Andy Schachat's On the Run: NHMS: One track, two great sports
In the past few days, two of my favorite worlds came together at New Hampshire Motor Speedway: the world of running and the world of auto racing.
This is another big weekend of NASCAR racing at the Loudon track. Adding to that excitement was Thursday night's Speedway 5K, which finished with a lap around the Magic Mile.
As I stood at the finish line of Thursday's footrace and looked forward to today's Sylvania 300 Sprint Cup race, I found myself comparing the two sports.
-- Sprint Cup drivers race at speeds around 150 mph.The top 5K speed for a New Hampshire runner is about 12 mph, or five minutes per mile.
-- It typically takes between 2 1/2 and three hours to complete a Sprint Cup race a NHMS.
Two and a half hours is approximately the time it takes for the fastest New Hampshire runners to complete a marathon (26.2 miles).
-- Forty-three is the maximum number of drivers for a Sprint Cup race. Engine failures and crashes usually limit the number of finishers to between 35 and 40.
New Hampshire's larges road race, the Cigna/Elliot Corporate 5K, this year had more than 6,000 entrants, with about 600 no-shows and more than 5,400 finishers. Every runner and walker who started the race finished.
-- Close to 100,000 NASCAR fans will fill the stands this weekend at NHMS.
The stands were empty for the Speedway 5K. There were, however, a few dozen spectators at the finish line.
-- If you don't show up four hours before the Sprint Cup race at NHMS, you will have a hard time finding a place to park.
For the Speedway 5K, runners were able to show up 15 minutes before the race, park and register.
-- During a Sprint Cup race, cars typically have to come to a complete stop six or seven times for fuel and new tires.
There was one water stop at the Speedway 5K, the runners never stopped, and no one changed running shoes.
-- If debris appears on the track during a Sprint Cup race, drivers slow in response to a yellow flag, and if it rains, the race stops. New Hampshire runners don't give a second thought to debris, unpaved roads or pot holes, and any of them who do more than a couple of races a year probably have run one in the rain.
-- The total prize purse for this weekend's Sprint Cup race is more than $5 million. The winner will earn more than $200,000, and the last-place finisher will take home $50,000.
The top prize money at a New Hampshire road race is less than $1,000, and 99 percent of Granite State runners will never earn a dime of prize money.
-- The top NASCAR drivers earn about $10-15 million dollars a year. No one in New Hampshire makes a living from running road races.
-- It costs about $20 million to operate a Sprint Cup team through a 36-race schedule.
A New Hampshire runner can participate in 36 events for less than $1,000. That includes the cost of entry fees, running shoes and a bottle of Gatorade.
-- NASCAR fans can only dream about being behind the wheel for a Sprint Cup race.
Average runners can sign up for their sport's biggest races and compete in most of the same events as the fastest distance runners in the world.
-- NASCAR fans, including me, think Sprint Cup racing is one of the greatest spectator sports around.
Running road races is the greatest participatory sport in the world.
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RUNNING SHORTS: Tip of the hat to Millennium Running, organizer of the Halfway To St. Patrick's Day 5K in Manchester. The Sept. 15 race had more than 1,700 finishers, becoming the newest addition to the list of New Hampshire races with 1,000 or more participants ... Based on event listings at coolrunning.com and millenniumrunning.com, there were 10 races in New Hampshire last weekend. At two of the races (the WOW Fest 5K in Laconia and the Peter Michael Abbott 5K in Peterborough), a woman was the top overall finisher. At five other races, a woman finished among the top three overall ... Looking ahead to next week: The Granite State on Sunday hosts one of its few marathons, the Clarence Demar, which runs form Gilsum to Keene. The following weekend, two more marathons take place in the state, the New Hampshire Marathon in Bristol on Oct. 5, and the Smuttynose Rockfest in Hampton on Oct. 6.
"Andy on the Run" is published every other week in the New Hampshire Sunday News. Email Andy Schachat at firstname.lastname@example.org.