Looking for an Adventure Run – Check Out the Martha’s Vineyard 20-Miler

Photo: Running by the “Gingerbread” Houses at 5-miles, photo by FitzFoto/NERunner

(Ed. Note: Since it’s inception in 1998, NER has missed a grand total of two MV 20s, one because of a wedding and I can’t recall the other reason, but I do know these were regrettable conflicts.

There’s everything to like here: the ferry ride across Vineyard Sound, the beautiful course by the ocean, past farms and long the state park bike paths, the post-race repast at the Off Shore Ale House and elsewhere. Not to mention yuou can actuially park your car downtown.

It used to be a solo 20-mile jaunt until 2014 when a Relay was added and yours truly ran the first 10-mile leg before handing off to the author below (NY’s Vince Juliano) who finished during snowfall.) Check our the race website

Vince Juliano Sez:

Well, a small group of upstate NY runners will once again hope to make the trip to Martha’s Vineyard for the classic 20 mile road race and accompanying 2 person relay….evenly split at 10 miles each on February 16.

The term classic is thrown about quite loosely by race organizers, but for me a race needs to be 20 years old to be called a classic. The MV 20 began in 1998 and it has been run 20 years…..since there was a rare cancellation in 2015, after a series of snow storms pummeled the Boston area and Cape Cod……leaving the bike paths impassible and few good options to hold the event. In two other years it was intentionally shortened due to weather, once to 18 miles and once to 15.4 miles due to high winds and snow drifts.

Photo: On the bikepath at 10.5 miles right past the Morning Glory Farm in Edgartown, photo by FitzFoto

Over the years the 20 mile race has attracted hard core veterans who planned to run the Boston Marathon or other early spring marathons like Virginia Beach.

Emily and I first attended the race in 2007 when Emily was 39. We have returned most years since, except in 2015 when it was canceled and perhaps one other year. I always brought my car, and drove the course at strategic points to watch the progress of the runners, since I was not really trained to run 20 miles.

I suggested to race organizers to add a two person relay after twice running the first 10 miles of the course prior to 2014, and to my surprise they took me up on the suggestion and the relay began in 2014. This will be my 5th relay attempt officially in 2019, and I now prefer the second 10 mile leg.

Weather can be anything in February in the Northeast, but in general, Martha’s Vineyard is 5 to 10 degrees warmer than the upstate capital region, but it is more likely to be windy due to the proximity to the ocean and certain miles that are exposed to the weather.

Course records below

Photo: Pat Moulton en route to the men’s record in 2010, photo by FitzFoto

Men: Women:

2010 Pat Moulton 1:48:34 2000 Sarah Nixon 2:04:22

Next Best:
2002 Jeff Day 1:49:58 2001 Sarah Nixon 2:06:48

Masters Course Records
2010 Joe O’Leary 1:59:10 2012 Emily Bryans (43) 2:12:52

The relay history is short as it started in 2014, the race was canceled in 2015, and shortened in 2016. So with only 3 official relay years (2 legs of 10 miles) the best performances are;

2017 1:57:00
2014 1:57:02

The course is certified as accurate and every mile has a large wooden mile marker so you can time your progress. The race ends at a school, where refreshments and awards are held. The refreshments are good….hot chowder, soups, yogurt, bagels and homemade cookies.

No cash prizes, just medals…..but this classic New England Race does draw serious runners who train all winter looking for big races in the spring, but also runners who like to have fun post race at the Offshore Tavern.

This race should be on every distance runners bucket list.

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