To celebrate the 125th anniversary of this unique race (on Monday, Nov. 9), I'm repeating this previous post. To all the runners .... enjoy your pies!
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I recently read a story in a back issue of a running magazine that shed light on how running great Frank Shorter got his start in the sport. It began with a high school race for which he had not trained, since his interests in sports at that time did not include running. I contacted the school for a bit more information, and what follows is a recap of the first race in the distinguished career of the only marathon gold medal winner in U.S. Olympic history.
For more than 100 years, a small cross-country race has been contested on the banks of the Connecticut River in western Massachusetts that rewards fast finishers with a 10-inch, double-crust apple pie. It is called the Bemis-Forslund Pie Race, and is open to current students and alumni of the Northfield Mount Hermon School, along with friends and family. “All freshmen are required to run, and all coaches require their athletes to run,” says Josie E. Rigby, Associate Director of Alumni and Parent Programs.
Overall, approximately 600 runners participate each year, but not every finisher receives one of the cherished pies; Males need to navigate the 4.3 mile course in 33 minutes, while females must cross the line within 38 minutes. Male and female Masters runners are required to finish in 38 and 43 minutes, respectively, for their just desserts. According to Rigby, the pies are always apple, and are baked by Northfield Mount Hermon School Dining Services and work-job students. Indeed, students at this New England prep school have long been required to work part of each day for the school. Just ask Frank Shorter. The 1972 Olympic Marathon gold medal winner is a 1965 graduate of the school and holds the course record of 20:54 for the original 4.55-mile distance. Notably, the 1963 Pie Race was the first ever competitive footrace of Shorter’s distinguished running career; at the time he competed on the school’s football, baseball, and skiing teams.
As he told Sports Illustrated, there were about fifty runners ahead of him early in the race. He worked his way through the field and eventually finished seventh, behind only the five-man cross-country team and a cross-country skier. “That was what got me interested in running,” he says. “That and the fact I was getting my rear end kicked all over the place playing football.”
Fortunately, children aren’t left out of the festivities: those up to sixth grade are invited to run in a special Tart Race. It doesn’t matter whether they show the potential of a future Olympic hero, or if they can barely crawl across the finish; every participant is guaranteed their own apple tart just for trying.
And don't forget to check out MY BEST RACE !!