Andy Schachat On The Run: What's in store for the rest of 2013
Now that we're a few weeks into 2013, it's time to look ahead at what should be the top stories of 2013 on the New Hampshire road race/triathlon scene.
-- Boston weather: In 2012, hundreds of Granite State runners took part in one of the most difficult Boston Marathons ever. High temps and humidity made for a very rough day for runners. In the final days leading up to the 2013 Boston Marathon, runners will be checking websites, newspapers, TV stations and radio reports to see what Mother Nature will bring to this year's event.
-- Regional grand prix: For decades, USA Track and Field-New England has conducted an annual seven-race series known as the Grand Prix. Because most USATF-NE folks live in Massachusetts, most of the races have been held in the Bay State. Some years, the series has included a New Hamsphire race. This year, it will include not one but two Granite State events, the Hollis Fast 5K in June and the Manchester City Marathon in November.
Being part of the series means both races will see a jump in entries. Based on history, a 5K can see as many as 500 new runners when it becomes part of the New England series, while a marathon's bump typically is around 200-300.
Because the series usually brings many of New England's fastest runners to a race, the Hollis Fast 5K could get interesting. The Hollis race is a point-to-point 5K that Running Times magazine called one of the fastest in the country. The course is so fast, it's too fast for USATF-certified records. On the other hand, the fastest 5K ever run in the Granite State was a 13-minute 47-second performance by Nate Jenkins of North Andover, Mass., in 2007. That mark could be threatened.
. State grand prix: A similar series takes place entirely in the Granite State, matching New Hampshire clubs against each other under the umbrella of the Road Runners Club of America.
In 2013, the series will consist of the Shamrock Shuffle (March 16, Lebanon), Red's Race For A Better Community (April 21, Dover), Bedford Rotary Memorial Races 12K (May 18, Bedford May 18), Pack Monandnock 10 Miler (June 2, Wilton), Sandown Old Home Days 5-Miler (August 10, Sandown) St. Charles Children's Home 5K (Sept. 2, Portsmouth) and Granite State 10 Miler (Oct. 20, Concord).
-- Triathlon changes: The World Triathlon Corporation decided to discontinue its Mooseman event, a big tri that in the past took place the first weekend of June. As soon as WTC made that decision, a couple of triathlon organizers moved in, with the Newfound Lake Triathlon replacing Mooseman. It will be business almost as usual, with the same Olympic and half-iron distances as Mooseman, but also with a new sprint-distance race. The venue will remain the same - Wellington State Park in Bristol - with the races taking place June 1 and 2.
Sadly, there's also a big loss to the New Hampshire triathlon world. Organizers of the Black Fly Triathlon Festival decided not to go ahead with an event this year. The original owners, Endorfun Sports, attempted to pass on ownership to another group but the plans fell through.
A new 70.3-mile race is on the schedule, however. The White Mountains Triathlon is scheduled for June 16.
-- How big will they be?
There were some astonishing numbers at New Hampshire races in 2012. On the Seacoast, the Smuttynose Rockfest Marathon/Half Marathon set New Hampshire records for their distances. More than 3,000 finished the half, with another 800 completing the marathon.
Meanwhile, in Manchester, Millennium Running produced three races with more than 2,000 finishers, each doubling in size from the previous year.
How large will these races become? The assumption is they aren't going to get smaller, but there are limits to how much they can grow.
The state's largest race, the Cigna/Elliot Corporate 5K in Manchester, could serve as a model for how large a New Hampshire race gets. For more than 10 years, the Cigna/Elliot race has remained in the 5,000-6000 range. Is that the max for the Granite State? In 2013 that answer should start to come into focus.
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RUNNING SHORTS: The Granite State Snowshoe Series got under way on Jan. 12 with the Beaver Brook race. Madison's Jim Johnson was the winner, with a time of 22:35 over the 5K course. Carolyn Stocker of Westfield, Mass., was the top woman, in 26:40, 11 seconds ahead of Northwood's Kristina Folcik ... Next big race on the New Hampshire circuit: the Boston Prep 16-Miler in Derry on Jan. 27 ... After that comes the brand-new, just announced Copper Door Snowflake Shuffle, introduced last week after a Facebook query about whether friends of Millennium Running would like to see the company manage a February race. A 3-miler, the Snowflake Shuffle will take place Feb. 10 in Bedford ... Finally, here's something you probably won't see in any ESPN reports about new Philadelphia Eagles coach Chip Kelly, a former Manchester Central High and University of New Hampshire athlete and coach: His brother Keith was one of New Hampshire's top road racers in the 1990s. In 1997, Keith was the top Granite Stater in the Boston Marathon, finishing in 2:35:05.
Andy Schachat's column appears every other week in the New Hampshire Sunday News. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.