Coastal views and panoramic scenery for miles

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From historic mansions to waterfront views, this Rhode Island race had everything including the most scenic and stunning coastal views of any half marathon I have ever run.

This race has been on my bucket list for a few years.

Having just run the Hartford Half Marathon in Connecticut earlier this morning, I drove a few hours and made my way across the bridge and into Newport, Rhode Island, aka “City by the Sea.” to run back-to-back half marathons. For perspective, there are about 25,000 residents living in the city and everything about the area feels welcoming.

Driving across the Claiborne Pell Newport Bridge, I navigated around the beautiful seaside city which is famous for its coastal views, mansions, seafood, sailboats, shopping, and one of the most thrilling races in this 50 half marathon 50 state journey to date.

Rise and shine for the early Newport Half Marathon!

Temperature was a chilly 39 degrees, but this was our backdrop at the start line

1. Wake up: 4:15 am (yes, you read that correctly)
2. Pre-race routine 4:15-4:45 am
3. Drive at 5:00 am to secure a parking spot in the designated lot (suggested by race organizer)
4. Sit in car from 5:00-5:45 am (my suggestion: arrive at 5:30 am and save yourself 30 mins of sleep)
5. Hop on shuttle to start line (10 mins)
6. Try to stay warm from 6:00-7:30 am (we were able to stay inside an empty building, but it was not ideal)

Miles 1-4: Oceans views, cliff walk, neighborhood supporters, and rounding the bend

The energy is palpable at the start line. I, along with 3,000+ runners were extremely hyped up because there were clear skies ahead along with a forecast of rising temperatures throughout the morning. I was motivated and ready to run around the this coastal gem of a location in the “Little Rhody” state.

I began my 13.1 mile journey by sprinting the first half mile on Memorial boulevard while feeling the breeze from the ocean and listening to the waves softly crashing against the sand. What an incredibly soothing experience to kick-off a race!

As I ran up the hill, I passed by the famous Cliff Walk (a must walk when not running a half marathon) and rounded the corner making my way to Thames Street. The next two miles looped runners through a variety of different neighborhoods. People greeted us with with an abundance cheering all while sipping their hot chocolate, coffee, and no doubt, a few adult beverages mixed in. People that live on/near the water take tremendous pride in highlighting their area and it was wonderful to see such a high level of energy coming from the locals.

When I passed the mile three marker, I was exposed to a marvelous view of the harbor area filled with boats of all sizes moored to buoys floating in the water.

Sometimes you need to stop and soak in the atmosphere

After pausing shortly to take in this area, I began running uphill into mile four. Around this bend, was the iconic Ocean Avenue, the Crown Jewel stretch of the course.

Miles 5 – 9: Mesmerized by the views and route on Ocean Avenue

I’ve never seen anything like these 3.5 miles on a half marathon course. From the moment I rounded the corner and stepped onto Ocean Avenue, my senses became over-stimulated by the stunning seaside homes overlooking the ocean, the winding streets weaving as far as my eyes could see, and the pure serenity and scope of the ocean water smashing against the massive cliffs. It was honestly pure bliss and absolutely breathtaking to run!

The joy of running in this moment was so uplifting due to the panoramic views around each and every bend. I am confident this stretch of road took me an hour to run because I repeatedly stopped to soak in these priceless views, capture a ton of video, and snap way too many pictures. Nevertheless, it was worth every ticking minute!

Miles 7-8: epic coastal views

As the winding road continued, there was a memorable stretch from miles eight to nine that had non-stop (literally every 50 feet) creative signage.

Here are a few examples:
– “Run like Maury Povich just said you are the father!
– “You could have chosen chess”
– “5 to 1 you hurt before this is over”
– “My mom runs faster than your mom”
– “Staying up making these signs was hard work too”

Miles 9 -12: Mansion after Mansion

There was nothing that would realistically live up to the scenery of running on Ocean Avenue; however, the next three miles turned onto the world-famous Bellevue Avenue and right past historic mansions such as Rough Point, Marble House and Rosecliff.

As I ran past each of these mansions (and many others in between), hundreds of people were lined up to visit each home. This became a light-hearted moment, because most of them looked cold and were ready to take their tours, yet they began cheering us on. Any support as a runner, planned or otherwise, is always welcomed.

The Marble House

One of the redeeming parts of this race during this part of the route was the shade! Since these mansions were located in such exclusive areas, I had plenty of cover from the sun which was reflecting off the water and taking a semi unexpected toll on my body at this point in time.

The Homestretch: Miles 12-13.1

The final 1.1 miles looped me back to Memorial Boulevard where I was able to run downhill and parallel to the ocean one last time. The temperature had risen to 50-degrees and I was galvanized to cross that finish line. At 2:38:09, I completed my 29th half marathon in my 29th different state!

I was so relaxed and tired after I took this picture that I closed my eyes and took a 5 minute power nap!
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Final Takeaways:

  • NO PARKING at start/finish area – I was unable to reserve a place to stay within walking distance. If you reserve your location way in advance, yes it will cost your more money, but it might very well make-up for it by being able to sleep in until 7:00 pm!
  • Time Limit – 3 hour and 30 minutes
  • Cliff Walk – worth taking your time to walk the 3.5 path. This walk was designated as a National Recreation Trail, the 65th in the nation and the first in New England.
  • The People – I can genuinely say the locals in Newport are so welcoming and friendly. They truly want you to experience this area to the fullest. This is one of the friendliest spots I’ve visited in my journey across the USA.
  • Sample the seafood at Bowen’s Wharf – this area is booming and proudly highlights some of the freshest seafood you will ever eat (not just on the coast, but in our country). Pro Tip: take a few hours to casually walk around the wharf and hop in and out of the local boutique shops, art galleries, restaurants, and bars. Every single person will welcome you with a smile and open arms.
A hodgepodge of yummy food from the Black Pearl restaurant
  • The Bling -I love the fact that it spins on the front

Special thanks to the Newport Marathon team for bringing attention to our cause! Not only did they share our story, BUT their title sponsor, Amica, awarded $1,000 on behalf of 10 randomly chosen runners who ran in support of a charity. And guess what!? Run4Papa was 1 of 10 winners!

”We are proud to sponsor the Amica Newport Marathon and Half Marathon, and support the fundraising efforts of participants like Jason,” said Nicole Bailey, Corporate Social Responsibility and Events Manager.

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