The Jennifer Tinney Road Race is a set of races including a 5 Miler, 5K, a 1 mile run and a 2.5 mile walk.
The races take place in East Boxford Village, MA each 4th of July. The races are in honor of Jennifer Tinney who was a local runner. One day while she and her mother were out for a run, she was tragically struck by a drunk driver and killed.
Members of the Tinney family, including Jennifer, ran the race when it was the Boxford Athletic Association 4th of July race. Her brother and nephew have run the race since it was renamed in honor of Jennifer.
Here is a Salem News article with a brief interview with Jennifer’s father.
Why I love the Jennifer Tinney Road Race
Back in 2013 I ran the 5 mile race for the first time. My buddy Jeff Rushton drove up with me and of course he beat me in the 5 Miler! At the time, they let 5 Mile runners run the 1 Mile race for free, so I ran that one as well.
The Boxford area is an amazingly rural and beautiful place to run. There are many open fields, pastures and woods to run by. There are also many old houses which I love to look at as I run by.
In 2013 I was struck by the home town feel and family orientation. Runners do come from all over north-eastern Massachusetts to run, but so do many local families.
It’s great to see kids running with their parents and older children going all out for the win.
After the race there is a 4th of July parade. I didn’t stay for it in 2013, and I didn’t stay for it this year either. As we drove home today we passed just about every piece of emergency equipment from the Town of Boxford. What kids wouldn’t love that!
Unlike a big race in Boston or Cambridge, things are simpler and on a smaller scale in a small town race like the Jennifer Tinney Road Race.
This year 84 people ran the 5 Miler and 68 ran the 5K. 49 people ran the 1-mile race.
It’s a completely different vibe than the hustle and bustle of a city race.
As we ran our warm up today, everyone agreed that “serene” seemed to be the best word to describe this day and this location.
Running the Jennifer Tinney Road Race
These races are part of the Melrose Running Club’s 2017 Race Series. I didn’t expect a large turn out, but we ended up with about 14 people. During the awards ceremony the race director said that it looked like Melrose had taken over Boxford for the day!
I drove up with Durm Cahill and we kept seeing people from the club. We even had one of our newly graduated “Walk to Run” runners with us. One goal of the race series is to encourage new members to come out and enjoy racing, so I was very happy to see our newly minted runner.
Just before 8 o’clock the race director gathered us around and tried to make announcements. This being a small town race, he didn’t have a very loud PA system. We could barely hear most of what he said.
But we did hear where the start line was and we headed in that direction. Most of us lined up back from the line expecting other runners to fill in the space. They didn’t, we were all the runners there were! My buddy Mike Sikkema was on the starting line and was all business. Durm and I hung back a bit.
On a verbal command we were off! We headed down Depot Road and crossed Georgetown Road. Soon we were on a cool, tree shaded road.
The air was thick with the forest, streams and swamps. In the sun, you could see the mist in the air.
My phone said it was 67° but it felt more like 80°!
As we approached three-quarters of a mile I could still see the lights for the lead police car. Before the mile, they were out of sight.
Durm struck out on his own soon after the start, so I was running my own race. No need to keep up with anyone or run beyond my feel.
Over the first mile we had climbed 31 feet. Nothing major, just some rolling hills. Mile one chimed in at 7:57. Better than I had expected.
At about a mile-and-a-quarter I could hear running water. Soon I saw a pond with a dam and water flowing over. We crossed Pye Brook and shortly thereafter turned left onto Pond Street.
Runners were spaced apart now and I spent most of the race running alone. A few times I would pass someone, but mostly people passed me.
Running alone can make it difficult to push hard. With someone on your heels it’s much easier to run a wee bit faster.
Just before Mile 2 we took a quick jog onto Kelsey Road. An unmarked mile two chimed in at 7:45. A few more seconds in the bank!
After a quarter-mile we turned left onto Woodcrest Road. At the water stop they had good sized paper cups full of cool water. I was able to grab, pinch and get two good gulps of relief. The rest went down my shirt!
We were only 40% done, but I felt much more done than that!
We were on Woodcrest for most of a winding mile through the country side. I tried to enjoy the sights as mush as possible.
At the end of Woodcrest we turned left onto Georgetown Road. One of the volunteers told us Georgetown ran us right to the finish. That was cool to hear, but we were still short of three miles.
Soon after the turn, mile three chimed in at 8:09! I had robbed the bank on that mile! We had gained another 21 feet, but it didn’t seem that bad.
I still had a shot at a 40 minute finish, so I dug a little deeper.
There were now a few runners around me. Two people kept moving further ahead and I could tell that at least two others were closing on me. I managed to keep one guy behind me and thought I was wearing him down on the hills.
Eventually he passed me and shortly after that a young lady moved ahead also. I was doing all I could, so it didn’t bother me.
Finishing the Jennifer Tinney Road Race
We were now approaching walkers. I thought they were 5K runners who had flamed out and that I was making relative progress. I was wrong. They were the 2.5 mile walkers!
Mile four was mostly rolling hills and I managed an 8:00 mile. Now we were on the home stretch.
I had another guy on my heels so I used the hills as best I could. I could tell he was dieing going up the hills so I pushed. When we got to a downhill I extended my stride and tried to stay in front of him.
He eventually passed and we finished close together.
Somewhere around here we hit the second water stop. A women who had passed me stopped to walk and drink. Soon she passed me again.
I executed a near perfect, grab,pinch and gulp. We were on the home stretch and I was looking for that finish line!
The last mile was mostly flat and I managed a 7:57 mile. As mile five chimed, the finish line was still ahead of me. The guy who passed me was speeding up and so did I.
As I approached the finish I could see 39:48 on the clock. I was running as fast as I could, but the clock was faster. My time was 40:11.
Melrose Carries the Day
As I crossed the line I could see four of the guys hanging out talking. I was that much slower!
When the awards were announced Mike Sikkema was the fastest man in the 5 miler with a time of 30:28 for a pace of 6:06!
Now the truly amazing part of Mike’s win is that he got to run a slightly longer race than everyone else. When he got to the left onto Pond Street, a police car was parked on top of the arrow and the cop didn’t know which way to go.
Mike went strait but said he was pretty sure right away it wasn’t right. Fortunately, Kevin Elwood was close behind and yelled out to Mike. Mike had run about 200 yards in the wrong direction before Kevin saw him.
Even with the extra distance, Mike came in first. Kevin Elwood of Boxford came in second at 31:19.
David Penn was 12th overall and 3rd in his age group.
Matt Kerton was 15th overall.
Diarmuid Cahill was 22nd overall and 2nd in his age group.
I came in 31st overall.
Gail Severt was our top female finisher at 49th overall. This was Gail’s first race of the day!
In the 5K Cynthia Berger finished 23rd overall and Greg Berger finished 24th.
Cynthia was first in her age group and Greg was second in his.
Rebecca Hughes was our Walk to Run finisher today. She ran with her daughter Diana Hughes who came in 3rd in her age group.
We had a good sized group show up and they did very well in both races.
I hope you had a Happy 4th of July and got out there to enjoy the weather.