The Martha’s Vineyard 20-Miler, a road race in the middle of the Vineyard’s cold, wet February, is designed for the hardiest runners. It’s tackled each year by a group of people whose fortitude and commitment is reflected in the race’s motto: no weenies.
This year, nearly 500 runners will set the pace on Saturday, Feb. 18. The weather report shows clear skies, but race director Todd Cleland said there are no promises.
Three years ago, the race started under sunny skies only to end in a blizzard. Two years ago it was cancelled because of three feet of snow. Last year there was a negative 20-degree wind chill and the race was shortened by 4.6 miles.
The no weenies motto has been in place since the race’s inception 20 years ago as a fundraiser for the Boys and Girls Club. This year the race benefits Martha’s Vineyard Youth Hockey.
“It’s a nice way to say shut up and run,” said Mr. Cleland of the motto.
And plenty of runners, aged from 14 to 69, are up for the challenge.
The mostly flat race begins at the steamship terminal in Vineyard Haven, winds through Oak Bluffs, crosses along State Beach, loops through Edgartown into the state forest and finishes at the Oak Bluffs school. For the safety of all (runners, volunteers, cheering crowds) there’s a four-hour time limit on the race.
Those who are not up for 20 miles can participle in the Amity relay, pairing with a partner to complete 10 miles each. The race is scheduled to fit into an 18-week training program for spring marathon runners. However, there’s no single reason why people take to the course in February.
“A lot of people run for different reasons,” said Mr. Cleland. “You’ll have to ask each one why they run.”
The MV 20-Miler begins at 11 a.m. on Saturday Feb. 18. Registration ends on Friday Feb. 17 at noon. For more information visit mv20miler.com.