Nothing spells dedication to a sport like keeping up with off season news. Football fans have the NFL Network and baseball fans have the Hot Stove League. Followers of the New Hampshire road race scene? Sorry, but I am all you have. Even though there have been a few races in the Granite State these past few weeks, it feels like the off season and this week I will catch you up with our sport's off season news. Yes, some of the news has to do with some races that recently took place, so give me some poetic license.
THE END OF AN ERA: The North Medford Club, a Massachusetts based running club, has announced the end of its Granite State event, the Lake Winnipesaukee Relay. In a recent email a NMC member wrote: "We've lost several key volunteers that we can't replace, so the decision has been made that the relay can no longer be put on. It was not a snap decision. We are losing the race director, the race coordinator, the volunteer coordinator (the biggest headache and most underrated of jobs), and our jack of all trades that is everywhere on race day, as well as a couple of other unheralded workers. These jobs need to be filled within NMC."
The Lake Winni Relay can trace its roots a relay that NMC started in Massachusetts, on Cape Cod, in 1974. In the late 1980s, the club moved the relay to New Hampshire and decided to run the event around our biggest lake, making it a 65.1-mile event. Teams were made up of eight runners, the start and finish were at FunSpot at Weirs Beach and legs varied from four to 11 miles. At its peak the race drew some of the top runners, and running clubs, in New England, and had well over 100 teams. Over the past 10 years the numbers declined, due in part to the growth of another New Hampshire relay, the Reach The Beach relay. Despite the dwindling numbers the show continued to go on and was a "must do" for a number of runners who returned year after year. For some, this will be an event that will be missed.
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A NEW RACE SERIES: Over the past few years the number of races taking place in Dover has grown. As result of this growth, 11 Garrison City races have formed the Dover Race Series. Just like other race series participants will be awarded a souvenir jacket for completing a pre-determined amount of races. In this case, completing seven races will earn someone a jacket.
The 11 races run the gamut of longevity. The oldest race in the series is the Red's Race For A Better Community (formerly the Red's Shoe Barn race) which is more than 30 years old. On the other end of the spectrum will be a new race in March and a new race on Thanksgiving Day.
For more information go to www.doverraceseries.com.
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HALL OF FAME UPDATE: On Nov. 3, 2013, in this column I told you of a pledge I was making when I wrote: "By this time next year there will be a New Hampshire Road Race Hall of Fame". I am happy to announce significant progress towards that goal. An organizing committee has been set up and those names have been made public on a Facebook page. The committee will have the responsibility of voting on the first inductees. The organizing committee brings with it extensive knowledge of the history of the New Hampshire road race scene. Members include: Vin Sylvia, New Hampshire Union Leader deputy managing editor for sports and features, Bill Spencer, New Hampshire road race record keeper, Dave Camire, owner of Yankee Timing and long-time race organizer, Bob Teschek, owner of the Granite State Race Services timing company and long-time race organizer, two UNH track and field/cross country coaches, Jim Boulanger and Robert Hopler, and yours truly.
The next step will be to announce that nominations are open to the public and that anyone can nominate anyone. Once nominations close the committee will vote on the nominees. Plans are also underway to hold a ceremony but those details are far from being ready for public consumption. In the meantime go to the Facebook page New Hampshire Road Race Hall of Fame, like it, and you will stay updated on the Hall's latest news.
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HONORS FOR A TRIATHLON: The Pumpkinman Triathlon Festival is just across the New Hampshire border, in South Berwick, Maine, so it's OK to count it as one of our own. Besides many Granite State athletes, and one Granite State announcer, take part in the two day sprint/half iron event so we can all take pride in recent honors bestowed on Pumpkinman. At the Triathlon Business International ACTIVE Network Awards Celebration, Pumpkinman was named The Best Race for Beginners and The Best Race Swag. Considering all the great triathlons across the country, it is a tribute to the race organizers to be recognized like this.
PICKING UP WHERE HE LEFT OFF: Concord's Nacho Hernandodominated the local road race scene in 2013. In the first few weeks of 2014 he has started with a win, at the Concord 4th Down and 4 Miler, and a second at the snowshoe race in Hollis. I am guessing Hernando will be just as successful this year as he was last year.
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A TOUGH WINTER FOR RACES: They may have caught a break with nice weather in New Jersey for the Super Bowl but we haven't been as lucky on race day over the past few weeks. Going back to mid-November, at the Wolf Hollow Half Marathon, almost every race day has seen low temps and/or high winds. Thanksgiving Day, the Jingle Bell Half Marathon, Millennium Mile, and Boston Prep races were all held under difficult conditions. Because the ground hog saw his shadow, we may see more of the same until the race season picks up in the Spring.
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RUNNING SHORTS: Boston Prep 16 Mile winners were Sam Fazioli of Salem and Lindsay Willard of Somerville, Mass. ... Joining Hernando in the winner's circle at the 4th Down and 4 Miler was Denise Spenard of Manchester. ... At Claremont's Crown Point Pigskin 5K the winners were two Claremont runners, Kenneth Wiley and Rebecca Pickul. ...Nice tease by Millennium Running. On the company's website, millenniumrunning.com, it posted that a Fat Tuesday 5K is coming soon without any other details. If it is held on a Tuesday, it could be the largest Tuesday race in New Hampshire history.
Andy Schachat's column appears every other week in the New Hampshire Sunday News. Email him at email@example.com.