This year just might be its best.
The entries are coming in at record pace for the eighth annual event, to be held on Sunday, Aug. 9 at Narragansett Pier School. Co-race director Jim Doyle expects a field of at least 800 to answer the gun for the 9 a.m. start.
The five-mile event, which will also feature a new 3K walk this year, has consistently attracted some top-level competition since its inception in 2008. That should increase substantially next month. For the first time in its history, the Bobby Doyle Summer Classic will be part of the USATF-NE Grand Prix Series and will offer more than $7,000 in prize money.
“I am excited about this being part of the USATF-NE championship series,” Doyle said. “It has certainly sparked a lot of interest. It accomplishes two things. There will be a great race going on and it attracts more competitors. We want runners of all abilities. It’s always a fun event.”
As part of the Grand Prix, awards will be given out in several different age categories, including a $150 bonus for any course records that are set. The current course marks were established last year. Ben Connor claimed the men’s crown in 24:09 and Heather Capello was first for women at 27:20. The event records are 23:39 by Ethiopia’s Abiyot Endale in 2011 and 26:14 from former Providence College great Mary Cullen in 2008. All those records are in jeopardy of falling this year.
The Bobby Doyle race was created to honor one of Rhode Island’s most prolific marathoners, who died at age 58 in 2007. It was formed to also contribute back to the running community, particularly the youth. In the past seven years, the Bobby Doyle Foundation has distributed more than $50,000 to enhance youth and high school running. It has provided multiple scholarships to high school students as well as grants to assist schools and running clubs with their needs. New this year is a Holly Walton Scholarship awarded to a minority student based on his or her academic and athletic achievements. The race also raffles off a $1,000 award to a school that has at least 15 or more athletes entered in the race. In its initial year in 2014, Woonsocket High was the recipient and utilized the money to purchase new uniforms for its teams.
The five-mile race takes place on a scenic, out-and-back course that finishes and ends at Narragansett Pier School on 232 South Pier Road. Chip timing will be utilized. In addition to a digital clock at mile 1 and 4, participants will also have the opportunity of getting their 5K splits with another digital clock and a mat that will record their time at that checkpoint; a great feature for high school coaches who are interested in using the race as a quick tempo run for their athletes. The 3K walk will incorporate the opening 1.8-mile loop of the five-mile course and then turn left back to the finish at Pier School.
Registration for the Bobby Doyle Summer Classic can be done online at www.bobbydoyleraces.com. The cost for the five-mile race and 3K walk is $27 until Aug. 7 and $32 for on-site registration on race day. For high school students, the cost is just $20 until Aug. 7 and $25 on race day. Participants in both races receive a USATF-NE Championship medal, an attractive Tech T-shirt and are also entered in a post-race raffle that includes several prizes.