Race #386 – John & Jessie Kelley Half Marathon – New London, CT – 08/05/17

Since I was visiting my daughter in nearby Essex, Connecticut, I was excited to see a local half marathon that I could run. This race has been held since 1962, making it the oldest road race I’ve ever been part of and I would guess one of the oldest in the country. It’s named after John J. Kelley, winner of the 1957 Boston Marathon who later went on to coach Runner’s World editor and Boston winner Amby Burfoot when Amby was in high school. Kelley was also a two-time Olympian and winner of several other marathons, including the Yonkers Marathon eight times.


The race is held at the beautiful Ocean Park Beach in New London; unfortunately, this year was a washout with constant rain during the race so the beach setting wasn’t great on this particular day. No problem though. The pre-race downpours settled down and by the time the race started it was more of just a light rain that continued throughout but never became too bad. I’d like to come back next year in what will hopefully be better weather.


It wasn’t my best half marathon but I was actually pretty satisfied to finish in 1:44:09, which landed me in 6th place out of 32 runners in the 60-69 age group. At age 65 I’m really not thrilled when there are 10-year age groups, but it seems to happen more often, especially as you get older. If there had been the normal 5-year age groups I would have placed 3rd in the 65-69 age group, so that’s a little consolation.


This race has been different distances (around 12 miles) over the years, and in recent years 11.6 miles, but this year was the first time it has been measured as an actual half marathon (13.1 miles).


Finally, I’ve got to mention that this race is entirely FREE… No registration fee at all! Apparently it’s always been that way. I didn’t know what to expect when I registered online after finding the race listed, but it’s not only a legitimate race but excellent in every way: plenty of volunteers, great timing (although not chip-timed), good food afterwards (think clam chowder), and lots of runners. There were 552 finishers this year but I think the crowd was lower this year because of the rainy weather.

Race Number:  386


Race Name:  John & Jessie Kelley Half Marathon


Location: New London, Connecticut


Date:  August 5, 2017


Race Rating:  76


Winners (Top 25 Overall):






Weather at Start:  Rain, 72 degrees, wind SSE 11 mph, 94% humidity.


Race Results:


Click Here for Race Website

I was happy with my time of 1:44:09 but it was only good enough for 6th place in the 10-year age group.

My Stats:


  • Time:  1:44:09
  • Pace:  7:57
  • Age Group:  6 of 32 (60-69 age group)
  • Overall:  118 of 552
  • Average Heart Rate:  158
  • Maximum Heart Race:  171
  • Age Graded Equivalent Time:  1:21:11 (71.92%)




0 – Chip Timing: (3 points if yes)
0 – Starting Mat: (2 points if yes)
5 – Water Stops: (0)none (2)normal (5)extras [Gu, sports drink, etc.]
1 – Course Marking: (0)bad (1)good
4 – Course Scenery: (0-5) 1=bad and 5=fantastic
1 – Mile Markers: (0)poor or none (1)normal (2)with clocks or time called out
2 – Volunteers: (0)too few (2)good
7 – Finish line: (0-9) 0=bad and 9=spectacular!
0 – Certified Course: (0)no (2) yes
2 – Correct Distance: (0)no (2)yes
1 – Partly or fully on unpaved roads: (0)yes (1)no

10 – Cost: (0)expensive (2)reasonable (5)cheap!   (10)–>>> FREE!!!
3 – Race Day Registration: (0)no (3)yes

2 – Posted online within 24 hours: (0)no (2)yes
1 – Easy to find results: (0)no (1)yes

2 – 3 deep awards: (2)yes (0 for anything less)
0 – 5-year age groups (5 points) (0 for anything less)
0 – 14 and under group (1)
0 – 65+ group (1)
1 – 70+ group (1)
2 – Top Overall M/F: (0)none or first only (2)top 3 or better
0 – Masters Category(40+): (0)no (2)yes
0 – Grand Masters Category (50+): (0)no (3)yes
0 – Senior Grand Masters Category: (0)no (5)yes

2 – Overall Winner Awards: (0)none (2)yes (5)excellent
2 – Age Group Awards: (0)none (2)yes (5)excellent
0 – Door Prizes or Drawing: (0-9)
5 – Finisher Medals for All Finishers: (0)no (3)yes (5)really cool medals

7 – Food for Race Participants: (0-10 with 5 being average)
5 – Entertainment: (0)no (1-9)yes
2 – Finisher times posted after race: (0)no (2)yes

0 – Porta Potties: (0)no (1)limited, long lines (2)plentiful
2 – Indoor Restrooms: (0)no (1)limited, long lines (2)plentiful

0 – T-Shirts: (0)no (2)yes
x – Design: (1-5)
x – Material Quality: (1-3)
x – Discount for no-shirt option: (0)no (2)yes

0 – Professional Photography: (0)no (5)yes
x – Prices: (1)expensive (3)reasonable (5)cheap
0 – Free Photographs (newspaper, etc.): (0)no (1-10)yes

2 – Close to Start: (2)yes (0)no
2 – Close to Finish: (2)yes (0)no
2 – Plenty of spaces: (2)yes (0)no
2 – Free Parking: (2)yes (0)no

0 – Shelter from Inclement Weather (needed or not): (0)no (2)yes
0 – Swag (free socks, water bottles, etc.): (0)no (2)yes, some (5)excellent
0 – Part of race series or Grand Prix: (0)no (2)yes
0 – Kids Fun Run: (0)no (2)yes
x – Miscellaneous not covered above: (-10 to +10)

TOTAL:  76

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