Tuesday, June 30, 2015

A History of the Falmouth Road Race: Running Cape Cod by Paul Clerici: Perrier Water and other title sponsors

(On July 6, 2015, the first-ever book entirely about the Falmouth Road Race will be published. Entitled “History of the Falmouth Road Race, Running Cape Cod ,” it is written by Massachusetts runner and writer Paul C. Clerici, author of “Boston Marathon History by the Mile” and “History of the Greater Boston Track Club.” In a series for Recover Your Stride, he has provided some anecdotes, tales, and tidbits that will run here on a regular basis leading up to the 43rd edition of the Falmouth Road Race on August 16.)

Paul C. Clerici: The Falmouth Road Race was known by many names in the beginning - Falmouth Marathon; Woods Hole-to-Falmouth Heights race; that road race in Falmouth; the Falmouth road race; the latter two of which as descriptions in the local newspapers as opposed to being its title. Now called the New Balance Falmouth Road Race since 2011, other main and/or title sponsors over the years included Perrier from 1977-1983; PUMA and Energizer in 1984; PUMA in 1985 and 1986; John Hancock and PUMA in 1987 and 1988; Pilgrim Health Care from 1989-1995; Harvard Pilgrim from 1996-1999; Breakaway Solutions in 2000; SBLI from 2001 to 2008; and CIGNA in 2009 and 2010.

Perrier was the first title sponsor of the Falmouth Road Race starting in 1977 and made their official introduction to America at Falmouth. It was a big deal back then, not just having a title sponsor, but introducing bottled water as an upscale way of drinking water or as a drink for runners. People never drank bottled water in those days (although Perrier came in a glass bottle). Look at how much bottled water America consumes now!
I still have a Perrier luggage tag and a Perrier key chain that was given out at Falmouth.
My high school teammate Bill Hobbs and I drinking Perrier after
the 1977 Falmouth Road Race.

Here is a 1980 article from the Washington Post Run for the Bubbly detailing the history of the marketing of Perrier water to road racers in the last 1970s.

In 1978, Perrier also gave a super thin skin tight t-shirt to runners. I noticed that someone is trying to sell one on eBay this week for $85!

This unofficial shirt is not to be confused with the official road race shirt. Here is the 1980 official shirt as seen in a photograph I took after the race in 1980. It looks like Bill Rodgers and Fred Lebow were doing some wheeling and dealing!

Perrier officials handed out the awards (and more Perrier) in 1978

 I met Paul last year and was thrilled to find out that he was writing a book on the history of The Falmouth Road Race. This is the one of many tidbits from the race that he will be providing my blog in anticipation of its publication in July. If you are like me and enjoy reading background information and hearing the history of the great runners and races from the "running boom" years, you might want to do a few things in anticipation of reading Paul's upcoming book.

My blog has a lot of photos and information on the early days of the Falmouth Road Race. The first year that I ran was the historic 1975 race. You can read about it here. Kings of the Road: How Frank Shorter, Bill Rodgers, and Alberto Salazar Made Running Go Boom by Cameron Stracher tells about the runners and the races that made the "running boom" and the 1975 Falmouth Road Race plays a pivotal role. You can read my review here. Paul has written other books on running including Boston Marathon History by the Mile and History of the Greater Boston Track Club I am very much looking forward to reading Paul's new book on The Falmouth Road Race.

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