A few things have changed with the 18th annual Nashua Soup Kitchen and Shelter Run for Food and Shelter on Sunday, April 10th, but one thing stays the same—this is one superb event that helps thousands of people in need throughout the Greater Nashua region. This year, it boasts two new race courses and a new starting location.
It's been a tough winter for everyone in New England. Low temperatures and mounting snow piles have kept many runners chained to their treadmills, logging mile after endless mile on the human hamster wheel. Spring brings a sigh of relief to all New England runners, with visions of clear roads and gloveless runs, sunshine and spring time, although we all know it is New England weather and running is an all-weather sport.
But thousands of families in the area have dealt with much more serious concerns this winter—rising costs for home heating fuel, gas and groceries, to name a few. And these worries don't go away with the arrival of spring. The Nashua Soup Kitchen and Shelter (NSK&S) has been seeing a large increase in the number of people coming to them for meals, as with many similar organizations. Needs are great. In December 2010, the number of meals served was up 56% over the previous year, said Lisa Christie, executive director of the shelter and race organizer for every one of the 18 years. January numbers increased 43% year-over-year.
The NSK&S fills about 30 beds per night and feeds anywhere from 150 to 200 people a day for breakfast and dinner. The organization also gives out grocery bags containing fresh local produce Monday through Saturday. "Food bag handouts have also doubled over the last year," said Christie. Other services include community advocacy, employment/education programs, assistance in locating affordable housing, rent and fuel assistance as well as transitional and permanent housing. It is a big job, a demanding job; and what better way to help fund these programs than a true community pair of races.
While these numbers are staggering, there is a way for runners to help by simply doing what they love. The Run for Food and Shelter 5K and 10K races are one of the top fundraising events for the Nashua Soup Kitchen and Shelter. So lace up those running shoes and get ready to help make a difference as you run for good—and in a new location. Not only that, these are very enjoyable events and the post race food is terrific!
Set a New PR or a New Course Record
Another change on the list involves the courses themselves. The starting point for Run for Food and Shelter has moved to Rivier College's Muldoon Fitness Center, located at 420 South Main Street in Nashua, which is easy to get to from the north and south, has ample onsite parking and plenty of room for pre-race stretching, socializing and strategizing.
Both the 5K and 10K courses are new, of course, so this is your chance to get your name in the record books and set a course record! Now in its fourth year (added to the annual 5K original in 2008), the USATF-certified 10K race starts at 1:00 p.m. on South Main St., just across the road from the fitness center. Runners head out on South Main Street for just over a mile, and then turn onto Clairmoor Drive, for some low-traffic miles through residential streets. The course turns back onto South Main Street at about 2.5 miles and then onto Fairway Street—just before Rivier College-again. Travel a few more miles through another residential section before turning back onto Main Street at mile 5 for that final 1.2-mile push to the finish. A small incline in the last mile will challenge you and force you to dig deeper for a strong and satisfying finish.
The 18th annual 5K race starts at 1:10 p.m. and heads off in the same direction as the 10K course. At 3 miles, runners take a right onto Fairway, then a quick left to cross the finish line in the fitness center lot. The 3K walk also starts at 1:10; walkers line up behind 5K runners.