Saturday, August 5, 2023 • New London, CT • Course Map
Set for its 61st annual running in the late summer of 2023, the John & Jessie Kelley Half Marathon is one of the longest-running and most beloved races in New England, having been selected by New England Runner magazine as “race of the year” and one of the 80 best road races in the region multiple times — and it has no entry fee.
(Yes, you read that right!)
The fee to enter the John & Jessie Kelley Half is $0 — though entry is limited to the first 1,000 runners who sign up. The race began as a 12-mile run back in the early 1960s, when the organizers of a local athletic event known as “Schafer Day” decided to add a running portion to their slate of swimming contest at Ocean Beach Pool, followed by a fireworks show at the New London Pier.
Since then, the race has grown from just 19 starters that first year — New London native John J. Kelley won the first race, a 10.5-miler — to a few hundred over the next several years, to the thousand or so who sign up for the race each year today.
Runners start the race at Ocean Beach Park, a 1/2-mile-long beach made of “sugar sand” that’s been featured in the likes of National Geographic as one of the world’s best beaches. Here’s how the local tourist bureau describes it:
Ocean Beach Park faces the Long Island Sound where it meets the Atlantic Ocean, and boasts a half-mile of soft, “sugar-sand” shores, giving beachgoers plenty of room to spread out, and plenty of opportunity to build that perfect sandcastle. A truly family friendly destination, the beach is lined by a wide-plank boardwalk where shade-seekers can find covered benches, as well as binoculars offering coveted views of New London Ledge Light and even across to Montauk on a clear day.
From there, you’ll follow roughly a clockwise loop route around New London and nearby Waterford, with stretches along Great Neck Road (and through Harkness Memorial State Park), North Shore Road and Rope Ferry Road.
While it’s run entirely on paved roads, those roads take you through a combination of parkland areas, rural roads and more populated areas, especially the final few miles of the race that run past the New London Harbor Lighthouse.
Expect the terrain to be mostly flat with a few rolling hills, organizers say; the biggest hill occurs around mile 8, with a “long hill” there, they say.
Race Weather & Climate
Nestled along the coastline of Long Island Sound in southern Connecticut, roughly a 2 1/2-hour drive from New York City and about 2 hours from Boston, New London typically experiences its second-warmest month of the year in August, with average temperatures between the low 60s and about 80°F and 6 days of rain during the month.
- Aug. 5 average low temp: 66°F
- Aug. 5 average high temp: 78°F
- 2021 John & Jessie Kelley Half Marathon results
- 2019 John & Jessie Kelley Half Marathon results
- 2018 John & Jessie Kelley Half Marathon results
- 2017 John & Jessie Kelley Half Marathon results
See the race route map for the John & Jessie Kelley Half Marathon here.
Course Time Limit
To reserve your spot in the 2023 running of New London’s John & Jessie Kelley Half Marathon race, register online at RunSignUp.com here.
Official Race Website
Ever run in the John & Jessie Kelley Half? Share your thoughts about the race here, especially anything about the course/terrain you think other runners might want to know.