Race Review: New Bedford Half Marathon
March 17, 2013
The Bad News: This weekend was one of the hardest races on my body ever! Not sure why but I really struggled.
The Good News: It was a great event and the town of New Bedford is a wonderful little place to visit.
New Bedford is a quiet old whaling town in Massachusetts about 30 miles south of Cape Cod. I knew from the get go that the event would be quaint when the one hotel in town was sold out. Luckily the town is filled with lots of nice bed and breakfast inns. We chose to stay at The Orchard Street Manor that was about a half mile from the expo (using that term lightly) and the start of the race. Since I’ve never stayed at a B&B I was a little nervous but The Orchard Street Manor was fantastic. Upon arrival we got a tour of the house along with its history and some local advise on the area. The Saulniers, who now own the house, were very friendly and had many stories to tell, unfortunately our time was too limited to hear them all.
Me in front of the house on race day!
The “Expo” was hosted by the local YMCA . It is really nothing more than a place to gather with local runners and to pick up your bib and shirt. Since the race doesn’t start until 11AM they offer race day packet pickup which is nice. I was happy to see several runners dressed in silly green costumes. It was St. Patty’s day after all!
The start of the race is very low key, even with a record field of 3,700 runners. My only complaint was that the 10 bathrooms were definitely not enough for the crowd. Since there was only one bathroom stop on the course it was either wait in line… or run 7 miles holding it.
Me and Brittany waiting for the start!
The starting corrals
Miles 1-3: The first couple of miles are pretty uneventful leaving the downtown area heading north into the more residential area of the city. There was a lot of fan support along the way with many local groups out to cheer you on.
Mile 3-7: Mile three starts you off with a challenging steep hill. One of the two major hills of the course. Be prepared for this! Nearly a straight half mile of running up a hill can get to you early in the race if you are still trying to catch your breath. Miles 4-7 are flat miles through the nice community of New Bedford heading towards the water. This part of the course gets hot with no shade. Wearing layers is advised.
Miles 7-11: As you leave the nice long flat stretch of the previous few miles you round a corner and BAM. The ocean and the wind hit you at the same time. At first the breeze feels great, then it just turns freezing cold. The local news paper did a story about the race and they claim that very rarely is the wind a tailwind. Perhaps it was better to not know this before the race… I wish I could tell you that the wind stopped blowing straight at you for even a minute but it didn’t. If you can brave the wind, you can have a wonderful time cruising in the flat along the ocean. The scenery was beautiful.
Tip: The only bathroom on the entire course is right after mile 7. There will be a line
Miles 12-13.1: As you leave the windy but serene coast just after hitting mile 11 you have a short time to catch your breath feel your face again before you head up the next big challenge. The hill leading you towards the finish is long and steady. Fortunately there is plenty to look at and crowds are there to cheer you on. Since it’s now about 1PM on St. Patty’s Day you will have quite a rowdy entourage on the sidelines. Once you finish the hill your last mile and a half are downhill or flat and relatively easy to pound out if you need to make up some time.
The finish was surprisingly big for such a small event. It was nice to hear my name as I crossed the finish line. I did not attend the “after party” but you they had roped off a nice little area where they were serving clam chowder and beer.
Check out the medal and race t-shirts.
Pros: Great small town event, awesome crowds, scenic course, no hassle event, fast field and course
Cons: Only one bathroom on the course, crowded and limited water stops, no Gatorade, very windy and cold
I would recommend this race to anyone who enjoys small town events with lots of character. The best part about the race was staying at a carefree bed and breakfast and hanging out with the nice people of the city. Oh and eating fresh seafood!