Frank Nealon 15K Recap

Frank Nealon Boston Tune-Up 15k

Race Location: Upton, MA

Race Date: Saturday, March 30, 2019

Race Managed/Timed By: presented by Tri-Valley Front Runners and timed by BayState Race Services

Organization of Bib Pick Up: There was bib pick up as well as race registration available on Friday night at Start Line Brewing in Hopkinton, MA  from 4-7pm. Race day bib pick up and registration started at 8am at Nipmuc High where the race starts and finishes.

Organization of Race: The race is sponsored by the Tri-Valley Front Runners, a running club based in MA. Needless to say, the race is very well organized! 2019 was the race’s 39th year. There is usually a large, fast, and competitive field as it’s used as a tune-up race before the Boston Marathon. This year it was also part of the USATF Grand Prix Race Series which also tends to draw some amazing runners. Registration/bib pick up was easy and quick in the gym of the high school. Plenty of parking at the HS and the technical school across the street. You can use facilities inside the school and there were also porta potties outside. You can also use the locker rooms and take a shower after the race if you desire. The race is chip timed.

Course Description:  The course is USATF certified and runs through the quiet rolling hills and back roads of Upton, MA. The race starts at 10am which means there’s a decent chance of nice Spring weather (but the race was also cancelled two years ago due to a snowstorm, so you never know what you will get!). This year the race started as partly cloudy but the sun came out in full force by the end. Many of the back roads are shady but there are also sections of main open road that offered no shade but since it’s not hot at the end of March, it’s welcomed. The race starts in front of the high school on Pleasant St at a slight incline but evens out fairly quickly. It continues on Pleasant St but by the end of Mile 1 you’re heading downhill onto a quieter back road. Mile 2 has some easy rolling hills and it’s at the end of this mile that you begin ascending the hardest part of the course. Mile 3 is probably one of the hardest miles of the course as it starts up hill and continues into some rollers, but does finish on a nice long down hill which is where you hit Mile 4. This mile is mostly flat but starts to climb in elevation at the end and rolls through two smaller hills that bring you to Mile 6. The sixth mile is pretty flat until the end where you hit a small hill that takes you through the beginning of Mile 7. Some downhill and uphill later you’re hitting Mile 8, turning onto a more main road back around Mile 7.5. One tenth into Mile 8 you begin the last climb (and 2nd highest) and crest the hill around 8.5, then it’s some downhill until it flattens out into Mile 9. The last .3 will take you to the HS and halfway around the back of it finishing near one of the entrances and not far from the start. I find going around the school is one of the hardest parts as you know you are so close! Though this course has some hills, it is mostly rolling and nothing out of the ordinary if you’re used to running in NH.  Starting elevation is about 300ft and by the end your gain is about 500ft, with max elevation at about 377ft.There was very little traffic on the roads. Water stops about every 2 miles. Volunteers at all cross roads and some random spectators outside their homes along the way. Every mile is clearly marked as well as the 5k and 10k which also have clocks. There is a track across the street at the technical school that is great for extra miles pre or post race.

Spectators/Energy: The volunteers were great as well as the energy at the water stops.

Swag: A commemorative soup mug

After Party: Pizza, dessert, coffee/tea, water, and soup all located downstairs in the cafeteria and outside the cafeteria where the awards ceremony takes place.

Other Thoughts/Comments: This was my second year doing this race. Last year I just ran it as a long run and enjoyed the scenery. This year I raced it and really enjoyed the course with its mix of rolling hills and quiet back roads. Just enough of a challenge but not too difficult in my opinion.  It certainly helped that it was about 45 degrees at the start and a beautiful day. We were able to sit outside and enjoy the sun (and soup) post race where it had reached about 60 degrees. A great race that’d I’d recommend to anyone!

Race details here: https://www.tri-valleyfrontrunners.com/tuneup/tune-up.php

Awesome course preview video: https://vimeo.com/324857911?fbclid=IwAR3HLoSy-C1qY79WS-FI-aOt0JY7-N45_OOGEV9ZBxYkCdfNJX6L0HsVwCw

Course Map: https://www.tri-valleyfrontrunners.com/images/15K-tune-up/BTU15kMap2017.pdf

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