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A Neighborhood Run

Club Starts Area Race Series

  • The Upper Valley Running Club’s new race series is geared toward runners such as Lebanton’s Joe Jones, shown Tuesday at Lebanon High. (Valley News - Sarah Priestap)

    The Upper Valley Running Club’s new race series is geared toward runners such as Lebanton’s Joe Jones, shown Tuesday at Lebanon High. (Valley News - Sarah Priestap) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Hanover’s Geoff Dunbar tests his flexibility during a Upper Valley Running Club track workout on Tuesday. (Valley News - Sarah Priestap)

    Hanover’s Geoff Dunbar tests his flexibility during a Upper Valley Running Club track workout on Tuesday. (Valley News - Sarah Priestap) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Jim Burnett, of Canaan, runs on the Lebanon High School track during a Tuesday Night Runners Meetup. (Valley News - Sarah Priestap)

    Jim Burnett, of Canaan, runs on the Lebanon High School track during a Tuesday Night Runners Meetup. (Valley News - Sarah Priestap) Purchase photo reprints »

  • The Upper Valley Running Club’s new race series is geared toward runners such as Lebanton’s Joe Jones, shown Tuesday at Lebanon High. (Valley News - Sarah Priestap)
  • Hanover’s Geoff Dunbar tests his flexibility during a Upper Valley Running Club track workout on Tuesday. (Valley News - Sarah Priestap)
  • Jim Burnett, of Canaan, runs on the Lebanon High School track during a Tuesday Night Runners Meetup. (Valley News - Sarah Priestap)

Lebanon — The Upper Valley Running Club is giving area runners a whole series of reasons to stay close to home.

In its third year organizing group training runs and competing together, UVRC members have created a six-race Upper Valley Running Series to be scored this spring and summer.

Having already kicked off with St. Patrick’s Day’s Shamrock Shuffle 5K in Lebanon, the UVRS aims to encourage participation in area road races. The rest of the docket includes Woodstock’s Road to the Pogue, the Tuck Run for the Kids in Hanover, the Skip Matthews Memorial Run in Lebanon, Enfield’s Shaker Seven and the inaugural Red, White and Blue 10K in Lebanon set for July 4.

Much like the seven-race New Hampshire Grand Prix series, the UVRS will score runners based on their age group (in 10-year increments) and gender, with points given to the top runners in each category. The best four races for each runner count toward their chances at a season championship, with a minimum three completed races to be eligible for awards.

To emphasize participation, everyone who finishes a UVRS race automatically gets 25 points, with more issued to those in the top 15 of each division. If that’s not enough incentive, consider that round-trip travel times to UVRS races could be a half-hour or shorter, compared with two hours or longer to Grand Prix races in Dover, Bedford and Portsmouth.

“It’s something we’ve talked about since we started the club and finally had a chance to do it,” said series coordinator Geoff Dunbar. “The system we have in place rewards people who run well, but also people who simply participate. That was a big part of it for us.”

Standings tiebreakers will consider head-to-head competition in races at which both or all were present as well as the highest number of events completed. Upper Valley Running Club’s members appear to be motivated, 55 of them coming out for last month’s Shamrock Shuffle — 30 more than last year.

At a blustery Tuesday Night Track training session this week at Lebanon High School, UVRC runners sounded enthused. “I think it’s a fabulous idea,” said Lebanon resident Rebecca McCown, who was the fourth female runner in the 30-39 age category at the Shamrock Shuffle, earning 75 series points. “(The UVRC) has a lot of runners, and there are a lot of races in the series. It definitely makes sense to participate close to home instead of making 2-, 3-hour trips.”

Lebanon director of recreation and parks Paul Coats, whose department facilitates the UVRC, said runners who commit to the Upper Valley Running Series would be making minimal environmental impact and spending less on fuel. He also pointed to the worthwhile causes the races on the UVRS slate benefit. For instance, the Tuck Run helps support three area children’s charities, and the Road to the Pogue’s proceeds help to maintain the vast network of public trails in Woodstock.

“When you do local races, you’re supporting local missions,” said Coats, who directs the Shamrock Shuffle which benefits youth sports and activities in Lebanon. “We’re hoping (the Upper Valley Running Series) will inspire people who might only do one race here or there to take on more of them.”

UVRS scorekeeper David Aman said feedback about the series has been positive, both from UVRC runners as well as race organizers.

“They understand that being part of the series could mean higher turnout,” Aman said. “That’s what we hope, too.”

Jared Pendak can be reached at jpendak@vnews.com or 603-727-3306.