Good Run Good Pace

Paul Rifkin

It started as a fun run, from bar to bar, back in the days before running a road race was even a thing. It was that simple a concept. Today, nearly 50 years later, the 7-mile Falmouth Road Race—taking place this year on August 18—is an internationally acclaimed, world-class athletic event that attracts more than 10,000 runners and more than 200,000 spectators to Falmouth each year. 

As the story goes, in 1972, local legend Tommy Leonard—bartender at the iconic Brothers Four, atop what is now known as Falmouth’s “heartbreak hill” in Falmouth Heights—was enthralled with the fact that an American, Frank Shorter, had won the Olympic Marathon for the first time since 1908. Tommy had an idea—create a “Falmouth Marathon” and attract America’s gold medalist to run in Falmouth. He created a route, from the Captain Kidd in Woods Hole to the Brothers Four in the Heights, enlisted the support of Falmouth High School track coach John Carroll and Falmouth Recreation Director Rich Sherman to help organize, and on a rain-soaked Wednesday afternoon a year later, the Falmouth Road Race was born.  According to the race’s website, 93 runners braved the elements that day.

To this day, the Falmouth Road Race has hosted some of the most notable runners on the planet. Tommy’s dream was fulfilled when Shorter actually ran and won the race in 1975, and continued as running legends like Bill Rodgers and Joan Benoit participated. Additionally, more than 40 years of competitive and exciting wheelchair entries, and the recent dominance of Kenyan Stephen Sambu, have established and maintained this race as one of the can’t-miss events in the worldwide running circuit.