Smuttynose Rockfest Half Marathon 2017

The Smuttynose Rockfest Half is one of my favorite half marathons. 2017 is the third time I’ve run this seacoast race and the slowest I’ve run this race.

Smuttynose Rockfest Half

Racing to New Hampshire

The race director encouraged everyone to get to Hampton Beach by 6AM. Parking is always tight when you have 6,000 runners and their friends come to town!

Durm Cahill and I left Melrose just after 5AM and had an easy drive up the highway. As we took the exit off of 95 North to NH 101 East, I saw a coyote on the side of the rode. Alive. I’ve only seen one once before and that was up near Lake Winnipesaukee, also in New Hampshire.

As we drove into the town of Hampton Beach we saw a line of cars at a stop sign. I told Durm to follow them to the parking area. Even though it was a Sunday, Hampton Beach collects parking fees every day of the week until October 31st. Almost as bad as Newton.

It was a bit of a walk in the dark to the race HQ. But we kept following the crowd. I’ve done this race before but I was a little foggy on which way to go.

When we got there everything looked just like I remembered it. Big white tents and about 50 porta-potties all in a row along the edge of the parking lot.

When we went into the tent to get our numbers the place was lit by Coleman lamps and there were no lines. In no time we were at the porta-potties for round one.

We headed back to the car and stopped to get a muffin and coffee as our pre-race meal. I ate mine in about 10 seconds. It was good and I was hungry. I didn’t finish the coffee.

After we got our gear situated we headed back to the porta potties and the bag drop area. They gave out a nice fleece instead of a shirt. We stuffed our fleeces into a sling bag and gave them to the attendants.

Running Smuttynose Rockfest Half

Smuttynose Rockfest Half Start, new hampshire half marathonWe were quite a ways back from the front of this crowd. Durm ran the Lochness Marathon the week before and I had barely run at all. I was actually still dealing with a cold on race day.

We were also running the BAA Half the next weekend. The idea was to run a 10 minute pace and see how we felt.

Starting in the 2:10 to 2:25 group seemed like the wisest thing to do.

They played the National Anthem and most people took it seriously. There were a few people behind us who didn’t stop talking for a minute. Another dufas had some sort of speaker system playing fairly loud music.

After they told us to “Go!” it took about six minutes to cross the starting line. We’ve all been there before.

Durm Cahill, Andy Nagelin, Smuttynose Rockfest HalfThe first three miles or so were a loop down Ashworth Avenue and Ocean Blvd/Rt. 1A. We managed to average just under 10 minute miles for those miles, even with the crowd.

Around mile Four we were headed North out of town on Ocean Blvd/Rt. 1A. The pack had loosened up a bit and we started to settle into a pace that we would work to maintain.

We enjoyed the ocean breeze, blue sky and comfortable temperature all the way up Ocean Blvd. There were a few people along the course cheering us on and traffic was light.

Around six and a half miles we took a left onto High Street. The road was freshly paved and I commented how we wouldn’t have to worry about twisting an ankle on this road.

I took my first gel at mile five and just up High Street they were handing out gels. I took one and sucked it down with some water anyway. I wasn’t out to be a hero.

Now we were away from the beach and in a more residential area. Along this road we hit our peak elevation of 54 feet. It isn’t much but you could tell some people were struggling a bit. Durm and I run hills all the time so we kept up the pace.

Mile 8 had the most elevation gain and we ran an 9:53 mile. Nothing crazy, but we didn’t slow down. Mile nine was 9:43 and each mile got faster from there.

Around mile 10 we got back onto Ocean Blvd/Rt. 1A South. We were feeling good. Nothing hurt and we just had the expected fatigue. I haven’t run much more than 5K at a time in about a month.

Finishing Smuttynose Rockfest Half

All the way down Rt. 1A we kept picking up the pace. Up until mile 10 I had kept a close eye on our pace and kept holding us back. For both of us the natural tendency is to run as fast as we can.

That’s not a good strategy for a half marathon. It’s especially bad for one guy who just ran a marathon and one guy who has barely run in weeks.

As we ran along the coast, more than once I reflected on my last race down this road. I hurt and I was exhausted. It was the Eastern States 20 Miler. At this point in the race I still had five miles or so to run and I was spent. I felt the level of pain and exhaustion that I’ve only ever felt at the end of a marathon.

This time, on this day I felt really good.

I could not have run nine-minute miles but we did keep passing people and increasing our pace.

The last three miles were: 9:13, 9:05 and 9:01. For the last sprint we managed a 7:21 pace for 0.17 miles. I’m always amazed at the last flash of speed when the finish line is in sight.

Durm said we should finish together. Then near the finish he darted in front of another runner that I could not get around. We finished hundredths of a second apart at 2:06 and change.

Apre Smuttynose Rockfest Half

Smuttynose Rockfest Half Marathon 2017, lobster rollThe Smuttynose Half has an awesome apre race party. There is Smuttynose ale, of course. But they also have clam chowder and lobster rolls. You only get one of each but hot chowder and a lobster roll taste pretty good after 13.17 miles!

We headed to the beer area first. Had two beers, listened to the band and then went in search of lobster rolls. The food tent was down near the finish line. The beer tent was about a quarter mile south from there!

Fortunately we were okay to walk that far and it actually felt good. The line to get food wasn’t too bad and in no time we were drinking hot chowder from the bowl and heading back to the beer tent.

Smuttynose Rockfest Half, IPAThe crowd had grown and a few people were turned away due to lack of proper ID. Durm and I are old enough to be the card check guy’s father, so he just let us walk in with a hearty “Enjoy Guys!”

As we waited in line I spotted my friends from team “Slow and Thirsties.” Lisa Hines, Cheryl Varney and Susan Hanly. In a crowd of over 6,000 people I didn’t think I’d find them. But there they were near the beer tables! Imagine that!

We had fun comparing notes and our general silliness. I’m still not sure that the old gang is showing up for the Cambridge Winter Classic 5K. I had to hold down a team table all by myself at the Cambridge Fall Classic.

Durm and I decided it was time to head to one of the six bars that would take our beer tickets. I took out my map and spotted the first bar, almost across the street. It seemed to make sense to avoid the first bar.

So we headed to the second bar just across the street from the first!

We got in right away and went up three flights to the bar and quickly had another pint of the good stuff. Before we finished our beer our buzzer went off and we were seated on the second floor balcony overlooking the race area.

It was a bit chilly at times. I was still in just my race shorts and had cooled off by then. We enjoyed fish and chips, one more beer and some great conversation.

We slowly wandered back to the car and made our way back down the highway to Melrose.

Run well My Friends,


Assault on Mt Hood XI

Assault on Mt Hood

assault on mt hood, nut cracker

Presented by the Melrose Running Club at Mt. Hood Golf Course in conjunction with the Melrose Fish and Game Club, the Assault on Mt Hood begins at Noon on December 12th.

Now in its 11th year, this 3.5 mile cross-country race draws runners from all over Eastern Mass and Southern New Hampshire.

Directions HERE.

You can still register at Marathon Sports in Melrose from 3-7pm on Friday, December 11th or on race day starting at 10:30. The race is limited to 400 runners, so it is best if you can get over to Marathon Sports on Friday.

Race Director, Brian Slater, and his team have mapped out a new course this year that is sure to challenge runners of all calibers. Come and run for an award or for the fun of it, but come and run a cross-country race that has become a tradition for many runners over the past 10 years.

Assault on Mt Hood Beneficiaries

AOMHThis popular cross-country race benefits Housing Families, Inc and other local charities. While charities vary from year to year quite often they include the Melrose High School Cross Country Team and Melrose Police Department.

Come run a fun and challenging course, support local charities and see if you can win one of our famous Nut Crackers!

A substantial spread of hot food will be available in the club house after the race along with cold beer to fill your race pint glass!

Enjoy a great run at the Assault on Mt Hood and then enjoy warm food and warm conversations in the Melrose Fish and Game club house.

Be sure to arrive early to help with tight parking and enjoy a spectacular fall run.

Who knows it may snow or it may feel like a nice spring cross-country run!

Run well my friends!


© 2015 andrew nagelin

Why I Love Saturday Races

It seems that the majority of races are on Sunday. I don’t know if race organizers feel that Saturday races interfere with errands and kids sports events or if it’s just easier to get a permit for a Sunday.

I love Saturday Races

Why you may ask?

fall races, saturday racesA Saturday race forces me to get up and get going on a Saturday morning. Most races start before 10AM and I can generally be heading home by Noon. Half-marathons and marathons usually start earlier, so I can still be heading home by 1pm or so.

After a Saturday race I can run errands on the way home. While I may not want to head to the local garden center and haul 20 bags of mulch I can still go to the bank and Post Office. Even getting a tank of gas can feel like an accomplishment after a race.

Running on Saturday leaves Sunday open for another race. Last summer I ran Saturday and Sunday on a few weekends. It was fun.In the fall there are so many great races, it’s impossible to run them all. Run a few Saturday races and you can pick up a few more fun races.

Running on Saturday gives me a sense of accomplishment. Since I usually run on Sundays, it makes me feel like I’m ahead of schedule. I feel more relaxed on Sunday knowing that my major goal of the weekend has been accomplished.

I prefer to drink on Saturday. Many races serve beer at the after race party. While this usually means having my first beer before 10AM, I feel better on Monday if I have a few beers on Saturday and not Sunday morning.

How do you feel?

  •  Do you enjoy or prefer Saturday races?
  • Do you avoid Saturday races?

Run well my Friends!


© 2015 andrew nagelin

New England Fall Marathons 2015

Fall in New England is a great time to run a marathon.

Usually the heat and humidity of summer are gone and the snow is yet to fly. For many runners, Fall is their favorite time to run a marathon. I compiled this list from a web site called Race Raves. This site has race reviews and you can add your own review.

When available I’ve also added links to course videos from Viewtherace.comThese videos are 20 minutes or so long and narrated to give you a few more tips on what to expect.

Some race links have been disabled.

New England Fall Marathons

Joe English Twilight Challenge

Saturday, September 26th, 2015   –   6 Hour Ultra, Marathon, 1/2 Marathon, Marathon & 1/2 Marathon Relay

Freestyle Farm, 188 Mack Hill Road, Amherst, New Hampshire

The Joe English Twilight Challenge is an evening/night trail run hosted by Freestyle Farm in Amherst, NH. The event consists of a marathon, a half-marathon and a 6-hour ultra-marathon. The marathon and half-marathon may be run individually or by relay teams. The relay teams (half or full marathon) consist of 2 or 5 runners completing either 5 or 10 laps on a 2.62-mile loop beginning at 7:00 p.m. The 6-hour ultra-marathon begins at 5:00 p.m. and ends at 11 p.m. Ultra participants run the 2.62-mile loop continuously for 6 hours.

Most of the race will be run at night on the groomed equestrian trails at Freestyle Farm.

The event is expected to draw 350 runners ranging from casual athletes to experienced ultra-runners. The event is set within a unique venue with high quality trails around a 50-acre pond. The course will be marked with fluorescent light sticks, ground flags and signal fires.

This is race reminds me of The Ultra Around the Lake in Wakefield. You gotta love a race that uses signal fires to keep you on course.

Registration is $35 and $45 day of. That’s a great price for a half marathon, or run a 6-hour ultra and see how many miles you can do.

Clarence Demar Marathon and Half-Marathon

Sunday, September 27th, 2015  –  8AM start time

Keene, NH

This is a race almost as legendary as the man. In Melrose we run by the monument to Clarence Demar on our winter running route and on many Sunday Longs runs as well. Many runners in my club make it a point to touch the monument as they run by. Many of my friends have run this race, some of them have run it a few times.

This race encompasses an entire weekend if you want it to. You can drive up to Keene Friday night and pick up your bib at Ted’s Shoe & Sport on Main Street. Drive the course or go for a short run on Saturday. Saturday night there is a pasta dinner at the St. George Greek Orthodox Church.

On Sunday buses will take runners to the starting line. Marathon buses leave at 6:15, Half-Marathon buses start leaving at 6:30AM.

If you have never heard of Clarence Demar here is a brief bio.

New Hampshire Marathon and Half-Marathon

Saturday, October 3rd, 2015  –  9AM

Bristol, NH 

This event features a Marathon, Half-Marathon, 10K, 5K Health Walk and Kid’s Marathon. Truly something for everyone. You may want to drive up Friday and enjoy the pasta dinner at 7:30pm at the Union Lodge, and get a good night’s sleep. Lodging options are listed on the race web site. NH Marathon course video

NipMuck Trail Marathon

Sunday, October 4th, 2015  –  8AM

Ashford, CT

The NipMuck Trail Marathon is a classic old-school trail race taking place along a northern section of  the Nipmuck Trail. The race aims to preserve many of the qualities from the early days of the New England trail racing scene.

Now in it’s 32nd year this out and back double loop race is not for first timers. The race site warns of rough terrain and that in some areas an injured runner may wait an hour or more for medical assistance.

Only 150 runners may register. Additional details and warnings are on the registration site. Registration is $45.

Maine Marathon and Half-Marathon

Sunday, October 4th, 2015  –  7:45AM

Portland, Maine

Registration is $90 for the Marathon, $65 for The Half and $160 for the Marathon Relay, until September 27th. The combined races are capped at 3,500 runners. Registration closes when that number is met or September 27th, which ever comes first. So don’t wait!

Pasta dinner is at 4:30 at the USM cafeteria which is next to Sullivan Gym where the Expo and packet pickup are located.

I ran the race a few years ago and there was plenty of parking on campus. Crowd support was pretty good and the race was well organized. Maine Marathon course video

Hartford Marathon and Half-Marathon

Saturday, October 10th, 2015  –  8AM

Hartford, CT

I ran this marathon in 2012 and had a great and very eventful experience. The race is very well-organized with lots of community and spectator support. They have some very cool features as well.

Hartford offers a “Pre Perks Package” that will make you feel like an elite runner. For $65 you get:

a VIP heated , indoor space with access to real toilets
Race packet and shirt mailed to you
Race Day VIP Parking
Personal baggage check
Option to personalize your bib

They limit this to 400 runners, click the link for details.

Friday night is the pasta dinner at 6PM at The Hartford Club. All three races start at 8AM. The kids fun run, HMF FitKids Run starts at 9:30AM.

Registration is $105 for the Marathon, $75 for the Half and $35 for the 5K. Prices increase on September 30th and there is no race day registration. They charge $15 to mail your packet and strongly encourage you to visit the Expo Friday to pick up your packet and visit all the cool vendor booths. There is no race day packet pickup.

Check the registration page for relay team and youth prices.

The HMF FitKids Run is $10.

Check out this info graphic on the HMF sustainability efforts. Some really cool stuff here that more races should be doing.

Ocean State Rhode Races

Sunday, October 11th, 2015 – 7:30AM

Narragansett, RI

The Marathon starts at 7:30AM, Half at 8AM and the 5K at 8:15AM. These races feature FREE PHOTOS and a secured bag check at the start.

Registration is still open and is $100 for the Marathon, $75 for the Half and $35 for the 5K. The Half-Marathon is part of the Triple Crown series of Rhode Island Half-Marathons.

UnitedHealthcare Newport Marathon & Half

Sunday, October 11th, 2015 – 7:30AM

Newport, RI

Shuttle service to the start begins at 5AM. FREE PHOTOS and bag check will be available. Race Day registration begins at 5:15AM! The first $15 of each registration goes to support five local charities. 

Registration is $97 for the Marathon and $77 for the Half-Marathon. thru October 8th. Add $10 for October 9, 10 and 11.

Green Mountain Marathon & Half

Sunday, October 11th, 2015 – 8:30AM

South Hero, VT 

This race has reached it’s maximum registration of 750 and is closed.

The race begins and ends near the house where Clarence Demar once lived.  Infinite Pasta-bilities Dinner is Saturday night  at Folsom School, 4 – 7PM.

Good luck to everyone who managed to register!

Baystate Marathon & Half Marathon

Sunday, October 18th, 2015 – 8AM

Lowell, MA

marathon,running,baystateThis is a great marathon that I have run twice. Registration is still open for both races but getting is down to the last few hundred spots as of this writing. Registration is $95 for the Marathon and $75 for the Half-Marathon.

If you are looking to qualify for Boston, this is a good choice. The race is mostly flat with the bridges over the Merrimack having the most elevation gain. Part of the course is a double loop, so it can be challenging to see the “Mile 22” sign when you are at Mile 12 and starting to feel it. Baystate Marathon course video 

Mount Desert Marathon, Half and Relay

Sunday, October 18th, 2015 – 8AM – Marathon and Marathon Relay,
Half begins at 8:30 in Northeast Harbor

Bar Harbor, ME

Unfortunately the Half and Relay are sold out and the Marathon stopped taking registration on September 18th.

This popular race begins in Bar harbor, hits the half-way mark near Northeast Harbor and ends in Southwest Harbor. MDI has some of the most beautiful scenery and you will get to take it all in at the perfect pace.

Good luck to everyone who managed to register. This is one I want to run someday.

Cape Cod Marathon

Sunday, October 25th, 2015 – 8:30AM

Falmouth, MA

Registration is $85 through October 25th or until all 1,200 bibs are spoken for.

Novo Nordisk Cape Cod Marathon Half

Saturday October 24th – 7:30AM

Begins at Town Hall Square in Falmouth. Registration is $75 through October 25th or until all 1,200 bibs are spoken for.

Cape Cod Marathon Relay

Sunday, October 25th, 8:30AM

This five leg relay costs $160 per team with up to 200 teams allowed to participate. No race day registrations are allowed.

Clam Chowdah Challenge

Falmouth, marathon, new england fall marathons

Why not make a weekend on The Cape out of it and run both the Half Marathon on Saturday and the Marathon on Sunday?

For $175, 200 lucky runners will get to face the ultimate challenge and go for the Clam Chowdah Challenge mug.  There is no race day registration for this event either. 

Registration for the Clam Chowder Challenge is still open as of September 20th.

LOCO Marathon and Half

Sunday, October 25th, 2015 – 8AM

Newmarket, NH

46% of LOCO Marathon runners qualified for Boston last year! Amazing! Many of you may be familiar with the Great Bay Half Marathon and those killer hills. These races take a different rout with very few hills, none of any significance – according to LOCO Mike.

The Marathon is a double loop of the Half-Marathon. It’s all country roads and 3 miles of rail trail.

This is a runner’s race. The finish time cut-off for 59 years and under is 4:30. For 60 and older it is 5 hours even. Most marathons have a 6 hour cut-off time. If you are running to see the foliage, you may want to pick another race. If marathon runners cannot make the half-way mark by 2:15 or 2:30 for 60+ years, you will be pulled from the course!

Oh, and marathon runners MUST bring photo. So no faking 60+ to get the extra 30 minutes to finish the race!

Cut-off time for the Half-Marathon is 2:30.

Registration is $85 for the marathon and $100 on race day. The Half is $70 through October 21st. Limits of 1,000 runners total.

Black Goose Marathon & Seekonk Half

Sunday, November 1st, 2015 – 8AM

Seekonk, MA

Both races start out together and split off at mile 5. A few miles later the races re-join each other. There is a 6-hour time limit for the marathon.

This is the inaugural year for these races. I hate to be negative but the registration page has typos. The event web site says registration prices increase on 9/1, but as of 9/20 they still had the old price of $50 for the marathon and $35 for the Half. has the higher prices.

Ocean State Multi-Sport manages many races, so I’m sure the races will be fine. There is also a 5K as part of the event, but I could not find any details beyond the price, $17.00.

Anthem Manchester City Marathon, Half & Relay

Sunday, November 1st, 2015 – 8:50

Manchester, NH

Another popular race with Boston area runners. I’ve never run it but several friends have and they had good things to say. The web site describes the race as hilly, challenging and scenic. The race is a Boston Qualifier, but they don’t make it sound easy. Well, easy for a marathon.

On-Line Registration is $90 for the Marathon, $80 for the Half, $160 for the Marathon Relay and $80 for the Half Relay. There is NO race day registration and NO race day packet pickup.

They request that runners pick up their own packets and bring photo ID.

Course time limit is 6 hours. They have an early start at 7:40AM if you feel you cannot finish within the 6 hour time limit.

The Expo is more than just an Expo. Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield will be offering screenings and tips on health and wellness. Manchester City Marathon course video

Roxbury Marathon

Sunday, December 12th, 2015 – 8:30AM

Roxbury, CT

Held in the Hurlburt Recreation Area, this race is scenic, hilly and possibly chilly. The race web site does show two runners running in the snow.

Registration is $15, and that can’t be beat. They have water stations and course marshals. Here is the report from the race director, Scott Benjamin on the 2014 race. This is reportedly the only December marathon in New England.

Have you picked a fall marathon yet? I’m not in marathon shape, but that LOCO Marathon sounds interesting to me!

Run well my friends!


© 2015 andrew nagelin