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Featured RaceBobbyBelllogo

The 30th Bobby Bell Road Race—Great Running Tradition in the Merrimack Valley – Oct 9, 2016 – Web Site

Founded in 1987, the Bobby Bell Five Miler provides a blend of old school road racing traditions with innovations, including gender grading so all compete equally.  It’s the only road race in the Merrimack Valley that has gender graded scoring.  They have a terrific post race party and buffet with adult beverages and music in a delightful atmosphere. Be there on Sunday, October 9, 2016, in historic Haverhill, Massachusetts.


The Bobby Bell Five Miler has built a loyal following over the years and here comes the 30th running.   It starts and finishes on historic Washington Street in Haverhill adjacent to the Lasting Room Bar & Grille, which hosts the memorable post race party with many awards and raffle prizes.  They provide a catered buffet with taps flowing and music playing on the banks of the Merrimack.  Traditions, yes!  Enjoyment, yes!  This one is a cut above.

You can see that some of New England’s best have raced and won here, including Buddy Bostick, Jefferson Welch, Christen Doneski and Tina Dowling.  Craig Fram of nearby Plaistow, New Hampshire holds the course record of 24:40 (1996).  http://www.yankeetiming.com/bbell/

The host Lasting Room Bar & Grille is located in the heart of the Merrimack Valley at 122 Washington Street, Haverhill, MA  01932.  This traditional pub includes a great bar and a rear deck overlooking the Merrimack River—iconic spot.BobbyBell3

Following a challenging five miles, runners look forward to the traditional catered dinner including delicious pasta, salad, hot dogs, hummus, bread, desserts, and more (raves).  Bartenders keep things moving, and a professional DJ has the place rocking. The 30th edition is October 9, 2016 starting at 11:00, preceded by the Joyce Moriarty Memorial Walk at 10:30.  Packet pick-up and late registration will be 9:00 through 10:45 a.m.  But don’t wait; save by registering early and get a T-shirt.

A Most Rewarding Race

Awards are plentiful in this race.  All runners, regardless of gender, compete in the same categories-and there are many:  19-and under, 10-year age groups through 80+, weight categories 190-210 pounds, 211-225, and 226 plus.  There’s a masters (40 weighing 190 and above) with separate divisions for police and fire.BobbyBell5

The gender grading is a simple .88 conversion, so all compete equally, and they provide many awards, including 5 for 19-under, top 12 for open runners (to 39), 10 for 40-49, 8 for 50-59, 6 for 60-69, 4 in the 70 to 79, and 3 for 80 and over.  All weight and service division awards are top three.

Plus runners have chances of getting a random raffle award; thanks to a long list of contributing sponsors.  Which makes this is a true community event.  And all proceeds go to charities.


Bobby Bell provides an enjoyable experience under the exceptional race direction of Dave LaBrode, who has guided this event for all 30 years; he’s the Founder.  From pre-race to course support and amenities with post race food and awards, Bobby Bell is exceptional:  There’s terrific organization, a fair course, a competitive history, great venue, innovative scoring, and a supportive community.

It’s a clockwise loop starting and ending on Washington Street.  Mile one is flat and very straight followed by rolling terrain and a few hills at two miles, with three and four rolling.  There are few turns and includes residential streets.  Much of mile five is down, finishing with a flat stretch along Washington Street.  It is fast; check 29 years of results.  What an enjoyable five miles and post-race gig.

The City of Haverhill

It is conveniently located along Interstate 495 on the New Hampshire border in northeastern Massachusetts, and is served by both the MBTA Commuter Rail and Amtrak’s Downeaster—both running out of Boston’s North Station.  It includes the town of Bradford.

Haverhill was founded in 1640 and was originally known as Pentucket, but was renamed Haverhill after the namesake in England.  It was incorporated as a city in 1870, one of the Valley’s typical mill towns.  Much of the city–300 businesses and dozens of homes–were destroyed in a great fire in 1872.  Still, it expanded as a manufacturing powerhouse.  They used the power of the Merrimack River for grist mills, saw mills, woolen mills, tanneries and shipbuilding.  But Haverhill was best known for shoes and hats.  Once the city produced 10% of the nation’s shoes and dominated the industry.BobbyBell1

There’s a new parking facility near Washington Street and the train station. The Lasting Room resides in an historic brick building; originally an actual “lasting room” from shoe manufacturing–lasts were used to shape shoes.  Washington Street was originally Merrimack Street; it was renamed after George Washington visited in 1789.

Run through history.  Register now for one of New England’s outstanding running experiences.  Make it a top priority on your race calendar and build traditions of your own:  http://www.yankeetiming.com/bbell/ .  We’ll see you there!