Interview with Elizabeth Halper, race administrator for Run for the Pines

Sean Radcliffe: Elizabeth can you introduce yourself and explain your involvement with the Run for the Pines 5K?

Elizabeth Halper: I am the administrative assistant to the Executive Director, Patricia Vargas.   My role at Cathedral of the Pines includes many and diverse tasks, one being community outreach.  We created the “Run for the Pines” 5K last year not only to promote awareness of Cathedral of the Pines but also to engage families in a healthy and fun activity!

Sean Radcliffe: How old is the  Run for the Pines 5K ? I think it is a relatively new race.

Elizabeth Halper:  October 2018, was our first official “Run for the Pines” race.   There were other 5K’s at the Cathedral in past years.  We hope to make this an annual event.

Sean Radcliffe: This race benefits the Cathedral of the Pines, correct?

Elizabeth Halper: Yes. 

Sean Radcliffe: I only learned of the museum this year.  That's something people (and runners) should visit.

Elizabeth Halper: Cathedral of the Pines is a very special place.  We are essentially a “Cathedral without walls!” Our historic monuments honor the service of American men and women—both military and civilian. We welcome visitors from all over the world to participate in our events and to explore the extraordinary sanctuary grounds, meditate in outdoor chapels and gardens, and learn our history.

Sean Radcliffe: A lot of people know about the Cathedral of the Pines but don't know about the race and the course. Tell me about the course.

Elizabeth Halper: It is a approximately a three mile course that begins at the Hilltop House on the Cathedral Grounds. Follows a dirt road down to Grassy Pond, traverses some back roads and then reverses direction.

Sean Radcliffe:  I think there is only race-day registration, is that correct? Tell me about registration.

Elizabeth Halper:  We are in the process of creating an on-line registration that will be linked to our FB and web page.  Same day registration is also an option.

Sean Radcliffe: Tell me about the special incentive for the first 50 registered runners (as well as other prizes).

This year the first 30 registered runner will receive a miniature “live” pine tree.  We will have prizes for first finisher, first family and youngest runner.

Sean Radcliffe:  Well, the weather in September is typically drier and cooler, nice time to have a 5K.  It should be a good time for a race and visit to the Cathedral of the Pines.

Elizabeth Halper:   September is a perfect time to visit our beautiful grounds, walk our trails, explore our museum and have a picnic.  We allow “leashed” dogs as well.

Interview with Dana Whitehouse, race director of Marlborough Mad Dash 5k

The Marlborough Mad Dash 5K has been in the MAGP series for two years in a row. I had a brief chat with the race director Dana Whitehouse about the Mad Dash 5K.

Sean Radcliffe: Dana can you introduce yourself and explain your involvement with the Mad Dash 5K?

Dana Whitehouse: Thanks Sean.  My name is Dana Whitehouse and I am the Adjutant at Croteau-Coutts Post 24 in Marlborough, NH.  I am also a Marine Corps veteran and served 30 years of combined active and reserve service. Our American Legion Post was involved with the very first Marlborough Madness Festival in 2010.  At that time, our only involvement was selling barbequed chicken dinners. It was during planning for the 2nd Annual Marlborough Madness the next year that our Post suggested kicking off the festival in the morning with a 5K road race.  Everyone loved the idea and as a result the Mad Dash was born in 2011. 

 Sean Radcliffe: How old is the Mad Dash race?

Dana Whitehouse: This is the 8th year that we run the race.  Over the years, it has become more of a Marlborough American Legion event, particularly after 2016 when the Marlborough Madness Festival ended.

Sean Radcliffe: Tell me about the course.

Dana Whitehouse: The site of our course was chosen primarily because it is remote and doesn’t present many traffic challenges to the Marlborough Police Department.  That being said, the course runs through an absolutely beautiful part of Marlborough with spectacular views of Mount Monadnock and the surrounding area. It is a very challenging course winding along scenic roads and rolling hills lined with stone walls. The course is also set up in such a way that spectators will not only be able to cheer on the runners during the start and finish, but also a third time as they loop around the registration gazeebo at the beginning of the race.  The runners will move past the old Meeting House Cemetery during the race and it is interesting to note that this is the original site of the town of Marlborough when it was founded in 1776.   

Sean Radcliffe: I understand the Mad Dash benefits the American Legion, is that correct?

Dana Whitehouse:  Yes, this is the one of the only opportunities each year that the Post uses to raise funds for our local American Legion programs. The money we raise is used to support our local Boy Scout troop; it provides tuition money which enables our post to sponsor high school juniors and seniors to the annual State of New Hampshire Boys State program; it provides funds to the Linwood Croteau Memorial Scholarship fund; and the money we raise also gives our post the capacity to help local veterans and their families in need.

Sean Radcliffe:  Tell me about the registration gifts and prizes.

Dana Whitehouse: Well, this is the Centennial Year of the American Legion as well as Croteau-Coutts Post 24 – 1919-2019. So we’ve decided to make this the theme of the race this year!  In addition to this, we’ve also expanded our prize categories from what we’ve had in previous races. We have “grab bags” for the first 60 registrants as well as T-shirts. This year we will have awards and cash prizes for the top three male and female finishers. The awards will consist of gold, silver and bronze medals and the prizes will be $100, $50, and $25.  We will also be awarding eight additional prizes to the top finishers in the following age groups: 0-12, 13-19, 

20-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59, 60-69, 70+.  Winners in these categories will receive an American Legion Centennial Coin and a $25 gift certificate to a local business.   

Sean Radcliffe:  Well, my weather app is predicting sunny weather for this weekend.  That's nice for both runners and the volunteers.

Dana Whitehouse: It should be a great race day!  Last year was our first to partner with the Monadnock Area Grand Prix (MAGP) and the number of runners increased significantly. We’re hoping for an even better result this year!

Sean Radcliffe:  We will see you this Saturday!

Dana Whitehouse: You will definitely see me there on Saturday along with many other Legion members all wearing our “summer Legion uniform”.  The Marlborough Lions Club will also be there among the race volunteers. This year, we will also have Technical Sergeant Nick Lanouette, the local Air Force representative for Keene. He will setting up a table for the Air Force at the Mad Dash 5K and will be handing out water bottles, towels, etc and trying to raise awareness of the Air Force.