Run for fun: Hampton races offer flat courses, beer and more

Since it started, the annual Hampton Half Marathon and 5K have been a hit, and this year, the 13th, is no exception. The event, happening Sunday, March 8, and the 5K is already sold out (don’t worry, there’s another 5K the following weekend in Hampton; see box below).

This year, Arlon A. Chaffee, co-founder of Loco Sports, estimates over 1,100 runners will line up at the starting line.

“Turnout has never been an issue. Since we’ve introduced it, it has grown, and for the most part has sold out,” he said.

The Hampton Half Marathon and 5K begin at 10 a.m. with packet pickup beginning at 8 a.m. at the Ashworth by the Sea hotel. Chaffee advises runners to get there early to ensure that they have enough time to park, get their packet and prepare for the race. Parking is free and will be available at any of the state park beach lots near the hotel.

While the two races are completely separate from one another, they both begin and end at the Ashworth by the Sea hotel. The 5K course is made up out of part of the half marathon course, stretching along the scenic Ocean Boulevard, a section inland and a finish along the ocean, rounding back to the start.

“We find it’s a really good early-season test,” Chaffee said. “It’s a relatively flat course and if someone signs up for the half with all the best intentions and realizes halfway into the race that they can’t do it, they can always just run the 5K course.”

With the growing popularity of the event and concerns about runner safety, the decision a few years back to move it from February to March has proved to be instrumental in creating an overall better environment for runners.
“After one year with true winter weather, we decided it was in our best interest to push it back one month,” he said. “In general, we have had good weather since and the move has increased our chances of having better weather for it.”

As runners cross the finish line at Ashworth, they are invited to enjoy complimentary cups of minestrone and chicken noodle soup, craft beer from Smuttynose, yogurt from Stonyfield and granola bars from CLIF Bar.

There is also a charity component that goes along with the race, where racers can choose a charity of their choice or Loco Sports’ current cause, Girls on the Run NH, as well as a canned food drive where racers and spectators alike can bring goods.

“We direct people to Girls on the Run and other civic and civil groups,” he said. “They have supported us since our first race in 2007, with water stops and things along those lines. If you’re looking to run for a charity, that’s the one we recommend.”

The Hampton Rotary club manages the canned food drive and disperses the items to five local pantries. Loco Sports also provides some financial support following the race to further give back to pantries.

As spring nears closer, Loco Sports has plenty more races for all levels of runners: the Great Bay Half and 5K in Newmarket in April, the Margarita Half and 5K in Portsmouth in May and both the Smuttynose Will Run for Beer 5K in Hampton and the What Moves You 5K in Exeter in June.

— Chad Ripley

Hampton Half Marathon & 5k
Where: Ashworth by the Sea Hotel, 295 Ocean Blvd., Hampton
When: Sunday, March 8, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Cost: $79 (only half still available)
More info: hamptonhalf.com, or locorunning.com for more upcoming races

Clover Run 5K
Saint Patrick Academy, in partnership with Smuttynose Brewery, will be hosting the seventh annual Clover Run 5K on Saturday, March 14, at 10:30 a.m., at Smuttynose in Hampton. This will be a family-friendly and canine-friendly event with lots to offer participants of all ages. The event will include a 5K road race, a kids fun run, beer, food and lots more! Run in your best St. Patrick’s day attire and win a prize! The cost is $25 for adults and $20 for kids under 18. Register at lightboxreg.com.

Photo by Joseph Lee Photography.