A couple of weeks ago I chronicled the changes on the New Hampshire road race and triathlon scene over the past 20-25 years. It seemed only natural to keep going, so this week we look ahead.
Here are some thoughts, predictions, and questions about the upcoming years on our local running and multi-sport scene:
TECHNOLOGY - People with far more expertise than I would know a lot more about how the sport will continue to benefit from improved technology in the future. How long will it be before the list of phone apps includes an ability to know exactly what place you are in, overall and in your age group, throughout the entire race? Route-mapping apps; apps that keep track of distance, pace and calories counts - they're all available.We've seen great changes in just the past five years, let along the past quarter century. I can only imagine the great changes that lie ahead.
NEW HAMPSHIRE'S BIGGEST RACE - For close to years, the Cigna/Eliot Corporate 5K, an August event in Manchester, has had the largest number of officially timed finishers, with well over 5,000 finishers annually. For most of those years, no other race has come close. But challengers are on the horizon.
The Smuttynose Rockfest Marathon/Half Marathon event had close to 4,000 finishers in 2012 and has trended upwards in the past couple of years. In Manchester, the Northeast Delta Delta Shamrock Shuffle and the Santa Claus Shuffle are closing in on the 3,000 range. Don't be surprised if one of those events catches, and passes Cigna/Eliot in the next few years.
GROWTH IN CONCORD AND NASHUA - In 2012, Nashua and Concord each had one race with more than 1,000 finishers while the Manchester area had five and the Seacoast region had 11. There is room for growth in both the Gate City and Capital City, and over the next five to 10 years, those two locales should see more major events.
NEW SERIES - The success of a number of race series in the Granite State over the past few years should inspire some new series' to emerge. One of the reason for the prediction that Nashua will grow is the introduction in 2013 of a Gate City series that is being supported by Millennium Running. Millennium running also is supporting the Portsmouth Community series, a series that has been around a few years but has yet to catch on. Other road race entrepreneurs most likely to pick up on Millennium Running's lead.
THE TRIATHLON GAP - Over the past 10 years, the triathlon scene in New Hampshire has seen both growth and decline. Former Gilford resident Keith Jordan started the Timberman, Mooseman and Black Fly triathlon festivals, events that became major players on the local, regional, and national triathlon schedule. Then Jordan moved to Texas, sold Timberman and Mooseman, and discontinued Black Fly. The new owners decided to drop Mooseman, leaving only Timberman as the big triathlon on the local scene. Attempts to keep Mooseman going were unsuccessful.
That leaves a gap in New Hampshire's multi-sport schedule. I know there are race organizers out there who are plotting either to bring back races that disappeared or come up with new events. Stay tuned.
WHAT'S MISSING? It may appear we have everything in New Hampshire, races of all sizes and distances. But there are some things we lack. For example ...
-- A major all-women's race. I predict it won't be long before we see one New Hampshire roads or trails. Most of the growth in road races in the past 20 years has come from female participation, so it would seem natural that an all-women's race would be popular. We do have on nearby. LOCO Sports, a New Hampshire-based race management company hosts an all-women's half marathon in Newburyport, Mass.
-- A major "stand-alone" marathon. No 26.2-miler in New Hampshire has produced more than 1,000 finishers, and the two largest marathons in the state are run in conjunction with a half marathon. Meanwhile, the Vermont City Marathon and Marathon Relay in draws more than 2,500 individuals, along with nearly 1,000 teams of up to four runners, to Burlington every Memorial Day Weekend. It will be interesting to see if anyone tries to duplicate Vermont City's success and stage a Granite State on a similar scale.
-- An elite race as part of a New England series. This may seem like a pipe dream, but hear me out. Every August, two races draw world-class runners to the region on consecutive weekends: the Beach To Beacon 10K in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, and the Falmouth Road Race on Cape Cod. How about adding New Hampshire to the mix and giving elite runners the opportunity to go for the New England Triple Crown?
Sounds fun, doesn't it?
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Running shorts: At the end of June a great family event is coming to Northwood, a weekly running series featuring 1 mile and 3.6 mile runs. The series will be held Wednesday nights from June 26 through August 14. For more information go to http://tinyurl.com/m6d5sly ... Eric Couture of Rochester has had quite a couple of weeks. Two weeks after beating more than 2,000 to the finish line at the Runner's/Alley Red Hook 5K in Portsmouth, Couture was back in the city and winning the state's largest 6.2-miler, the Market Square Day 10K, on June 8 ... Could this be a first in USA road races? Jen Mortimer, one of New Hampshire's top female runners and a teacher at the Grantham Village Elementary School, was the first overall finisher in a race put on by the school. As at most schools, teachers at Grantham Village are never addressed by their first name, so the winner in this particular race is listed as "Mrs. Mortimer" in the official results. When have you ever seen race results with a prefix rather than first name before the winner's surname?
Andy Schachat's column on running, road racing and triathlons appears every other week in the New Hampshire Sunday News. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.