The oldest track & field blog on the internet

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Your Track Vault Pick of the Week

It's been a little while since I've done one of these.  Today's pick is in honor of cross country season, a 1979 profile of the oldest annual cross country race in the USA.
The Northfield Mount Hermon School is situated on the banks of the Connecticut River in western Massachusetts, deep in the heart of New England prep country. Its athletic rivalry with Deerfield Academy, a few miles to the south, is well known, at least in preppie circles, and Deerfield Weekend is the high, or low, point of Mount Hermon's football season, depending on its outcome.

For the last 88 years Mount Hermon has also been running, but its premier event, the annual Bemis-Forslund Pie Race, has been a rather well-kept secret. That's a shame, because there is nothing quite like it. For one thing, it is the oldest footrace in the U.S., six years older than the Boston Marathon and, by those who know it, more highly regarded. Students, faculty, staff, alumni and occasionally a guest or two are invited each year to the rural Mount Hermon campus to run a 4.5-mile cross-country course on the Monday of Thanksgiving week. The first three boy students, the first three girl students and the first alumnus and alumna to finish receive medals. Everyone else who beats a specified time—33 minutes for males, 40 minutes for females—gets a pie, a 10-inch, two-crust, all-American apple pie made that morning in the school bakery.
1979 was special for this otherwise mostly unknown race. Mount Hermon's most famous alumni, Frank Shorter, came back to try to break the course record in the twilight of his career.

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