We love our Volunteers!

It seems like my July post is generally about our volunteers.  We are a bit over half way through our season and I am always so grateful at this point in the year to our strong volunteer corp and those groups that we can really rely on throughout the race season – and how difficult it can be when a ball is dropped.

With a small race day staff, and an even smaller FT staff, our volunteer groups are our Faces of the Rhode Races that you interact with the most on your race day – and they can make or break our race.  It can be tough to find good ones – groups that will show up (most importantly!!!), stay for the entire time, be consistently encouraging and supportive from the first runner to the last, and will clean up the course to our standards.  These all seem like small things, but finding these groups has been our biggest challenge.  We receive plenty of good intentions and offers to help, but sometimes the execution doesn’t happen the way it should.  short arms cooldrink

The volunteers on race day can often have a tougher day than the runners.  They have to stand in the weather elements – extreme heat or cold and rain without the ability to run to get warm.  They arrive well before our first runner and stay until the last.  And they have to be happy and supportive throughout the duration!  🙂

There are those groups that we can consistently count on – our “A team” of volunteers.  For example, our Bristol race was our entire A-Team!  The Rhode Island Rhode Runners are our biggest asset.  Not only do they provide the best LOCAL pace team around, but they man many of our aid stations.   At their core, they are built to support running in the state so many of our participants have become members and many members run our races.  This creates a bigger running community, and we are all better for it as that is our ultimate goal.  Nels Johnson does an incredible job managing all of our pace team leaders and the aid station captains of Mary Ann Donato, Cee Vallee, MaryAnn Donato and Pat Lachance are infinitely organized.

volunteers.JPGBut there are two more groups that are our most valuable – Portsmouth High School XC/Track & Field and Mt Hope HS Lacrosse.  These two groups often take multiple volunteer spots, ALWAYS show up with the right amount of volunteers, stay to the bitter end, and we can always count on them.  These groups are lead by Shawn Horgan of Portsmouth and Jay Spina of Mt Hope – these coaches are dedicated to their team, their athletes and to us.  We are grateful to have them in our lives and we thank them.

We all know the value of great volunteers and they can certainly make or break our race day.  We recognize we have had a few issues with volunteer groups this year, and it has caused some problems.  We will continue to develop a high caliber of groups that we can consistently rely on for our race day needs.  In order to continue to foster a great volunteer corp and provide you with a top notch race day, we ask that our participants are also respectful racers.  Here are some tips –

  • Finish within the allotted course time and/or request an early start.
  • Drop cups/gel packets/trash as close to an aid station as possible or at mile markers and signs so we can see it and clean it up at the end of the race.
  • Thank our volunteers or let them know politely what you are in need of

And if you know of any super fun but RELIABLE volunteer groups looking to earn some money – send them our way!!!!

lax aid station


Pawtucket, RI is looking to prohibit all road races on city streets

The City Council of Pawtucket will be voting next week to ban all road races, unless they take place in their City Park.  This ban includes all races, no matter how long or who is involved.  This vote seems to be happening without many of the Pawtucket residents knowing anything about it.

Pawtucket hosts a number of wonderful road races each year – or at least, they did.  The Blackstone Valley Half was a well attended event for nearly 10 years, the St. Patrick’s 5k is their biggest, and the beloved PawSox have their own race that begins and ends in their historic ballpark.  There are many other smaller races that also will be constrained to the limits of the City Park, or will just go away entirely.

Road races do cause some traffic delays and can be an inconvenience to those local residents.  Most Race Directors work closely with their local municipalities to minimize the disruption with careful route planning and advance notice to residents.  And yes, we have seen an increase in the number of road races that occur each year.  But that number is on the decline.  As mentioned above, Pawtucket no longer hosts any half marathons or longer, Providence only hosts one event longer than a 5k.  Other races are falling by the wayside as well due to increased costs, competition and municipality regulations.

If this ordinance passes, it may set a precedent for other “inconveniences.”  The benefits from road races far outweigh a few extra minutes to your commute.  The money raised for charity, the economic benefit are all in the thousands.  The promotion of a healthy lifestyle, where you accomplish some life long goals, the community and sense of pride from showcasing your locality.  These are all non-monetary benefits as well.

Everyone has a reason for toeing the line, has their story which caused them to sign up and train – often for months, in the cold and dark.  Running a marathon or hweb-sized-promo-146alf marathon is no easy task – and everyone has their reason why.  Perhaps you just beat cancer and you want to celebrate your newfound health, you are looking to test your courage and sense of self with a longer distance, maybe you are running for someone who no longer can, or enjoying a great bonding experience with a friend or family member.  As race directors, we get to hear some AMAZING stories as to your reasons why – we are inspired by so many of you.  We truly believe that the happiest place on earth is the finish line as so many goals and dreams are achieved there.

But yes, the chasing of these goals and dreams may affect others in their path.  There are still times when residents may have a delay due to something out of the ordinary happening in their normal travel – this can include construction, funerals, parades, festivals and road races.

869f3-web-sized-promo-119In our modern times, we have become so rushed and focused on getting it all done, that we forget that there are inconveniences in life that slow us down and take us off our course.  Particularly those for the better of our community as a whole – events, construction, parades and races.  It is par for being part of a larger community.  There was even a recent study that traffic delays caused by marathons save lives.  🙂

There are certain protocols that can be put in place to ensure residents are given ample notice of the race and to work around any delays that may occur.  There are compromises to be struck with some of the existing races, for example, if you would like to keep a cap on the number of events the city will hold – sort of like a limit on the number of liquor licenses, etc.  There are ways to work through the inconvenience rather than just a blanket ban on all races.

Yes – some changes likely can be made on both ends – but working towards a solution for residents and runners can be found.

Feel free to write the Council Members of Pawtucket and let them know how your feel about this ordinance.  Contact information is available on their website – http://www.pawtucketri.com/city-council

Race Day Bib Pick Up

We often say that race directing is like throwing a lot of balls up in the air and hoping to catch them all them at the same time – but that rarely happens.  We catch a lot – but no race goes off without a hitch. No matter how many contingencies we try to plan for, there is always something unexpected that goes awry.  But we learn at every event, take lots of notes, ask for feedback – and work to fix any issues in the following year.

At last year’s Providence race, we had an unprecedented number of people picking up their bib on race morning – nearly half the participant field, and we just were not able to move through everyone fast enough.  We definitely dropped that ball.  We have made a number of changes on the back end in hopes of alleviating that same issue from occurring again this year.

The biggest front-facing change is that we are limiting in advance the number of participants that can pick up their bib.  While many larger races eliminate race day bib pick up altogether, we know that is not an option for many.  There will be a premium for those that need to pick up race day, that is to encourage the majority of the participants to pick up their bib in advance.   This policy has been enacted to provide a smooth race day and an on time start for all of our participants.

If you cannot get to the Omni on Friday or Saturday, you are welcome to send a friend or family member in your stead.  You just need to provide a signed note and a copy of your ID.  We will keep the note, but you can have the copy of your ID back.

So please plan on picking up your bib at the Omni on Friday from 1-7pm or Saturday from 11am to 5pm.  There will be NO race day bib pick up unless that option was reserved during your registration steps.

We appreciate your understanding and patience on this new policy.  We know we needed to change things for this year and we hope to have learned from our mistakes.  It is our hope to provide a smooth and relaxing race day experience for all our participants.

Spring is in the air (?)

Like many of you are probably feeling, this winter is starting to wear thin.  We have training runs on the calendar, races on the horizon – it is time for green grass and Spring jackets!  The daffodils were popping up and then were buried under a foot of snow!  But Cliff Walk shotnevertheless – this is New England. And even though winter is getting a bit long in the tooth, it is still beautiful and we love running here.  There is quiet beauty around every corner and bend so we continue to run and enjoy nature’s majesty.

As we have run and trained through the dark of winter for those Spring races, each run has been a test of our mental strength – strength we will need to pull from in the long last miles of the race.  Those tough miles will be worth it when you are ready to toe that line, to cross under that finishing arch.  Much like nature is doing its work beneath the bathhouse runsurface in winter for its amazing Spring time awakening, your winter miles are growing your roots for your first race of the year.  All that work beneath the surface will come to fruition in the Spring and you will burst through with sunshine and color!  (At least, that is the plan!)

And like your winter training, we have been busy in the off season, cultivating our relationships with our vendors and partners, tending to our operational plans and itching to burst forth into the Spring time.  We continue to tweak our event plans, doing research on what you all want from us and how we can best meet your goals as a runner. We have reviewed the year end surveys and made some decisions based on your responses, to see what works best for all involved.

So we are ready – ready to race through the daffodils in Newport.  Ready to set some PRs, ready to Spring forth!

Who is with us?

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Tufts Health Plan to Sponsor the Rhode Races Half Marathon Series and the RI Corporate Fit Challenge

Rhode Races & Events is excited to announce Tufts Health Plan as the Official Presenting Sponsor of the 2018 Rhode Races Half Marathon Series and The Corporate Fit Challenge. Tufts Health Plan is a leading regional not-for-profit health insurer recognized for its commitment to providing innovative, high-quality health care coverage.

“We are honored to have Tufts Health Plan as part of our running community,” said Susan Rancourt, co-owner of Rhode Races. “As I member, I know first hand that Tufts Health Plan’s mission of improving the health and wellness of its diverse communities is a natural fit for Rhode Races. Together, we can get more people moving and inspired to run so that they can accomplish their fitness goals.”

Tufts Health Plan is sponsoring the five half marathons that comprise the Rhode Race Series. In addition, Tufts Health Plan will work with Rhode Races on its Corporate Fit Challenge, with the goal of encouraging more worksite wellness and helping Rhode Island become one of the healthiest states in the nation. This Corporate Fit Challenge is a year-long fitness effort, encouraging companies and their employees to participate in a variety of races, all in different locations, with distances for every type of runner.

“We know first-hand the benefits a worksite wellness program can bring to local businesses. Not only does it improve the health of their employees, but can also lead to higher productivity and presenteeism for employers,” said Marc Backon, president of Tufts Health Plan commercial products. “We are thrilled to collaborate with Rhode Races on their half marathon series as well as The Corporate Fit Challenge and support Rhode Islanders live a healthy lifestyle.”

The Rhode Races Series kicks off with the Newport Road Race at Easton’s Beach on Saturday, April 14, 2018.   Rhode Race’s flagship race will take place in Providence in May. Both races offer a full USATF certified marathon, half marathon and 5k distance, appealing to both casual and competitive runners. The series continues with the Bristol Half Marathon in June, Jamestown Half Marathon in September, and Narragansett full marathon, half marathon and 5K in October.

To learn more or sign up, visit http://runri.us/.


About Rhode Races & Events

Iconic races, authentic experiences

At Rhode Races & Events, a Rhode Island Benefit Corporation, we are seasoned sports event professionals. We believe in creating events that allow our participants to create life long memories and achieve long-term goals. Additionally, these events will allow potential sponsors compelling marketing objectives as well as fundraising opportunities for charities and non-profits. Please visit http://www.RunRI.us for more information.


About Tufts Health Plan

Tufts Health Plan is nationally recognized for its commitment to providing innovative, high-quality health care coverage.  Staying true to our mission of improving the health and wellness of the diverse communities we serve, we touch the lives of more than 1.1 million members in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New Hampshire through employer-sponsored plans; Medicare; Medicaid and Marketplace plans, offering health insurance coverage across the life span regardless of age or circumstance.


We are continually among the top health plans in the country based on quality and member satisfaction:

  • Our private HMO and Massachusetts PPO plans are rated 5 out of 5 and our Massachusetts Medicaid plan is rated 4.5 out of 5 by the National Committee for Quality Assurance.[i]
  • Our Tufts Medicare Preferred HMO and Senior Care Options plans received a 5-star rating from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the highest rating possible.[ii]


To learn more about how we’re redefining what a health plan can do, visit tuftshealthplan.com/connections. Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn.

[i] The National Committee for Quality Assurance Private Health Insurance Plan Ratings and Medicaid Health Insurance Ratings 2017-2018. This rating references Tufts Health Plan’s Massachusetts Medicaid plan. Tufts Health Plan’s Rhode Island Medicaid plan has not yet been rated.

[ii] Medicare evaluates plans based on a 5-Star rating system. Star Ratings are calculated each year and may change from one year to the next. For more information on plan ratings, go to http://www.medicare.gov. Tufts Medicare Preferred HMO plans received 5 out of 5 stars for contract years 2016 -2018.

Winter Running

This winter has been particularly difficult for running (although we may say that every year).  Record cold, snow bombs, ice – Mother Nature is giving us lots of reasons to stay inside.  fullsizeoutput_5acc

But for some of us – the weather doesn’t stop us, not running outside is not an option.  Whether you are training for a spring marathon, streaking (run streaking, not naked streaking – that would be crazy in this weather) or just trying to keep up with your NY’s resolution, you just layer up and head outside.  For the most twisted – the rougher the weather, the more we embrace the badass-ness.

Personally – I LOVE winter running!  Give me a 30 degree snowy day any time and I will take it over any August morning with 90% humidity.  I love the way the cold makes you feel alive, the clean fresh air, the way everything is so peaceful and quiet.  You can always get warm in your winter running but you can never get cooler in your summer runs.  Last winter, I was injured and couldn’t run outside and it was KILLING me.  My PT kept telling me how I would be ready to go just as the weather was going to improve but every time it snowed and I couldn’t be out there in it, I was heartbroken. When it snows, every thing in nature seems so pristine and white, and it is almost as if it provides an insulating layer.

The first few minutes can be tough – the shock of the cold air as it hits your lungs, the way you are a bit stiff in the joints, how you feel a bit heavy in all your clothes – but then you warm up and you breathe in that fresh air and you notice the beauty around you.  I believe the cold actually helps you zone out a bit and allows you to focus on other things – numbs your body but heightens your brain.

For those of you training for Spring marathons – like our Newport or Providence races (!!!), it can be tough to get in those miles in winter weather – but if you embrace it, and start to appreciate the beautiful snowy days, the sharp cold days and all the days in between that can be a bit of a challenge, this will help you in the latter miles of your race.  You trained through the worst, nothing will stop you in your marathon quest! fullsizeoutput_5abb.jpeg

For those of you still looking to kick off those resolutions – it is never too late. Find a friend who will help you get out that door.  I guarantee that you will feel better running in the cold than if you skipped it and sat on the warm couch.  But a friend can help hold you accountable to that plan – you can both be crazy together.  When one of you isn’t feeling it, the other can drag you out – and vice versa.  If you need a bit of help – check out our Corporate Fitness Challenge.  Talk to your employer about starting a team and go all in together!

Enjoy winter’s beauty (but be careful out there!)


2018 Rhode Masters

We are so excited to announce our registration is open for the 2018 Rhode Races Series. We had such a phenomenal  response from this year’s Series that we are going to operate under the auspices of “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it….”

Our Rhode Masters are a very special group to us – because we get to interact with them in a number of ways, they become a close and important group to us.  Not only are they at a number of our events, but we have our private FaceBook group, more email communication, the VIP bib pick up for face to face interaction, and more.  The feedback, advice and insights from them are so important to us.  As a result, we want to treat our Rhode Masters to some extra special rewards.


So what is included in the program?  Here is a not-quite-complete list:

  • Discount when you sign up for 3 or more races at the same time.
  • Awesome Series Medal that will be awarded after completion of your first race
  • Top of the Industry BocoGear running hat exclusive to the Series, awarded after completion of your 3rd race.
  • Exclusive to the Series L/S Rhode Master shirt, awarded after completion of 4 races
  • Rhode Master Jacket for completing ALL 5 RACES!
  • VIP bib pick up at all races
  • VIP Parking in Newport (no shuttles!)
  • Reserved race day bib pick up in Providence, if you so choose
  • Private Facebook group
  • Chance to be named Rhode Master Champion in the Series Age Group Awards.

We are currently working with our medal provider, Ashworth Awards, to finalize the 2018 medal but we will providing a Series medal in a similar style to this year’s – a center Series medal “hub,” which this year will be an anchor instead of a Ship’s Wheel (because we LOVE anchors!).  The individual race medals will reflect the specific race locations again but will encircle the Series hub with a system that will not impact the individual race medals.  We have kept all the parts that people loved this past year, and improved upon certain elements to create six AWESOME medals!

Narraganset-1726.jpgIn order to be a part of the program, you must have your race registrations in the Rhode Master platform for each race to be part of these perks. If you have any questions at all as to what this means, please don’t hesitate to ask. It is always easier for us to make the adjustments in advance of the race, rather than race day.   If you registered for the races individually, we can always move them into the Rhode Master platform on the back end.


Prices increase on 12/31 so register today for the lowest prices! Click here to register.
Hope you can join us!

A Month of Thanks – Two Year Anniversary!

November is not only when we close out our racing season and start planning the next one, it is also a time of thanks AND our anniversary.  It is a time for us to reflect on what went right this year, how we can improve next year but also – to be grateful for what you, our participants, allow us to do.

Before we begin the nuts and bolts of planning the next season, it is a time of reflection; to sit and take a breath and unwind from the pace of the races.  As we have stated before, producing road races is very similar to actually running in them.  You plan out your racing strategies, you focus on your strengths, you do research and you train. But also – you ask yourself – “What are my race goals?  Why am I doing this?”

fist pump finishRunning a half marathon or marathon takes a lot of time, and it can physically hurt.  It requires a good amount of dedication – so you need to have your goals and priorities in place to put yourself, and often times your families, through this.

We recognize the sacrifices that you and your families go through to get to that finish line.  Our goal is to always give you the best race experience possible because of this dedication.  You have done the work, and we should too.  Proposal-4935

So in November, we look at “hardware” – registration pages, websites, sponsors, etc – as well as “software” – what amenities can we add, how can we improve our race day experience, what are our goals this coming season.

But mostly we are grateful – grateful that we are able to do this, happy to call so many of our participants and vendors our friends, honored that you have raced wiliz_2015th us again this year.

As a thank you – anyone that signs up for the Newport or Providence race before Thanksgiving weekend is over will receive a free sticker.  Use code “GRATEFUL” in the coupon code box for the $5 sticker to be discounted to $0.

Hope you all can join us in 2018 for YEAR 3!


13.1 Sticker


Volunteers make the race!

In order to execute a race with a small full time staff, we have to rely heavily on our strong corp of volunteers.  We know these groups and individuals are the “face” of the company that you will encounter throughout your race day, and they can make or break the race experience.  Luckily, we have some incredible groups and volunteer chairs – we receive a great many compliments about our volunteers and we feel we have some of the best people around. We are so grateful to them for giving our participants the type of race that we work all year towards. 
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We try to use the same groups from race to race for a number of reasons – they know the courses, the volunteer protocols and the standards to which we like to adhere.  Plus, we know they are happy, smiling and fun – just what a runner needs when they are fighting through the grueling miles!

There are two groups that go above and beyond that we would like to formally recognize – Portsmouth HS Cross Country, lead by Coach Shawn Horgan and Mt Hope HS Lacrosse, lead by Coach Jay Spina.  These two groups are at nearly EVERY race we execushort arms cooldrink.JPGte, often in multiple roles.  We know that if we need a spot filled, we can always count on Jay and Shawn. They are generally the first to arrive and the last to leave, they have high standards, have employed their own family members if need be and are just genuinely nice guys who surround themselves with a great team of high school students.  We know that if we need anything – we can always count on these guys to help.  We are truly in their debt.

At the Ocean State Rhode Races – we have a volunteer contest going on in celebration of Halloween being right around the corner:  The Volunteer group that is the MOST fun, as voted by our participants, will be given an additional donation to their charity.  This allows us to give back to YOU, our participants, by providing a great race experience – as well as our volunteers – who go over and above!


THANK YOU!kids and signs

Why Do You Run?

I have been coaching a Girl’s HS team and in hopes of inspiring the team – it has given me a reason to pause and look into why I run, why we run?  What is our motivation and reason for pushing ourselves in every race that we do – to get out of the comfort zone and willingly experience a bit of pain?  I asked the girls why did they join XC, why are they running – what makes them show up every day to do something potentially uncomfortable.  Their reasons at 14, 15, 16 years old are probably not that different from yours.

I started running in High School and I did it because my friends were there, to be social, to be part of a HS team.  But I did not like running, I couldn’t even run a mile at the first practice.  If you had told me then that not only would I still be running, but I have made a career as a runner (certainly not as an elite runner, but in the community) – I never would have believed it.  I am sure there are many of you that never would have thought yourselves a runner.  There might be some of you that still don’t – but you are!

fist pump finishCoaching running is less about the running skills and more about the mental tricks, tips and strategies you can use in a race.  It is about teaching mental strength and the reasons for putting yourself through the pain that is associated with running.  These are skills that we all will need at some point in life.  I talk to the team about “embracing the suck,” – how not only will it make them physically stronger but mentally as well.  When everything else around you feels a bit out of control, running is something that we can use to get back control – the pace, the route, the attitude – the feeling of success after each run.

In coaching, I often use the stories of those that are in our races and how they inspire me to run – because it is a privilege.  We get to hear these amazing stories of why people are running – they lost weight, they beat cancer, they just got out a destructive relationship – they are amazing stories.  One of our runner’s motto is “Because I can now!”  That is incredibly inspiring.

Not only does it help us stay in shape (although that is much harder than it used to be for me!) – it helps many of us stay sane.  I do my best thinking
Providence-6431when I am running – figure out some problems that have plagued me or helps me organize my thoughts and conquer some battle that is ahead.  

But sometimes it is just to be with friends, and to have that feeling of flying when you are “in the zone,” to be outside, to have that epic story, and to feel better. 

Every person has a different reason for running – what is your story?  We would love to hear them! Please share in the comments.