I’ve found a reason to write about my 2011 Gansett Marathon. This Narragansett RI race has announced a move of their marathon from April to October 26, 2013.
Now, I know it’s August and most marathoners will have targeted their Fall marathon and begun training based on the date, terrain, climate, etc. If you have delayed making that final decision and have a fairly competitive finish time (generally five minutes faster than Boston standards), take a look at Gansett.
What does Gansett offer qualified runners? Here is what it offered me:
A fast field of runners: I ran Boston for five years and Gansett appealed to me with its slightly more demanding qualifying time, a small race with a fast field. Well, it was that and more. Looking through the entrants and qualifying races and times, I saw my qualifying time was the slowest among the registrants. Gulp. The field was a bit intimidating, but I was up for the challenge.
Minimal morning commute: Get your hotel reservation in early and you can see the start line from your room. With a Start/Finish near the ocean in Narragansett, we stayed at the Village Inn with a 2-minute walk to the start. The Village Inn is a friendly hotel and convenient at the finish as well since race awards, post-race food etc. are held there.
Scenic course: Much of this course is right along the ocean. This can mean strong winds as it did in the Spring of 2011. My experience with training runs against the wind tunnel known as the Susquehanna River were perfect preparation for this race day.
There are also beautiful seaside homes, a couple of miles through a wooded area, a brief portion of working harbor facilities and also a short stint near a busy shopping area. There is opportunity for wildlife spottings. We saw deer, wild turkey and a number of shore birds while driving some portions of the course pre-race day).
Course Monitors who know their stuff: The Narragansett Running Association in general exudes no frills but friendly runners and knowledgeable volunteers. As I ran by the the course monitor just past Mile 15, he shouted to me “relax your shoulders.” I past the same point, same monitor at Mile 25. He thankfully wasn’t shouting the typical ‘you’re almost there’ but instead prompted several runners as we went by: “I know you’re hurting but you can hold your pace. Just hold on.” OK, if I had found this guy at the finish I would have hugged him and then asked if he had any client openings on his coaching schedule.
Quality shirts and age-group awards: I’m still wearing the shirt on a regular basis. Thankfully, Gansett offered women’s sizing. The finisher patch is in use as well, sewn over a frayed knee on my work jeans. As it turned out, I had a good day finishing first place in AG 60-64 (4:15 finish), and one of the most beautiful awards I have received at a race.
While I give away a number of awards and arrange to have others recycled, this glass ship stays on my bookshelf.
I expect that shirt styles and awards vary each year, but I have no doubt they will continue to be quality selections.
Post-Race Party: There is an opportunity to talk with other runners and raise a glass to our good fortune to find this marathon. I was motivated enough that walking up a flight of stairs to Simon’s Lounge on my post-marathon legs was a mere inconvenience.
Ocean states have great food: Along with the wonderful seafood chowder you would expect along the New England coast, there are fine dining choices in Naragansett to be enjoyed. My favorite meal, however, was breakfast at the Bluebird Cafe in Wakefield RI. Their entire menu has a bit of a southwestern flare and is completely from scratch. With four people in our party, we each ordered something different and all was delicious. Three years later, I remember my choice: a build-your-own omelet with yellow grits on the side. I could taste the freshness and quality. A fantastic food finale to a great Gansett Marathon weekend in Rhode Island.
Saturday Race Day: Saturday destination races are hard to find. The advantage is a day to recuperate, sightsee or have a more relaxing travel day after a good night’s sleep.
If any of this suits your taste and qualifying time, check out their Facebook page for updates, give it a shot and report back.