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The Great Falmouth Drop-Off

Every year, except for last year, I find myself crawling along in a traffic jam just after dawn, patiently waiting for an opportunity to drop off a car full of runners for the Falmouth Road Race. As a committed non runner, it’s admittedly an odd position to put myself in. But we do what we must for those we love.

The Falmouth Road Race was established in 1973, beginning at one bar and winding seven picturesque miles along the coast to another bar. It quickly became a destination race for a mix of international runners, including Olympians and elite runners, but largely recreational runners of varying abilities. That bit about beginning at one bar and ending at another is an important piece of information. For it means moving thousands of runners from one place to another at the beginning of the day. Which brings us to the great drop-off.

Runners gather at the Lawrence School in Falmouth for the bus ride to Woods Hole for the start of the race. Runners are supposed to be at the school by 7 AM, which creates a crush of traffic most years as those seeking a parking spot mix with those dropping off runners. Add in thousands of runners walking from local homes and inns and you’ve got a recipe for gridlock as all navigate the local neighborhoods in this small town.

2021, with a reduced number of participants, lightened the traffic considerably, but it didn’t eliminate it. This is the price you pay for participation in a great race, with both a local and international vibe. For all the madness, everyone is there to have a good time on a summer day.

After dropping off runners spectators strategically position themselves at key viewing spots. My preferred location gives me a chance to see my favorite runners twice: just after the 6 mile mark and again at the finish. Don’t tell anyone though, it’s already getting pretty crowded here. With COVID considerations addressed, isn’t it nice being around people again?

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