I remember playing Monson in high school athletics but didn’t really remember much about the town when I signed up for the Monson Memorial Classic. The race director noted that the race course has been called by past runners one of the most brutal half-marathon courses they have done but I figured how bad could it really be. A couple hills, nothing. A few rolling hills, I got this.
Let me warn you now. The Monson Memorial Classic Half-Marathon course is no joke! But you need to sign up for this race next year.
The race kicked off at noon on Sunday morning in front of the Monson Memorial Town Hall, a sort of idyllic, New England town hall complete with a statue of a soldier on the building and adorned inside with a large stage and hardwood floors. Race day proved to be chilly with temperatures in the upper 30’s and with a little bit of some wind that was far worse on Saturday still lingering in the region.
Located outside of Sturbridge, Massachusetts, Monson is a rural central Massachusetts town complete with a quaint downtown area, farm land and oh, by the way, a whole lot of hills! The race course features some rather intense uphill climbing for just about the entire race it seems. The first 8 miles or so were noticably uphill and it seemed at times that we were climbing for almost the entire way. Even on the somewhat flat portions of the race, they were few and far between and the hills definitely took a toll on the calves along the way. Around the mile 9 mark there was a nice little downhill stretch and then around mile 11 you were greeted with another downhill portion, as well, but overall the hills trended far more upward than they did downward.
On the race course, volunteers had water stops about every two miles and there was plenty of water for all runners. It would have been good to have at least one or two sport drink stops mixed into the course but the volunteers at each of the water stops were all amazing and cheered runners along.
Heading into the finish line, an American flag in front of Monson Memorial Town Hall waved in the air, a perfect tribute on Veterans’ Day weekend.
Inside the Town Hall after the race, a folk band played live music while volunteers handed out warm food to help runners warm up after tackling the run. A huge assortment of pastas, soups, apples, cider, hot dogs and more greeted runners and there was plenty of food to go around! One of the finest post-race spreads you will find.
The Monson Memorial Classic Half-Marathon course was a really challenging course but a nice course at the same time. The course was probably made better simply by the fall colors that sort of enveloped the hills and the run all in all was a really good one. Long-sleeve tech-shirts for the runners and a post-race medal added to the benefits of this run so if you are looking for a 2019 fall half-marathon look no further than the Monson Memorial Classic.
I finished the half-marathon with a time of 2:16:57, or 10:26/miles. Though this time was nowhere near my best running, the challenge of the course coupled with a lack of long run training recently added some complexity to the running but I was happy to finish the race and add another half-marathon to the books!
The Monson Memorial Classic road race was started in 1996, shortly after the deaths of Kelly Waldron and Kathy Waldron Perry. These sisters died eight months apart from different types of cancer. Kathy suffered with melanoma, and Kelly had breast, bone, and liver cancer. They were wonderful, loving people. This race is in their memory, and past proceeds have gone to American Cancer Association of Western Mass, American Lung Association, Quaboag Valley Hospice, and the Make-A-Wish Foundation. This year the race gave all proceeds to Griffin’s Friends.