Still a Runner

A Blog by Mary Lou Harris

Archive for Gansett Marathon

The Case of the Disappearing Road Races

As I look out my window at another mid-February snow, I’m wondering what plants will survive the ice storms and return anew in the Spring.  Was this the last year to enjoy some percentage of them that will now simply become memories?

The Colon Cancer Prevision 5K will not be returning in 2014 - my first 2013 race after 3 months off from injury

A favorite, the  Colon Cancer Prevention 5K will not be returning in 2014

I wonder the same about some of my favorite road races, which leads me to muse. Do road races have a timed-out life expectancy? What happens that well organized races with strong race directors and a loyal following disappear from the current year’s race listings? Is there anything that runners can do to keep their favorites alive?

This year, at least two of my favorite local 5K’s drawing 400 – 600 runners, a good number for our small city area, will not be returning to the race list.

The same is true of two marathons where winter brings news that their doors have closed.

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Mile 1 of the former Gansett Marathon

January 24th, the Gansett Marathon race director announced the dreaded news on Facebook. There would not be a 2014 race.  I wrote a post earlier about this wonderful marathon located in Narragansett, Rhode Island. This was a niche race, no fundraising entries, and requiring previous marathon times 5 minutes over the required Boston Marathon times.

I loved this marathon for the fresh sea air, wildlife spottings and beautiful neighborhoods with only a small section through a business/industrial area. Gansett had a loyal following, but apparently not large enough in number meeting the challenge of the required entry times. 

Another winter announcement came from the Mother Road Marathon. An email came to my inbox alerting me to its demise. The MRM website now reads:

We regret to inform you that the Mother Road Marathon has been cancelled indefinitely. The decision was made by the Joplin City Council due to registration declining consistently since the inaugural year. The City of Joplin is the primary funding source for MRM. We have truly enjoyed our runners over the past four years and we thank you for supporting our race.

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Galena KS on the route of the former MRM and the original Route 66.

With both Boston and New York on my race list for 2014, I’m thinking my 2015 plans will include a registration and support of some out-of-the-way marathons with a local flare. There are so many beautiful and interesting corners of this country and the world, I want to explore them on foot, and preferably on the run.

I’m thankful I had the opportunity to experience the Mother Road and Gansett Marathons before their cycles of life ended.

IMG_1538I wonder how many other local races are quietly closing their doors and mysteriously disappearing from the upcoming race lists. I’m hoping my shrubbery and all of our remaining favorite races will survive the ravages of winter and time. If you have favorite races that have recently disappeared, let’s hear about them.

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Gansett Makes a Marathon Move To Fall 2013

I’ve found a reason to write about my 2011 Gansett Marathon. This Narragansett RI race Towers-612x372has 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, slide-03-1we 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.

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Back of shirt – same logo on finisher patch

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.

Age Group Award 2011 Gansett Marathon

Age Group Award 2011 Gansett Marathon

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.

Morning walk post-marathon along an angry ocean

Stillarunner on a misty morning post-marathon  walk along the seawall

If any of this suits your taste and qualifying time, check out their Facebook page for updates, give it a shot and report back.