Spiced Up Harwich Cranberry Harvest Half-Marathon Set For Oct. 2

By: Kat Szmit

Topics: Harwich , Running , Sports

Runners set off from the starting line of the 2015 Harwich Cranberry Festival Half-Marathon. This year's event will take place Oct. 2 and will feature the half-marathon and 10K races, cash prizes, and a post race wine and beer garden. Chronicle File Photo

HARWICH Runners have always liked the Harwich Cranberry Harvest Half-Marathon and 10K road races for the course, and now they'll have reason to stick around after crossing the finish line thanks to a new after party that promises to spice up the fun runs.

According to Paul Collyer of B.A. Event Promotions, which hosts the annual event, the 2016 Cranberry Harvest will feature a post race wine and beer garden, with live entertainment from one of the area's most popular bands, The Grab Brothers Band.

Collyer said the inspiration for the post race party stemmed from something of a dual conundrum. While the race itself starts and ends at Monomoy Regional High School (formerly the site of Harwich High), for years the after party was held at a venue away from the school. The problem was that many runners would forgo the event in favor of celebrating at a location personal to them, or at home.

In more recent years the after party was held at the Andale Cafe in Harwich, but when the eatery shut its doors, Collyer and his fellow race organizers put their heads together to come up with a different plan.

Last year the Grab Brothers performed at the school, partly due to the threat of bad weather. But Collyer was determined to find a post-race party solution.

“We wanted something a little closer, so we put on our thinking caps to make the post-race barbecue better,” he said.

The wine and beer garden will take place beneath a tent at Centeio Baldwin Field adjacent to Monomoy High.

“It's a nice addition to [the race],” said Collyer. “A lot of people after running a race want to have some food and relax. It's going to be right at the finish line, so the people in the 10K can cheer on the finishers of the half marathon. We'll also have other refreshments for people that don't partake in adult refreshments.”

Collyer said they'll also have the Patriots game on so fans at the race can catch the action. As a thank you for the use of the field, Collyer said that a donation of $2,000 will be made to Harwich-Chatham Little League.

Having the full event in one central location, Collyer said, will be a bonus.

“One thing about Harwich is it's hard to find a place big enough to hold a lot of people,” he said. “Hopefully this year the weather will be good and people will be able to finish up, get their medals, and head over to the barbecue.”

Another change in the race is an increase in fees. As of Sept. 2, fees for the half marathon are $62 per person, with a fee of $47 per person for the 10K.

Collyer said the fee increase was necessitated by rising costs to hold the event, including police details and on-site emergency medical technicians, as well as official time keepers. The event also benefits community and school organizations, including the MRHS STAND (substance abuse prevention) program run by John Dickson. The MRHS cross-country team is also involved.

Along with the wine and beer garden and live entertainment, the race will include cash prizes in the half marathon, beginning at $1,000 for the top man and top woman. Winners of the 10K will receive medals or trophies in several categories: overall winners (various age groups from 14 and under to 70+), Clydesdale Open and Masters, Clydesdale Senior Masters, and Filly Open and Masters.

Collyer said what really draws people to the race is its setting.

“I think it's Harwich,” he said. “Most of the bigger races are in Falmouth or Hyannis. This is a nice-sized race in one of the smaller communities on Cape Cod. It's a quieter town. We run by some of the old cranberry bogs, through downtown Harwich. The school is involved and it's a nice setting at the school.”

Working with the town of Harwich, Collyer said, has been excellent.

“I put on a lot of road races,” he said. “Harwich is a wonderful community to work with.”