Frank Shorter’s Olympic Gold, is on my
to-do list. I have hung out at the Û¢appetizer’ to this 7-miler on the Cape
while the elite men and women milers put on an inspiring show at the intimate,
one event track meet at the local high school track the night before the big
day. The race is a popular one, with over 11,000 people scrambling to run 11
kilometers, so a lottery system is used. After the gun sounds, runners embark
into the August heat via some early hills, pass by scenic stretches of sun-radiating
beach sand lining Martha’s Vineyard Sound, and finish at Falmouth Heights
Photo: Two New England
elites who’ve preceded Molly at FalmouthÛÓNH native Russ Brown (L) and Maine’s
Ben True (NER’s May/June ’13 cover subject). Photo by Clay Shaw/Sports 35
New Haven 20K (Sept. 2)
While New Haven might first call to mind bright young Yale-ies forging
their ways as future leaders of America, it also houses a traditional Labor Day
20K. I fantasize about one day
setting a PR on this relatively flat, fast course by heeding my coaches advice
of, “Just run your 10K pace and keep going.” Like the Tufts 10K and CVS 5K,
this race has long been known as a US road championship.
Providence CVS Caremark 5K (Sept. 22)
This is the local 5K for me as it starts and finishes at the RI State
House, so I am biased here but I love this distance anyway because it can be a
great unifier of beginners and veterans. Almost anyone can finish 3 miles; for
example, my grandpa essentially created the 85-89 age group here. The 2010 CVS
5K was the last time I’ve raced with the family and it was a cool memory to
compete hard with some of the best runners in the country and turn around and
watch your 64 year-old dad and 87 year-old grandpa finish the same race (and
all complain about the same parts of the course afterward: “You know that hill?
And how about that one turn?!”). The race is accommodating for kids too, with
its high school 3000m competition and shorter dashes for the youngest ones.
Photo: Seen here racing
on her hometown streets in Providence, RI, American 5000m record holder
(14:44.76) Molly Huddle counts three consecutive Tufts 10K (2008-2010) and two
CVS 5K (2010-2012) titles among her seven US road championships.
Photo by Myles Dumas
Tufts 10K (Oct. 14)
As Moby would say, this is a jam for the ladies. This all-women’s
Columbus Day 10K is flat and fast and starts and finishes around the Boston
Common Parade Grounds. It doubles back on itself a few times, so you can cheer
on friends or glare at arch nemeses in front or behind you. I have dual best
memories from this race: Winning my first US championship here in 2008 and a
celebrity sighting of Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner in front of Au Bon Pain
Manchester Road Race (Nov. 28)
The warm weather is usually over at this point of the year in
Connecticut, but it’s still a race not to be missed as one of the most well
known and historic Thanksgiving Day turkey trots in the country (and as a
runner once pointed out to the delight of the local pre-race pasta party
goers… “and therefore, in the wooorld!”). The 4.75-mile race starts
innocently for the first half mile, followed by a mile up a steep hill,
followed by two plus miles careening downhill and then a longish straightaway
to the finish. Interesting tidbit: although the race is celebrating an American
holiday, they usually save some love for the Irish with first Irish-runner
There is plenty of historic and exciting racing to do in New England
before next Patriot’s Day. I hope you’re inspired to get out there and honor
the strength of the local running community, your health and your commitment to
being Boston Strong and New England Tough.
Photo: A poster
celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Manchester Road Race.