It may be the most sought after race to run in Massachusetts after the Boston Marathon. The runners entered in Sunday’s New Balance Falmouth Road Race were selected through the registration lottery, local residents or fundraisers for one of the race’s many charity partners. All together, over 12,000 runners covered the 7 miles from Woods Hole to Falmouth for the 41st running of the race.
The Falmouth Road Race is not just a race, but a weekend-long event for the town. The town of 31,000 welcomes 12,000 runners plus family and friends. The race weekend also includes a family run and the Falmouth Mile on Friday and Saturday, respectively.
I have run the Falmouth Road Race twice, in 2008 and 2011. The first year I ran, I was impressed from the time I picked up my number. It was the first race that where I received a bib with my name on it!
Falmouth is a point-to-point course, with runners beginning in Woods Hole and finishing in Falmouth Heights. Squeezing 12,000 runners onto a 2 lane coastal road requires the runners to start in waves beginning at 10:00. This year, for the first time, the elite women had their own start. Also this year, Jeff Bauman, injured in this year’s marathon bombing, addressed the crowd before the wheelchair race.
Both years I ran, I was in the second wave of runners. I don’t know if every runner would agree with me, but I never felt like I was sharing the roads with more than 10,000 others, and both years was able to find my pace pretty easily. To me, Falmouth is a premier running event with a real local road race feel.
And while I can’t say I enjoyed it too much on race day, the route is quite beautiful. (I did drive it prior to the race and actually saw this all without sweat in my eyes.) The first 3 miles are on hilly shaded roads while the second half of the race is flat, with a view of Martha’s Vineyard to the right. Runners dig in for a short but steep hill before reaching a finish line, framed by spectators.
Meg Reilly, of Boston, MA, has run Falmouth several times but decided this year to head to the Cape as a spectator. She was cheering for the elites, her friends and anyone who looked like they could use a cheerleader. Her tip for runners: Wear a shirt with your name on it and you’ll feel like the Mayor as you run through Falmouth Heights, with EVERYONE cheering your name.
“Small town” road races that attract internationally renowned runners don’t happen every day. Well, unless you count Beach to Beacon, which took place last weekend in Cape Elizabeth, Maine. And incidentally Michah Kogo (32:10) and Joyce Chepkirui (36:43) won both races.
From casual joggers to professional athletes, the New Balance Falmouth Road Race welcomed running shoes of all speeds and sizes on Sunday. And the town of Falmouth welcomed many more visitors than a typical summer weekend at the Cape. Suggestions have been made to move the race to an earlier start next year and the race will move back to its traditional date of the 3rd weekend in August in 2014. But despite whatever changes are implemented, I would bet that there will be just as many runners who want to be at the starting line in Woods Hole next year.
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