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July 11, 2013

On The Run: Bridging the 10K road race gap

Once upon a time, the 10K was a common road race distance. But in recent years it has taken a back seat to 5Ks, 5-milers and even half marathons. On the North Shore, there are only a handful of 10Ks remaining on the race calendar.

A new event making its debut next month hopes to address that deficit.

The Bridge and Back 10K is scheduled for Sunday, Aug. 4 at 8 a.m., starting at the Tavern in the Square in Salem. The course runs across the Beverly-Salem Veterans Memorial Bridge and back.

The event benefits the Boys & Girls Club of Salem, said race director Doug Bollen, who is also chief operating officer at the Boys and Girls Club.

“Although I was not looking to start a new race I noticed the lack of 10k races in the area, and many runners remember the Salem Heritage 10K, started by Rich Stafford around 1960 and lasting about 35 years, which traditionally kicked off Salem Heritage Week,” Bollen said. “10K was a popular distance back then, but after 2000 the 5Ks became more popular, most likely because they are easier to manage as a race director, more cost effective due to less course support needed, and there is a bigger pool of runners who can set a 5K race as a goal.”

Over the last decade, Bollen helped spearhead the resurgence of road races in Salem as director of the Parks, Recreation and Community Services department. Currently, he directs the Wild Turkey 5-Mile run on Thanksgiving Day — and feels the Bridge and Back will fill a need.

“While a 10K is more challenging, it fits into the North Shore race scene well, as there are so few races this distance and the course is new. Salem has a large running community, and has been designated a Road Runners Club of America Runner Friendly Community,” said Bollen.

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