USATF NE 10 mile course preview
This will be the 22nd time that the Grand Prix (1985-2016) has had a 10 mile as part of the series. This will be the first time the race has been held outside of Massachusetts (Auburn, NH). It has previously been held in Newburyport (8 times), Amherst (7 times), Worcester (4 times), and Harvard (2 times).
CMS has won the team championship 11 times; BAA 7 times, GBTC has won twice and WMDP once.
Information on the race can be found on the Millennium Running website:
I previewed the course on a hot Sunday morning. It had a surprising amount of shade and although it was a bit hilly, it wasn’t quite as bad as I thought it would be. The 10 mile loop had 472’ of climb and descent. By comparison the Amherst (MA) 10 mile had 602’ and the Acton 20k (USATF 20k champs) had 588’ of climb/descent.
The race starts in the wide parking Lake Massebesic parking lot. The only left hand turn in the race takes place immediately after the start as the lot has a 90 degree turn in it (maybe 50 meters into the race). Another 50 meters and you turn right to exit the parking lot, and then stay right as you enter the traffic circle. The course stays to the right and heads Northeast on Route 121 (Manchester road). For the first 8/10ths of a mile the road has a very large breakdown lane. There are no real hills in the first mile. Note that all runners must stay to the right of the yellow lines on the road (no crossing the centerline). There only one or two spots where you might be tempted to “run the tangent”, DON’T.
From the mile to 1.4 the course is right along the shores of the Lake. No doubt it is a scenic course, but I’m much more focused on who is up ahead. As you move away from the Lake you hit the first hill, a nasty little bump that climbs 61’ from 250’ to 311’ in 2/10ths of a mile (average grade = 5.7%). The course drops down 25’ as you roll to the 2 mile mark.
Right after the 2 mile mark you hit a short hill of 33’ in 1/10th of a mile (6.3%). From that point on you drop 70’ over 9/10ths of a mile. The 3 mile mark is in Auburn center where you turn right onto Chester Rd (which is also route 121). Most of the next mile is dead flat. From 3.4 to 3.75 you are again along the scenic shores of Lake Massebesic. As you leave the Lakeshore the longest climb of the day starts. Over 1.7 miles you climb from 250’ to 425’. The steepest part of the climb is in the first .3 (3.8 to 4.1 miles climbs 100’ = 6.3% grade) as you traverse the shoulders of Mine Hill which is the highest point in Auburn (and has the ruins of a fire tower on top). The climb continues but it a lot gentler from 4 miles through 4.8. There is a minor downhill as you head into 5 miles and turn right onto Wilson’s Crossing Rd.
There is a 40’ climb from 5 miles to 5.4 followed by a 60’ gentle descent to the 6 mile mark after the turn onto Spofford road. This is the quietest road on the course and the downhill continues to 6.2 miles with another 105’ of downhill (I got up to 35 MPH on my Go! on this downhill). From 6.2 to 6.8 you climb 130’ (4% grade although not the toughest grade on the course the length and sustained climbing may make this the toughest of the course) and then drop 20’ as you reach the 7 mile mark.
From 7 miles to 7.3 the drop continues (60’) as you take a slight right onto Audubon Way. There is a .15 out/back section on Audubon Way where you will get to see if anyone is close behind you. Of course anyone within a ¼ mile in FRONT of you will also get the chance to see where you are. You drop another 45’ from 7.6 to the 8 mile mark which is near the turn onto Route 28.
The course is flat from 8 to 8.5 miles before you hit the final hill of the day. 8.5 to 8.9 miles climbs 105’, this hill will hurt even though it is “only” a 5% grade. You top out at 357’ just before the 9 mile mark. The final mile should be fast if you have anything left. The first ½ mile drops 100’ and after that it is flat to the finish. With a quarter mile to go you will pass the finish line (on your right) as you continue to the parking lot entrance, two right turns later brings you to the finish line.