It’s all about timing—not speed—for participants in this late night road race. New Hampshire’s Midnight Owl 15K is a unique annual event for walkers and runners with trophies not for the fastest racers on the course but for the calculating competitors who cross the finish line immediately after midnight. Held on a night when the moon is nearly full—Saturday, August 5 in 2017—it’s also an opportunity to see the scenic Mt. Washington Valley in a different light.
This running/walking event is the signature fundraiser for the Mount Washington Valley Skating Club. The race ends at the club’s home ice rink: Conway’s Ham Arena. The course officially opens at 9:30 p.m., and participants decide when to start out from Schouler Park, located across from the Conway Scenic Railroad, based on their prediction of how long it will take them to cover the 15K (9.3 mile) course. A large pace chart and countdown clock are located near the race start to aid participants in making this critical decision, but watches and individual timing devices are not allowed. All participants are required to wear reflective vests/clothing and must also wear a headlamp or carry a flashlight.
The first five runners or walkers who finish after midnight receive awards handcrafted by club skaters under the guidance of local artisan Lori Stearns of Silver Moon Mosaics. Race organizer Madeleine Ryan says runners who have participated in this race share that they love the rare opportunity to enjoy the area’s scenic beauty by moonlight. For other runners, the allure of the race is its unusual, non-competitive format.
Full course details are online. All finishers receive a commemorative medal and can enjoy post-race refreshments. A shuttle bus is available to return participants to Schouler Park following the race.
Ready to register for the Midnight Owl 15K? Online registration is available through racemenu.com.The fee is $40 including a tech T-shirt for those who register by July 23, 2017. Late registration, available until August 4, is $45, and T-shirt availability is not guaranteed.
Need Accommodations? White Mountains Hostel is offering participants a discounted rate of $27 per night. Write “Midnight Owl” in the “reason for stay” field when you make online reservations, and you will receive this special rate at check-in.