Monson Memorial Classic Race Report

Race: Monson Memorial Classic

Runner: Nate McBride

Race Date: 11/07/2021

Location: Monson, MA


Strava Activity Link:

Photo: Racewire (Monson)

3 Bests – What aspects of the race did you like the most?

This was my fourth year in a row (not including 2020 as it was cancelled) and I keep coming back for three reasons:

  1. I love the nasty vert on this race…all that work and you get rewarded with a downhill 5k at the end.
  2. The course is beautiful…it runs through a sleepy old industrial town in central MA
  3. The after race food is amazing…all home made and served by all of the grandmothers of the race committee

Not so much – Aspects of the race that didn’t do it for you

I have no complaints about this race. The volunteers are amazing (they have 7 water stops for a half marathon), the bagpipers which start the race are awesome and its just such a great race vibe all around.

Weird factor – What’s the weirdest thing about this race?

It defies the laws of physics on how you can keep climbing and climbing and climbing some more only to turn a corner and find more climbing. Also weird…this race comes after all of the big fancy marathons are done and no one really has anything left on their schedules yet it only turns out about 130-150 people each year. It is so cheap to register and you get so much back.

Highlights of your race – What did you do well and enjoy about your race in particular?

Having made critical mistakes on this course before, I just decided to pull back a bit on the first 10k and then bring it home on the back half. It worked very well and I was able to reel in a lot of people in the last 5k who were broken from the climbs. This was my final race of a very long (20 month) season so I was happy that I had enough to run smart and bring it home.

Lessons for others – Share your pro-tips on the race to help the next runner

Be patient…8 miles of constant up…2 miles of rollers…3 miles of down. Pace the ups and go manic on the down.

Lessons you learned that will help you next time around

I think I could have pushed by first 10k faster by about 15-20s per mile and still have been ok to take the back half out the same way.

Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race

It’s ~1k feet of climbing in a very compressed timeframe.

Aesthetics – Is it a pretty course?

Gorgeous…nothing but bright fall colors the whole way and empty country roads. There is a lot to look at which helps with the suffering.

Difficulty – Is it a tough course?

It is tough but doable if you are patient and persistent. I would give it a 8 out of 10 on hard.

Organized and well run – Did it feel like a well-oiled machine or were they flying by the seat of their pants?

This was their 25th year…they have this thing down to a science. They also take race pictures!! I got some great pics.

Competition – Is there a strong field?

The top 15 or so typically run between 1:10 and 1:15 and then it drops off for a few 1:20’s.

Logistics – Does it require a special handshake, registration a year in advance, hotels all booked? Give us the low down on the nuts and bolts of making the race happen.

I always register about a week or two in advance and always get a slot and always get one of their cool shirts. Nothing special required…they don’t advertise too well so it’s something most people find out about by word of mouth.

Aid Stations – Standard fare or anything special to know about the aid stations in terms of what’s available or when?

It is all water stops along the course. 7 of them to be exact.

Weather and typical race conditions

Four years I have done this and four years its been mid-40’s, gorgeous and with perfect air quality. It is November in central MA though so it could really be an awful day if it wanted to.

Gear – Did you need anything special or is there anything you’d recommend for the next runner?

Whatever your favorite half marathon kit is should do the trick. I run with a single 15oz handheld of Tailwind for this race.

Spectators – Is this a friendly course for your friends?

There are lots of places were people could come and cheer but mostly the course is very sparsely populated so almost everyone just waits at the end.

How’s the Swag?

Awesome LS tech t-shirt every year, cool medal, $20 gift certificate to Treehouse Brewing just to sign up and you get an awesome home cooked meal at the end.

The Overall Score – How many stars do you give this race and do you recommend that others run it?

5/5 and yes – if your season ends in the Oct/Nov time frame in New England…think about this race. There are cool cash prizes for the very fast people and its an awesome day.

Want to know more about specificity of training for races like these? Check out Coach Maxx Antush’s article for some tips!