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Half Marathon Route
The OSM half marathon is a new event, but the course is identical to the marathon from the start on Smith Street (Rte. 44) at the Rhode Island State House to the 11.1 mile mark at the intersection of Cahir Street and Broad Street, near Classical High School. At this point, the two events split - marathoners turn right and head south towards Roger Williams Park, and half marathoners turn left and head towards downcity Providence for the last two miles. For a review of the 11.1 miles overlap, refer to the OSM Marathon Course Description.
From the 11.1 mile 'split', half marathoners pass the YMCA, cross Rte. 95 and continue downhill on Broad St. to the intersection with Empire Street on the left and Chestnut Street on the right at 11.4 miles. From here the course continues straight and gradually flattens out on Weybossett Street at the Providence Performing Arts Center (PPAC) on the right, followed by Johnson & Wales University also on the right. At 11.65 miles, the course turns right on Dorrance Street for two blocks to a right on Friendship Street at the Garrahy Judicial Complex. At the intersection with Richmond Street at the 12 mile mark, the course turns left and passes through the Jewelry District to a left onto Elm St. for only about 100 meters to a left onto Eddy Street. After just a tenth of a mile on Eddy Street, the course bears right onto Dyer Street and merges with the marathon course at just after 8 miles of the marathon.
From this point, the two events overlap past Capriccio's restaurant on the left and continue straight on Memorial Boulevard to a left onto Washington Street which cuts through the center of Kennedy Plaza to the intersection with Dorrance Street at City Hall. Here is where the two courses split again - the marathoners continue straight on Washington Street from the 8.7 mile point, and the half marathoners turn right on Dorrance Street with only 2-tenths to go. After passing the Biltmore Hotel, runners make a final left turn on Sabin Street to the finish at the Rhode Island Convention Center. The last two miles of the half marathon in "Downcity" Providence are downhill on Broad Street from Rte. 95 to PPAC, then completely flat the rest of the way, making for a fast and spirited finish.
The "Mount Pleasant" Loop - 5.5 miles from the start to the Providence Place Mall
From the start at the Rhode Island State House, the opening 5.5 mile loop heads west on Smith Street (Route 44) for just over 2 miles to a left on Compton Street. In the first three-tenths of a mile to the intersection with Orms Street, the course gains an insignificant amount of only 6 feet in elevation and continues flat to the one mile mark at Elmhurst Extended Care on the left. With Providence College off to the right, the next mile goes uphill for about a quarter mile, climbing 60 feet, and then gradually back downhill to LaSalle Academy on the left at 1.7 miles. Just before the turn onto Compton Street the course rises gently about 20 feet. Then, after just 250 yards on Compton Street, the course turns left onto Mt. Pleasant Ave. and continues for 1.35 miles, past Rhode Island College and Mt. Pleasant High School, to Atwells Avenue at 3.5 miles. From RIC, the course rises gradually to Chalkstone Avenue at 3 miles and reaches its highest point (152 feet elevation) just before the left at Atwells Avenue. Then the course begins a roller coaster descent - a 140 feet drop in the next seven-tenths of a mile, passes the 4 mile mark at Valley Street and bottoms out at Eagle Street at 4.2 miles. From here the course turns left and quickly curves to the right onto Kinsley Avenue for a flat one mile straightaway along the Woonasquatucket River and underneath the Route 95 overpass to the Providence Place Mall parking garage at 5.25 miles. The course then turns left and up Park Street for a challenging 225 yard hill. Runners can soon catch their breaths as the course turns off the Park Street hill to a right on Hayes Street which intersects Francis and Gaspee Streets (train station straight ahead on the right) at 5.5 miles with the Providence Place Mall on the right. This point is excellent for spectators, as it is only two-tenths of a mile down Francis Street from the start at the State House.
The "Down City" Loop - from 5.5 to 9.1 miles
From the Providence Place Mall, the second phase of the new OSM begins with a major downhill, dropping 40 feet, for two-tenths of a mile on Francis Street to the bottom, where the course turns left at Memorial Boulevard. Although there are quite a few turns, the next 3 miles are very flat, along the Riverwalk, twice over the Providence River, and through Kennedy Plaza toward Route 95. From Memorial Blvd., the course turns left at the Citizens Plaza at the 6 mile mark, and makes a quick left onto Canal Street with the Providence River on the left. Just after the intersection with Smith Street (Route 44) with the State House on the left, the course makes a sharp U-turn to the right onto North Main Street which becomes South Main Street during the next nine-tenths of a mile straightaway to James Street at 7.25 miles. Along the way the course passes the Rhode Island School of Design, the Providence County Courthouse, and then the historic Old Stone Bank at the 7 mile mark. At James Street, the course turns right and drops down to a very quick right onto South Water Street which also runs along and then crosses the Providence River over the Crawford Street Bridge to an immediate left along the river on the other side. This nameless road then curves to the right, underneath the Route 195 overpass, to Eddy Street at 7.9 miles. From Eddy Street just after the same overpass, the course bears right onto Dyer Street to the intersection with Pine Street on the left at 8.3 miles, and continues straight on Memorial Boulevard to a left onto Washington Street at 8.5 miles. Washington Street cuts through the center of Kennedy Plaza to City Hall at 8.7 miles at the intersection with Dorrance Street, another excellent spectator point, just 250 yards from the finish at the Convention Center. Continuing on Washington Street towards and over Route 95 at 9.1 miles, the course rises very gently to the intersection with Empire Street at 8.9 miles and then a bit more abruptly up and over the highway to a right on Service Road on the other side. This is the only uphill section of the "Down City" loop.
Through Federal Hill to Roger Williams Park - from 9.1 to 13.1 miles
After a short, relatively flat .35 mile stretch on Service Road along Route 95, the course turns left on Atwells Avenue and passes under the Pineapple Archway, symbol of hospitality and gateway to Federal Hill, at about 9.5 miles. After a slight initial rise, Atwells Avenue levels off for a half mile, sloping down to a left onto Knight Street at the 10 mile mark. Knight Street slopes back up and cuts over to Broadway at 10.3 miles where the course turns left and runs parallel to Atwells Avenue for four-tenths of a mile of flat, smooth road to at right on Dean Street at 10.7 miles. Dean Street intersects Westminster Street and continues straight across onto Cahir Street at Classical High School. At Broad Street (11.1 miles) near the YMCA, the course then turns right and heads south for 2 miles on completely flat and smooth road to the entrance to Roger Williams Park on the right at 13.1 miles. The 12 mile mark is at the Brooks Pharmacy (right) at the intersection with Public Street. Aside from the downslope to and the upslope from the 10 mile mark at Atwells and Knight, this 4 mile section is relatively flat, especially the 2 miles on Broad Street to the park.
The Roger Williams Park Loop to Narragansett Boulevard - 13.1 to 16.4 miles
From the half marathon point, the next 2.8 miles of OSM loop counter clockwise around most of the 435 acres of green hills, woods, and lakes that make up Roger Williams Park. At the first rotary at 13.5 miles, the course goes downhill, dropping about 30 feet past the Zoo on the right. After passing several lakes and proceeding straight at the next rotary the course bears to the right and winds its way up a short challenging hill to a right on the Frederick C. Green Memorial Boulevard. The course then downslopes gently past the Temple of Music at mile 12, followed by a short up and downhill combination to the access to Park Avenue at 14.65 miles. From here, at the Cranston line, the course curves around to the north and upslopes mildly to the 15 mile mark. At a fork in the road, the course bears left and down a curved hill, and continues on the gently rolling Frederick C. Memorial Boulevard to the rotary with the "Eagle Statue" at 15.9 miles where the course turns right on Montgomery Avenue and exits the park.
Montgomery Avenue crosses Broad Street at 16.1 miles and then bears left onto Alabama Avenue which intersects Narragansett Boulevard at 16.4 miles, just north of the Cranston / Providence line, near the Johnson & Wales University Harborside Campus. The half mile from the Eagle Statue to Narragansett is flat.
The Same as Before - from 16.4 miles to the Finish
The remainder of the course, from 16.4 miles to the finish, is the same as it has been for the last 3 years. After a small dip within the next three tenths of a mile, runners reach the intersection with New York Avenue at 16.7 where Narragansett Blvd. becomes Allens Avenue. This "high point", compared to the next couple of miles, offers a distant preview of the Providence skyline before dropping about 40 feet to Ernest Street at the 17 mile mark and continuing flat to Davol Square at 18.55 miles. This 1.85 mile straightaway on Allens Avenue may not be especially scenic, but is exceptionally fast! At Davol Square in Providence's 'Jewelry District', the course turns right and once again crosses the Providence River over the Point Street Bridge to another right onto South Main Street to India Point Park. From the left onto India Street at the 19 mile mark, the course runs flat along the park to a left onto Gano Street at 19.55 miles.
Providence's East Side - stately, yet challenging - 19.55 to 23.2
The uphill climb on Gano Street, cresting at Pitman Street at 21.15 miles, signals the start of a challenging section through Providence's East Side. Here the course gains 55 feet in half a mile, not enough to be classified as a "Heartbreak" type hill, but certainly a difficult stretch past the mythical marathon wall at the 20 mile mark.
Turning right onto Pitman Street, the course gives back what it just took, dropping the same amount (55 feet) as it passes by Brooks Pharmacy at 20.4 miles and continues straight to the bottom at Richmond Square at 20.7 miles. The key is to run conservatively up Gano Street, and use the respite on Pitman Street to recoup and gather energy reserves for the miles ahead. From Richmond Square, the course turns left and follows East River Drive over a short hill, then downhill underneath the Henderson Bridge to the Seekonk River. River Drive continues flat along Blackstone Park past the intersection with Angell Street at the 21 mile mark, just before the Narragansett Boat House on the right. At 21.3 miles, the course turns left and up Irving Avenue on OSM's version of Heartbreak Hill - a 320 yard climb with a 50 feet elevation gain. From the top of Irving Avenue at 21.6 miles, the course turns right onto Blackstone Boulevard and slopes upward to the 22 mile mark at the intersection with Lincoln Street before leveling off and gradually declining to the Butler Campus at 22.4 miles. The next half mile inclines gradually to the Swan Point Cemetery at 22.9, followed by a flat stretch to the north end of the Boulevard at 23.2 miles. While Blackstone Boulevard runs along a popular tree-lined walking / jogging path and showcases stately homes of the East Side's residential area, it is nonetheless a fairly difficult and rolling 1.6 mile stretch, gaining 50 feet in elevation from end to end.
From Hillside Avenue to the Finish - 23.6 to 26.2
Leaving the 'Boulevard' and crossing Hope Street to a quick left onto Hillside Avenue at the Providence / Pawtucket line, OSM climbs to its highest point since the early going in Mount Pleasant, reaching 132 feet elevation before dropping sharply for about 80 yards to a left at North Main Street. The next 1.4 miles slope slightly downward to the intersection with Randall Street (right) and Doyle Avenue (left) at the 25 mile mark, followed by a gentle rise past the University Heights Shopping Plaza to the intersection with Olney Street at 25.3 miles. Then comes a major downhill, Constitution Hill, with a 60 feet drop in elevation to a left on Canal Street at 24.45 miles. Just after the intersection with Smith Street, with the State House this time on the right, runners will pass the Roger Williams National Memorial on a flat track-like stretch to a final right at the Citizens Plaza onto Steeple Street at 25.8 miles. From here it is straight across Memorial Boulevard to Exchange Terrace and up a mild hill past the 26 mile mark alongside Kennedy Plaza on the left. The final two-tenths of a mile are downhill to the intersection with Francis Street, just 160 yards from the Finish on Sabin Street at the Rhode Island Convention Center. Overall the new OSM has a net drop of 64 feet, from 74 feet elevation at the start to 10 feet at the finish. For spectators, from the start at the State House, it is just two tenths of a mile down Francis Street to the Providence Place Mall, at the end of the first 5.5 mile loop, then another three tenths to the finish at the Convention Center. To get from the Convention Center to the 9.5 mile point at the Pineapple Archway on Atwells Avenue, follow Sabin Street from the finish for about 250 yards past the Dunkin Donuts Center to a right at the Holiday Inn. Then cross the bridge over Route 95 to the "Pineapple Archway" straight ahead.
Ray Nelson - USATF Regional Certifier