This is part of a series of posts from my quest to run a half marathon in all 50 states. Rhode Island was my 26th state.
After I went to Vermont and fell in love with the New England states, I was very much looking forward to going to Rhode Island for the Newport Half Marathon. I had heard that fall is the best time to visit the New England states because of the foliage and the race is held in October so I thought the timing would be perfect. Along with Vermont, Rhode Island is one of the top 10 least-visited states in the United States, yet these were two of my favorite states I’ve visited (of the roughly 40 states I’ve been to so far). I guess the word isn’t out yet.
I knew almost nothing about Rhode Island before planning my vacation there but I was not disappointed upon arrival. There’s so much to do in this tiny state just in the Newport area alone, from visiting mansions, walking along Cliff Walk, visiting Fort Adams, relaxing at the beaches, and shopping in the unique little towns outside Newport. There are loads of great restaurants as well.
The course of the half marathon is along historic downtown Newport, Fort Adams, Ocean Drive (for nice water views), and past the huge Bellevue Avenue mansions with a finish at Easton Beach. While not a very flat course, there are some hills throughout the course, which is only made worse if there are strong winds during the race, as was the case when I ran it (and is not unusual for this race). The race now starts at 7:30 am and has a wave start in three waves starting minutes apart based on predicted pace and finish times. This definitely helps the course not get so congested especially in the first few miles like often happens at races with a lot of runners. If you check my post-race notes below, that was one thing I said they should have had is a wave start. I guess others complained and the race director listened and made changes.
At packet pickup you get a short-sleeve shirt of technical fabric available in unisex and women’s sizes, which is nice. Another nice bonus is you get a link after the race to high resolution photos taken by Gameface Media on-course that you can download for free.
Logistics of getting here: Boston Logan International Airport is pretty much your option for flying into Rhode Island unless you have your own airplane (and if any of you do, I’d love to hear about it!). From Logan it is about a 2 hour drive to Newport. If you will be spending some time in Boston, I don’t advise renting a car until you are leaving the area. Parking is at a steep premium in Boston and it is a very walkable city with decent options for public transportation. My family and I walked to everything we did in Boston and picked up the rental car just as we were leaving. Another piece of advice is to pick up the rental from a site outside of the airport since you can save a lot of money by avoiding the extra fees charged by the airport.
Would I recommend this race? Absolutely and you must stay for at least a couple of nights after the race as well to check out the area.
From my post-race notes: “Beautiful course along parks and mansions and ocean views. Several hills scattered throughout course. A storm blew in the morning of the race and it rained some at the beginning but the worst was the winds- up to 25 mph. Good aid stations and volunteers. Got a nice technical shirt and nice medal. Was very crowded along most of the course; should have had wave starts. Finished at 2:03. Wanted to finish in 2:02, so was happy with finish time considering the winds and hills.”