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March 16. 2013 2:23AM

Andy Schachat's On the Run: Shamrock Shuffle runners ready to party


 

On Saturday, thousands of runners and walkers will take part in the Shamrock Shuffle road race in Manchester. In only its third year, the Shamrock Shuffle, organized by Millennium Running, has become one of New Hampshire's largest road races and I believe there is one word to describe its popularity: party.

After the race Manchester will hold its annual St. Patrick's Day parade while runners and walkers hang out at any one of a number of Queen City watering holes. Tying a road race in with a big post-race party has been a growing trend in New Hampshire road races. That's why I have decided this week to take a look at my favorite "party'' road races in the Granite State.

MILLENNIUM RUNNING RACES: In addition to the Shamrock Shuffle, Millennium Running puts on other races that are followed by big parties. Similar to the Shamrock Shuffle, the Santa Claus Shuffle, held in Manchester in early December, will precede a parade while participants head to various bars around the city.

My personal favorite on the Millennium Running schedule is the Ribfest Five Miler. Granted, last year the weather was ideal when this race made its debut, but the atmosphere had party written all over it, with a capital P. The race takes place in Merrimack, on the grounds of the Anheuser-Busch plant, and is followed by the annual Ribfest. Ribs, beer, live music, on Father's Day ... can't beat it.

LOCO SPORTS RACES: Let's start with the Will Run For Beer Series. The title says it all. Run a few miles and then enjoy an adult beverage. However, there is more than the liquid refreshments to these races. Last week one of the WRFB races was followed by a karaoke contest. Other races in the series will have live music.

In addition to the WRFB series LOCO Sports has its signature event in the fall, the Smuttynose Rockfest Marathon/Half Marathon. Close to 4,000 runners and walkers took part in this event in 2012 and were treated to a great post-race party complete with live music and other refreshments.

RUNNERS ALLEY-RED HOOK 5K: "This race is going to be a classic." I will never forget those words, told to me by a runner when the race made its debut in 1998. Held on Memorial Day weekend, the race took only two years to break the 1,000 finishers barrier. Now the race sells out at 2,000 entries. Why? Holding a race at a brewery in Portsmouth has had a lot to do with it. The live band adds to the atmosphere.

ROCK N RACE 5K: Not all party races have to serve beer. The Rock N Race 5K, held in May in Concord, is one of the state's largest races and has, for years, served the best post-race food of any New Hampshire race. If there aren't at least five local restaurants that show up and serve food then something appears wrong. Anyone who goes home hungry has only him or herself to blame. Put it this way. The race starts at six in the evening. I have seen staff, who work long after most participants have gone home, helping themselves to chicken, burgers, and salad, two hours later. There is also live music to entertain folks.

STONYFIELD EARTH DAY 5K: This will be the third year of the race and it is going to give Rock N Race a run for its money for best post-race food. This Londonderry event kicks off an Earth Day festival at the Stonyfield headquarters and offers a wide variety of nourishment along with a live band.

MOUNT WASHINGTON ROAD RACE: This is the most unique party atmosphere of any New Hampshire race. It is not just the formal party that creates all the fun, it is the running clubs that hold their own individual parties. Many New England running clubs gather at this race and after the race set up tents for their members. Some of the clubs bring grills to cook burgers and dogs while other bring the chips, salsa, and other various items. It has the look of a tailgate party before a Patriot game.

BIG LAKE HALF MARATHON: Finishing a 13.1 mile run at Alton Bay, with Lake Winnipesaukee as a backdrop, creates one of the most scenic spots for a post-race party. Live music and plenty of refreshments, while runners take a dip into the lake to cool off, make for a wonderful day.

MAINE TRIATHLONS: Consider this advice for local triathletes when considering your 2013 schedule. There are a couple of triathlons across the border in Maine that are a blast. In nearby South Berwick, just minutes from the New Hampshire border, is the Pumpkinman Triathlon, a two-day event. The sprint race will take place on the Saturday following Labor Day and the half iron will be a day later. If you are up for it, go for the half iron. After the race you will be treated to a full course turkey dinner.

Prefer lobster? Then a week after Pumpkinman, head to Freeport, for the Lobsterman Triathlon, an olympic distance race. A full lobster bake dinner is served afterwards.
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RUNNING SHORTS: A unique experience last week in the Will Run For Beer Series. At the first ever Smuttynose Palooza 5K in Salisbury, Mass., the race finished only a few yards from the ocean and large waves created some havoc at the finish. That did not stop Dan Vassallo and Katrina Gravel, both from Peabody, Mass., from winning. ... Two other Massachusetts runners, Nate Jenkins of North Andover and Heather Maloney of Haverhill, won the St Paddy's Five Miler on March 10. ... Madison's Jim Johnson capped off a great snowshoe season with a win at the Granite State Snowshoe championship on March 9. ... Two weeks ago, when I wrote about the Half at the Hampton's Half Marathon being canceled, I stated that the race organizers, LOCO Sports, offered a $15 discount for an upcoming race. It turns out they did more, offering discounts to a number of other races. When the discounts were added up they totaled close to $100.


Andy Schachat's column appears every other week in the New Hampshire Sunday News. Email him at schachat44@gmail.com.


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