LYNN — Runners from around the North Shore and beyond will gather at Lynn Woods Wednesday evening to take part in the 48th annual 10-Mile Relay. The relay is one of the most anticipated and well-attended events of the summer.
“We love having this race because so many people come out and participate each year,” said Bill Mullen, one of the organizers of the event. “It’s a good opportunity for a lot of runners to participate in a relay that’s not as long as some of the other relay races in the area. The winners will likely finish in about an hour, so that opens up the field for a lot more runners to run who may not have the time or ability to run the longer relay races.”
Mullen has participated in the 10-Mile Relay since the late ’70s, running with a team in 1979 before taking over as one of the organizers in the early ’80s.
“We’ve been holding a relay race since 1971, back when most of the runners were in high school or college, and I came back to run in one in 1979,” Mullen said. “The course has changed a bit in that time, but it’s always been a traditional relay race and it’s always been a pretty big event.”
The 10-Mile Relay is formatted as such: four-member teams will combine to run the 10 miles, with each team member running 2.5 miles before handing the baton off to his or her teammate. The course is set up so that the starting and finish lines are one in the same, meaning each runner loops back around to the beginning in each of the four legs of the race.
“We like the loop back around because it allows teams to see each one of their runners at the beginning and the end of each leg of the race,” Mullen said. “That gives teammates an opportunity to cheer one another on and adds to the excitement.”
The relay is different from the normal weekly races held at Lynn Woods for a couple of reasons. For one, it’s a more popular event. While the weekly Lynn Woods Summer Cross Country Series races draw around 200 or so people, the 10-Mile Relay is already set to feature more than 300 runners. Many running clubs in the area make it a point to send teams to the 10-Mile Relay each year. Wicked Running Club of Salem (18 teams), Mystic Runners of Boston (15 teams) and North Shore Striders of Beverly (10+ teams) are just a few of the running clubs sending teams to the event.
Also, the 10-Mile Run tends to be a more competitive race than the weekly Lynn Woods races. At the 10-Mile Run, winners of each division (there will be 13 of them this year) receive a prize. For the second- and third-place teams, each team member will receive a medal. For first-place teams, each team member will receive a special Lynn Woods sweatshirt.
“I like to think it has become a bit of a collector’s item,” Mullen said of the sweatshirt.
The divisions for the 10-Mile Relay are men’s and women’s open, men’s and women’s masters (ages 40-49), men’s and women’s seniors (ages 50-59), men’s veterans (age 60-69), men’s super veterans (ages 70 and up), women’s veterans (ages 60 and up) and co-ed (two male and two female runners).
Of course all of this is dependent on the weather, which could pose a bit of a problem as there are some potential thunderstorms forecast for Wednesday.
“We have to keep everyone safe, so if there’s thunder and lightning we’ll just have to push the event off for a week,” said Mullen. “But let’s hope we don’t have to do that, because we’ve got a lot of people ready to run this week and we’d like to be able to do it Wednesday.”
With any luck, the thunder and lightning will hold off long enough to get the event in as scheduled. The races will begin at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Lynn Woods.