With the highest elevation on the course measuring in at just 60 feet, the Smuttynose Half Marathon and Rockfest can tout that it’s probably the flattest half marathon in New Hampshire. And as it moves north from downtown Hampton—with views of rolling waves—to the rural roads and neighborhoods of North Hampton, you soon realize that this race is no slouch on scenery. For the final five miles, the loop course swings back to Ocean Boulevard, giving runners some prime ocean/surf views as they head to the finish line. Half-marathon runners start off at 10:00 a.m. with a 9:00 a.m. sunshine start for walkers, thus making this a race for all abilities.
Born to Run
The folks at LOCO Sports know a thing or two about putting on a great race. And they sure know how to throw a party too! The Smuttynose Half Marathon and Rockfest is the perfect place to test your readiness for a late October or early November marathon. Since the course is fast and flat, runners can really push themselves without needing a longer recovery that might come with running hills. But this course isn’t just for seasoned runners; the flat course makes it ideal for those wanting to attempt 13.1 for the first time.
Runners and walkers will begin the race at the center of Hampton Beach—close to the Sea Shell Stage (or the “Clamshell” to locals). Heading south at the start, racers can warm up on a loop that travels down Route 1A toward Hampton Beach State Park and then swings back past the start line. Hint: If it’s a cool day, this is the perfect chance to unload any unwanted layers of clothing to your respective spectators and fans.
The race course provides a tour of Hampton and North Hampton. It follows country roads with scenes of fall foliage, ponds and neighborhoods. The smell of the saltwater and sand will become more prominent again as runners turn back onto Ocean Boulevard—just north of the eight-mile mark. Look to your left and you will see sand, surf and the sea with Hampton Beach beckoning in the distance. Views include the rocky bluff of North Hampton’s Little Boar’s Head. Look to the right and gaze at beautiful beachfront homes as you again pass North Hampton State Beach. Gearing up for that final sprint back to the finish line should be a cinch, as cheering crowds and a live rock band pull you through the final chute.
Pacers will be seeding themselves among racers, so be sure to find one and stick with him or her. There’s nothing better than toasting a new half marathon PR, and a pacer is one of the best ways to get you there. The course features four water stops at miles 2.5, 5, 7.5 and 10. Sports drink and gels will also be available, allowing you to run carefree and without a weighty hydration belt. Because the certified course will be timed using the lightweight D-tag from Yankee Timing—a disposable paper-thin timing strip—you’ll feel light as a feather when you head to that post-race party and the results will be posted very quickly.
Rock and Roll All Night
The ‘Rockfest’ portion of the day begins once runners start crossing that finish line—around 11:30 a.m. As you catch your breath, hydrate and admire your one-of-a-kind finisher’s medal, just follow the music to the festivities. The post-race Rockfest features some terrific live music from a local rock band. And what goes great with rock music and 1,500 or so other runners to share race stories with? Beer and food, of course! Smuttynose Brewing Company will be serving their best brews, so grab a pint and enjoy some post-race grub at the adjacent Ashworth Hotel Ballroom. Check online (http://www.locorunning.com/hamptonhalf-home.html) for updates.
Then it’s time to kick back and congratulate yourself for that PR, that first half marathon, or just for getting out of bed early on a Sunday morning. The band will keep playing through the afternoon and the party will continue—relax and enjoy. The awards ceremony is slated to take place during a break in the Rockfest. Make certain to stick around to collect your hardware and to cheer on other the prize winners. The top three male and female finishers as well as age group winners (5-year groups) will receive prizes.
It’s Your Thing—Register Early to Get In
Registration includes a high-quality technical wicking shirt (available to the first 1,000 registered runners). Pre-registration ends on October 2nd. Race-day registration is available for $50 if available, but don’t take the chance; save $5 and register now. To register online, visit http://www.locorunning.com/hamptonhalf-registration.html.