Seagull Six History
Born as a child of both the running boom and the social protests of the late ’70s, the Seagull Six is a colorful and challenging race early in the spring season, the first or second Sunday in April. As former race director and race historian Fred Keller recounts, “But haven’t you ever wondered how an obscure, little race like the Seagull evolved? Truth is, it started as a “protest race” in 1978, to draw attention to the evils of PAVE-PAWS radar site being built at Otis AFB. A small, but feisty group of local runner/hippie types known as the Seagull Striders, led by Karen and Henry Smith-Rohrberg and Betty Fuller, decided to stage the race as a fund raiser to help carry on the struggle.” Shortly after the Seagull Six was born, John Carroll suggested that the “Striders” and his own running group should combine into one club… making this special little race a catalyst for what we now know as the Falmouth Track Club.
Keller surmised that the ‘six-mile’ loop, starting and ending in front of the Woods Hole firehouse, and laid out around Woods Hole, was measured by whatever well-worn car Karen Smith-Rohrberg drove back then. The first race participants, thrilled with their six-mile PRs, were brought back to earth with the later discovery that the course actually measures only 5.74 miles.
In 1979, overtaken just at the finish line to come in second overall, was the race’s most famous participant, Lynn Jennings, then just a high school student. Most years the race draws between 150-200 participants, although entries have reached as high as over 300. In 1983, Jack Weiss introduced the famous and much treasured Seagull Six glass mug (if you haven’t seen one, you haven’t been hosted for a meal by a Falmouth Track Club member). The race headquarters remains the drafty, but charming Woods Hole firehouse, warmed by sweating bodies consuming post race refreshments. A fitness walk was added in 1994, the Falmouth VNA’s ‘Walk for Well Women projects.’
In 2009, due to construction of the Eel Pond drawbridge, a temporary alteration to the start/finish area was made for that year only. The temporary start line was on Railroad Ave. at the corner of Water St. The course routed runners down Railroad Ave. onto Luscombe, crossing Water St. and rejoining the traditional course at School Street. The race finished on Water St. in front of Redfield Hall, approximately 50 yards shy of the draw bridge. Starting in 2010 the traditional course has again been employed, with an improved drawbridge giving runners a better surface for their finishing kick.
Only within recent years did race directors Pete Sampson and Mike Norton break the long-standing tradition of giving out awards twelve months after the event! Mike Norton currently is the race director of this popular and challenging race. If you are looking for a good opener for your spring racing season, look no further than the Seagull Six.