Ocean Beach/John & Jessie Kelley Road Race

Today was the 48th annual Ocean Beach/John & Jessie Kelley Road Race in New London, Connecticut. I’m a fan of anything with a 48 year-old pedigree and it is hard to believe that after 25 years of competitive running, that this is the first time I have run the classic 11.6 mile race. Ocean Beach is an iconic spot on Long Island Sound with a beautiful boardwalk and beach. The setting makes you think of a different era, like nearly 50 years ago, when this race had its beginnings.

Much has been written about this award-winning event, so I will share some additional reading material through various links. One of the unique features is that it is free. There is no cost to run, and that makes it one of the only free big time races in the country. The City of New London and various sponsors make it possible. The event is SNERRO timed and SNERRO itself was formed 48 years ago because of the Ocean Beach Road Race. We know SNERRO well because up until this year, they timed the Chester 4 on the 4th Road Race with their unique system.

In the beginning, the race wasn’t named after John J. Kelley, but now it is. Known as John “The Younger” to avoid confusion with another New England great, John A. Kelley, he is one of the best distance runners to ever come out of Connecticut. He was a Boston Marathon champion in 1957, an Olympian, U.S. Champion, and he accomplished many other great running feats. He is a member of United States Distance Running Hall of Fame. Kelley is from New London, so the Ocean Beach Road Race honors him. Kelley is also known for the great contributions that he has made to the careers of high school and college runners. Amby Burfoot is one of his more famous pupils.

The Ocean Beach course is very cool. It has a lot of character. I was on parts of this course two weeks ago when I did the Amica 19.7 Ocean Beach Triathlon. I told Debbie how cool the course was and mentioned the iconic nature of the event. We were headed to the shoreline for tomorrow’s Niantic Bay Triathlon, so I encouraged her to run today. Circumstances worked out so that we both got to run, though I took it easy and pushed our 10-month-old daughter in the jog stroller. It was great to break out our Chariot CX-1. We put so many miles on that stroller with our son, but now spend most of our time pushing the CX-2, which is a lot harder.

There is no comparison. The CX-1 with our little girl weighs 36 pounds and is very aerodynamic. The CX-2 with both kids weighs 75 pounds and pushes a lot of air. It was fun to cruise mid-pack today and take in the sights. She slept for part of the route, but was awake and chattering at the end. We toured the course in 1:27 or so. Debbie was only a minute up on us. I could see her on the long straightaways, but since I was saving my legs for tomorrow, I let her go.

The Silk City Striders had a huge turnout with at least 14 club members participating in the hotly contesting team divisions. This race has women’s, men’s, and mixed team competitions. I don’t envy the scorer, and we didn’t stick around in the hot sun to see how the results panned out. I will post the results when they are available. There was a lot of cool stuff to do after the race. There were vendors, there was a band, and you could go swimming. The race is also famous for serving New England style clam chowder at the post race festival. Vegans don’t eat clam chowder, but I can’t see how carnivores would want chowder at 10:30 A.M. anyway!

Both Debbie and I enjoyed the course even though we prefer trails to roads. We enjoyed the community vibe at this race and got in some good miles. I got to run and chat with some friends, including John Collins, who I hadn’t seen in a while. I also got to meet some new friends, who like me, are members of H.E.A.T. Debbie ran extra before and after since she is training for the 12 Hours of Waterbury and the Vermont 50, two events that demand a little bit more of you. The fall racing season is coming upon us fast, but we won’t wish away the beautiful summer that we have had for anything.

Race Results

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