By Jay Kumar
---- — The North Shore running scene is getting a shake-up next year as a new road race series will make its debut, with events of varying distances in several communities.
The Brooks 2014 North Shore Road Race Series will be comprised of eight races, including a new 10-mile race next June in Beverly.
Brooks Sports Company and New England Running Company of Beverly are hosting the series, which will include the following races: The Frosty Four (Jan. 1, Salem), the Beach to Beach 5K (May 10, Marblehead), the New England Running Company 10-miler (June 22, Beverly), Miles Over the Moon 4-miler (July 13, Salem), Bridge and Back 10K (Aug. 3, Salem), Lone Gull 10K (Sept. 14, Gloucester), the Fall Frolic 5K (Oct. 5, Beverly) and the Wild Turkey 5-Mile Run (Nov. 27, Salem).
Finishers of all eight races will receive a Brooks running jacket, and those who finish seven will receive a commemorative tech shirt.
The series came together recently on the heels of another successful race series, said Dave Menosky, owner of New England Running Company.
“We’re just finishing up with our fourth annual North Shore Trail Series with resounding success, so it only made sense to start a road series,” he noted. “Brooks has been a wonderful sponsor at quite a few of the North Shore road races and we felt it was time to get them more exposure. Doug Bollen and I have long been proponents of starting this series and we were finally able to convince Brooks to help with the marketing of the series.
“I’ve long felt that some of the local races were ‘hidden gems’ and with the exposure of being part of the series, I’m hopeful to see their numbers increase.”
Menosky said the goal of the series is to promote running and highlight the scenic race courses on the North Shore. “Part of the allure with picking these eight races is due to the proximity to the ocean and rugged coastline,” he said. “We’re blessed in this area to live so close to the ocean. I grew up land-locked in Ohio and most of the courses I raced were somewhat boring. Not that many runners are worrying about looking at the water while they’re racing, but the scenic nature of these courses is sometimes taken for granted.”
Another objective of the series was to pick eight races that are diverse in distance and also offer their proceeds to worthy charities, said Menosky.
The new race introduces a different distance to the North Shore,” said Bollen, chief of operations at the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Salem, who teamed up with Menosky to launch the new series.
“In developing the 10-mile race, we wanted one longer challenging race in the series. We thought a 10-miler would be a great distance. The only other 10-miler on the North Shore is in Newburyport.”
It’s unclear what this new series will mean for the future of the Salem Race Series, which was started by Bollen six years ago when he worked at the Salem Park, Recreation and Community Services department. Two of the Brooks series races next year were part of the Salem series this year (Frosty Four and Wild Turkey), so it remains to be seen whether that series continues.
The Brooks series will start during a period when the North Shore is jam-packed with races. Although some races continue to grow, others are feeling the pinch of a saturated market.
“As far as the running scene on the North Shore goes, I was surprised last year as I expected many races to level off in growth and some races would end that haven’t drawn well, (but) the Wild Turkey grew as well as the Frosty Four and the new Festivus 5K in Salem had great numbers for a new race,” Bollen said.
“However, recently I saw a drop in some local races, but I think it might be because there are just so many choices due to so many new races starting up. I think the number of runners is growing, but runners have a lot of choices of races. They also are choosing different types of races like Spartan runs, trail races, tough mudders, etc.
“I think the races with the smaller entries will go away,” Bollen added. “There are just too many races on the calendar for all to be successful and turn a profit.”
Menosky opened New England Running Company in 2003 and has seen much change in that time.
“I feel like we came in at a time when the North Shore running market was underserved without having a run-specialty store. It has been rewarding to see the steady growth of running in this area and seeing new running clubs (including Wicked Running Club) created and prospering,” he said.
“Also taking into consideration the state of the economy these past five years, I marvel at how running only continued to grow during this period of economic stagnation not only in this area, but nationally also. You can almost say that running is recession-proof.”
Still, we may see some events drop off the calendar.
“The good races are those with great race directors and they will always continue to grow as long as their entry fees stay in check. There are almost too many races at this point, with some attrition expected in the next few years,” Menosky said. “Some weekends have 5-to-6-plus races fighting for the same customer, so that unfortunately dilutes the pool of runners for a specific race.
“There are a lot of novelty races that have developed and we are already starting to see many of them fold, not just in New England but across the country. While many of them are fun and challenging, entry fees that sometimes exceed $100 for a 10-miler seem to force a natural limit on the field.”
There is no fee to run the series (other than the individual race registration fees). Series entry forms can be picked up at New England Running Company or by emailing Bollen at email@example.com.
On the Run is a biweekly column about the North Shore running scene. Send any questions, comments, or news to firstname.lastname@example.org.
UPCOMING RACES Saturday, Nov. 2 Goodness Gracious 5K Run for Rescue, Chandler Hovey Park, Lighthouse Lane, Marblehead, noon. A fun 5K run/walk for charity, with or without your dog. Contact: Cindy Gingrich (Goodness Gracious Run for Rescue) at email@example.com. Fourth annual Rotary Run The Heater 5K & Kids Fun Run, Manchester-Essex Regional High School, 36 Lincoln St., Manchester, 9:15 a.m. Contact: Matt Casparius (Manchester Parks and Recreation) at 1-978-526-2019 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Wednesday, Nov. 6 Danvers 5K Fun Run, Sweet William's Garden Center, 141 Pine St., Danvers, 7 p.m. Free, timed run. All welcome. These events are part of a weekly 52-race series. E-mail email@example.com. Thursday, Nov. 7 No Rest for the Wicked Weekly 5K-ish, Salem Common, Salem, 6:45 p.m. Free 3.2-mile run. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Saturday, Nov. 9 1st Annual Essex County Elementary School XC Invitational, Gannon Golf Course, 60 Great Woods Road, Lynn, 10 a.m. Grades 1-3 (0.7 mi), Grades 1-5 (1.2 mi). Contact: Joseph Abelon (Lynn Parks and Recreation) at 1-781-593-6562 or email@example.com. Miles for Mary 5K, Marblehead Neck, Devereux Beach, Marblehead, 10 a.m. Contact: William Park at 1-617-755-9507 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Turkey Tune Up 5K, Great Neck Playground, 130 Little Neck Road, Ipswich, 10 a.m. 5K road race around scenic Great Neck along the ocean, 5K fun walk, kids race. Contact: Peter Lucas (Association of Great Neck) at 1-978-356-9100 or email@example.com. Sunday, Nov. 10 4th Annual North Shore Cancer RUN 5K/10K, Cove Community Center, 19 East Corning St., Beverly, 8 a.m. Both routes are along the scenic Beverly coast and are out and back courses. Contact: Meg Wright (North Shore Cancer RUN) at 1-866-296-6900 or firstname.lastname@example.org. R11A 5K Run and Walk, St. Johns Prep, 72 Spring St., Danvers, 9 a.m. Event in honor of Rich Angelo. Cash prizes to top 5 runners, tech shirts, awards. Visit http://r11a5k.com or contact Ashley Steeves (BNS EVENT MANAGEMENT) at 1-978-836-0271 or email@example.com. Wednesday, Nov. 13 Danvers 5K Fun Run, Sweet William's Garden Center, 141 Pine St., Danvers, 7 p.m. Free, timed run. All welcome. These events are part of a weekly 52-race series. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Thursday, Nov. 14 No Rest for the Wicked Weekly 5K-ish, Salem Common, Salem, 6:45 p.m. Free 3.2-mile run. Contact email@example.com.