BIG seems to be the word of the month. I kicked off December by sharing Small Change was heading to Big Sky Montana and now two weeks later, I’m excited to announce I’ve partnered with the Big Lake Half Marathon in Alton, New Hampshire.
Big Lake race owner, Dave Abbett, reached out to me after finding my blog and reading about Small Change. Though he and his wife already make a donation as part of the race, they wanted to do more and Small Change was the perfect inspiration. This generous couple have chosen to donate 10% of race proceeds to several nonprofits in the Alton community.
The more I talk to Dave, the more I want to break my “no pavement” rule and run this race! Not only is it nestled in an area surrounded by mountains, trees, and water, but Dave’s chosen beneficiaries are actively involved in the race—volunteers from these groups serve as aid station helpers, logistical coordinators, and of course, race cheerleaders. The Big Lake Half Marathon is a true community race and I’m honored to bring Small Change to Alton, NH.
I recently caught up with Dave to learn more about Big Lake and why you should add it to your 2016 race calendar.
What is the history of the Big Lake Half Marathon?
Big Lake is going on its 15th year. The race was founded and organized by Keith Jordan until I purchased it four years ago and have been organizing it ever since. I had started a small race business and Big Lake went onto the market. It really helped our business to purchase the race—it has a good reputation in a beautiful area and near where I live.
Why did you make beneficiaries an integral part of the race?
My wife and I knew Big Lake could be so much more; so we decided to increase our personal giving. We are donating 10% of the race revenues back to the nonprofit groups that help during the race each year. This donation is on top of a regular donation we already make. We believe this is a win-win situation.
What organizations did you choose?
For 15 years, most of the nonprofit groups have consistently volunteered during the race so it makes sense to give back to them. The groups include the Alton/New Durham Boy Scout Troop 53, Lakes Region Triathlon Club, Barrington Girl Scouts, Mark A Richardson Scholarship Foundation, Timberwolves Booster Club, and Young Life Seacoast. Together, these groups are a strong team of volunteers who take pride in helping make Big Lake successful while bringing needed funds to them.
Besides the beneficiary component, what makes Big Lake Half special?
Big Lake is special for many reasons. We have spectacular scenery of the White Mountains of New Hampshire while overlooking the largest lake in New Hampshire, Lake Winnipesaukee; but this isn’t the most special, once a year the town gets involved to help put on the race. While I may organize the race, we have nearly 200 people helping to make it special for the runners. We have eight groups of volunteers join in to host the race. One of our water stops is hosted by a local resident group on the edge of the lake, they really make a party of it, have been for years.
What’s your best advice for a first time half-marathoner?
If this is your first half marathon then you are really in for a treat; the Lakes Region is full of beauty, but it takes some effort to see it. Our race has a gradual incline from mile 2 to 4 where you are blessed with a water stop at the scenic overlook. As with most New England events, hills should be included in your training plan!
When you’re not organizing races, what keeps you busy?
My wife and I have three boys between the ages of ten and 16, so most of the time we’re heading off to different events and activities or just hanging around with them. During the week, I’m a physical therapist at a nursing facility and my moonlight hours are taken up by runopedia, a running blog directory I recently launched. It’s a good resource for runners looking for running-related blogs and information. You can also find my blog here—Dave’s Blog—where I encourage others through my journey that no matter how out of shape you are you can get back to health and fitness.
What race is top on your bucket list?
At this time I’m just getting back into running, so it will take a while to get to bucket list status. I would like to race somewhere outside of the US., probably, Iceland or New Zealand. Why? Well, both of these countries are on my bucket list so I might as well race there!
Anything else you’d like to share?
I would encourage your readers to consider Big Lake Half Marathon and to check out runopedia. I also want to thank you, Erin, for what you are doing with the Small Change initiative; we so often forget about the impact on a town when we go there to race.
Thanks, Dave, for your time and for sharing more about your special race – I hope to see you in May. Registration for the Big Lake Half Marathon is open!
If you’re a race director or an adventure outfitter and want to partner, let’s talk! We can work together to create a customized plan. Together, our Small Change can add up to something good for communities.