In what could be the end of an era, reports have leaked out that the Falmouth Road Race Board of Directors have accepted the resignations of long time race directors Rich Sherman and John Carroll along with their wives, Kathy and Lucia. The two couples led the small Cape Cod seven-mile race for the entirety of its 38 years, and built it into one of the most revered road races in the nation.
Popular local bartender Tommy Leonard founded the race in 1973 after being inspired by Frank Shorter’s gold medal win at the Munich Olympic Marathon. Hoping to raise money for the local high school girls track team, Tommy decided to stage a race from The Cap’n Kidd bar/restaurant in Woods Hole ending seven miles later at the Brothers Four, the bar he tended in Falmouth Heights.
Tommy enlisted the help of the high school track coach John Carroll, and the towns recreation director Rich Sherman to help stage the first Falmouth Road Race. Fewer than 100 people ran in a driving rainstorm, but the post-race gathering at the Brothers Four was such a hit that the following year nearly 500 ran. The 1974 race made a big splash athletically when a then unknown Greater Boston Track Club runner, Bill Rodgers, beat America’s premier miler Marty Liquori.
In year three Tommy invited Frank Shorter himself to the Cape to race against Rodgers. Their duels – Frank won two, Bill won three – helped roll the running boom nationwide.
Today, with the unparalled beauty of its serpentine seaside course, and its rich racing tradition, the Falmouth Road Race – dubbed The Great American Road Race – is one of the signature events of the Cape Cod summer.
“We are still involved with the race,’’ Rich Sherman told the Boston Herald. Sherman was one of the 92 official finishers in the first Falmouth race in 1973. “That’s all I am allowed to say.’’
Word is that Matt Auger will be the interim director as the event goes through the interview process. Auger has been with the event for 18 years. Falmouth native Christine Frazier heads up the six-person board of directors.
Founder Tommy Leonard is said to have mixed feelings about the departure of the Carrolls and Shermans. Though he didn’t always see eye to eye with them over the years, he still felt bad about their abrupt departure. After all, they did take his little concept and turn it into a world class event.
Tommy will be at the Dave McGillivray soiree Saturday night in Quincy, Mass. to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Dave’s event management company DMSE. I’m sure he can provide more insight then.