Race Recap: The First Annual Mass Ave Mile, 7/22/2012

There's something surreal about seeing a ball (perhaps a horde) of runners clogging a major city thoroughfare in the morning. The typical cacophony of honking car horns, the flailing gesticulations of irritated drivers so abundant in this city curiously absent, and all that remained was the loud rhythmic clomp of fast feet.

The only thought: somehow, we pulled it off.

On Sunday, July 22, 2012, at 8:58am we shut down Massachusetts Avenue in Cambridge. At 9:15am, we reopened, as if nothing had happened.

But something special happened indeed: the First Annual Mass Ave Mile, a race years in the making, and from what we can tell, unique inside Greater Boston. 

Thanks to a collaborative effort among some of the city's most influential and veteran race directors, recreation authorities, nonprofits, educational institutions, local business owners, and with a good dose of help from the Cambridge police and Danehy Park staff, some 400+ runners (yeah, even road miles have bandits) were given a unique opportunity to blast down an otherwise chaotic stretch of road from Porter Square to Harvard Square in (relative) peace and calm.

There were fast times on Mass Ave. The official results put a fast dude named Dan Kramer of New Balance Boston at the head of the pack, effortlessly crossing the bricks at Harvard Square's Out of Town News in a time of 4:27, and crossing the 800m in 2:10. Not far behind, however, former Newton South track standout Yuji Wakimoto with our first place collegiate time of 4:34.

In the ladies' race, New Balance Boston team member Joanna Murphy took the tape, crossing the line in a blistering 4:52 and finishing in 14th overall, edging out teammate Caitlin Malloy who finished another 8-seconds back.

But the true story of the race is better told in pictures. Runners of all ages and abilities took a quiet Sunday morning by storm, and got a taste of what it truly means to grit it out over a distance that somehow lost a bit of its prevalence after the 1970s, but never its relevance in the American mindspace.

Thanks to all of the sponsors for the incredible contributions and help: New Balance, Whole Foods Market, The Harvard Square Business Association, Tavern in the Square; and to the beneficiaries for their volunteer aid: Title IX Girls Running, Cambridge High School, and Cambridge Rindge and Latin. 

Special thanks go out to the City of Cambridge and its residents for allowing us to put on our little 15-minute disruption in the interest of promoting a healthy kickstart to a gorgeous Sunday morning; to its recreation head Paul Ryder for being an advocate and a friend; to Paul Clark for still knowing how to ride a bike, mark a course, and wield a megaphone; and to the Cambridge Auxiliary Police and EMT staff for keeping people safe, ensuring one very important thing:

This race will be back next year.