Fred Almgren Memorial "Mayday" Race

The 42th Fred Almgren Memorial "Mayday" Race will be held on Sunday May 7, 2017. This year, the annual race between the Princeton and Rutgers Mathematics Departments will go from Rutgers to Princeton along the Delaware & Raritan Canal towpath. It will begin at 10:00 AM at Landing Lane Bridge (New Brunswick), and end at Alexander Road (Princeton).
The 41st Fred Almgren Memorial "Mayday" Race was held on Sunday May 1, 2016. There were 9 teams competing, and the winning team was Rutgers Physics, in a time of 2:52. Their photo is on the right.
This was the first rainy race since 2009. A one-person "team" formed spontaneously at 10-mile locks, and completed the last 8 miles to the surprise of the timers.

Here are the detailed 2016 Race statistics and the recent history of the race.

picture of winning teams

Here are the race results from the years
2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008,
2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999 and 1998.
Here is a table of all winning teams since 1976.

Here is the link to for a general description of the race and its history. You can also find a leg-by-leg breakdown of the course, and driving instructions with a Google Map of the course in even years.

What is it? This is a 25-mile relay race, run annually in early May. The primary teams competing are the mathematics departments of Rutgers and Princeton University. Begun in 1976 as the "Mathematicians May Day Relay", the name was changed in 1997 to the "Fred Almgren Memorial Relay Race," honoring one of the event's most active participants, Fred Almgren.
The race trophy, engraved with the logos of Princeton and Rutgers Universities and the winners' names, is located in the lounge of Fine Hall at Princeton University. It is presented to the winning team of the race each year.

In odd years, the race starts in New Brunswick (at the Landing Lane bridge) and ends in Princeton (at Alexander Road since 2001). In even years, it starts in Princeton (at Washington Road) and ends in New Brunswick. The race has almost always been held on the first Sunday of May, starting at 10:00 AM.

Recent History

In 2014, the Rutgers Physics team won the 39th Fred Almgren Memorial "Mayday" trophy, with a time of 2:52. There were 11 teams competing.

The race was just a few days after a major storm (see photo); parts of leg 2 were badly damaged, and leg 6 was rerouted through South Bound Brook. In addition, Rutgers Math started running at the wrong location (Alexander Road) and crossed the starting line (Washington Road) over 11 minutes after everyone else.

picture of winning team flooded towpath at Kingston Locks

In 2013, the Rutgers Mathematics team won the 38th Fred Almgren Memorial "Mayday" trophy, with a time of 2:58. There were 9 teams competing, and the Princeton Math team took second place. picture of winning team

In 2012, the Princeton Economics team won the 37th annual Fred Almgren memorial race trophy, with a time of 2:43. There were six teams competing, and the Rutgers Math team took third place. picture of winning team

In 2011, the 3-person Princeton Physics team won the 36th annual Fred Almgren memorial race trophy, with a time of 2:39.
The Rutgers Math team took second place, and 8 teams competed.

In 2010, the Princeton Running Club won the 35th annual Fred Almgren memorial race trophy, with a time of 2:37. The second and third place teams were Princeton Physics (2:54) and Rutgers Math (2:58), and 11 teams competed.

Teams had syncronization issues this year. The Rutgers Math teams were absent at the start of the race, showing up about 90 seconds later. The Princeton Fun Math runner for leg 6 started 16 minutes before the leg 5 runner arrived. Neither event affected the team standings. In addition, this was the hottest race since 1978 (when several runners suffered heat stroke); fortunately everyone adjusted their pace this year and we had no casualties.

The 2009 Almgren "Mayday" Race was held on Sunday May 3, from Rutgers to Princeton, ending at Washington Road. There were 11 teams again, competing in the rain, and the winner was the Princeton "Psych et al" team, with a winning time about 2:40.
This was the soggiest race in years, due to almost steady rain, but the towpath was in remarkably good shape. One team's fourth leg was delayed by 7 minutes, as their designated runner took off in the wrong direction and had to be replaced.

In addition, the clock timing the end of the race broke before the times could be adjusted, so the final times reflect our consensus best guesses.

The 2008 Almgren "Mayday" Race was held on Sunday May 4, There were 11 teams (second most ever), and the winner was the Rutgers Math Fast Fourier Transform team with a time of 2:48. The race was one of the closest in years, with 5 lead changes overall, and the top three teams finishing within one minute of each other.

The 2007 race was held on Sunday, May 6th, from Rutgers to Princeton. There were fifteen teams competing (a new record), and the winner was the Princeton Computer Science Team with a winning time of 2:47. The race was made especially interesting this year because of the poor condition of the towpath after a recent storm, with runners jumping over trees and skirting washed-out sections in places.

The 2006 race was held on Sunday, May 7th. There were three teams competing, and the winner was the Princeton Psychology Team Green with a winning time of 2:59. (This team was an amalgam of Psychology and Economics graduate students.}

The 2005 race was held on Sunday May 1st from Rutgers to Princeton. There were eight teams, and the winner was the Rutgers Physics team, with a time of 3:00. In addition to the math teams from Rutgers, Princeton and the Institute for Advanced Study, there were two Physics teams, a Computer Science and an Engineering team.

The 2004 race was held on Sunday May 2nd, from Princeton to Rutgers. There were three teams, and the Rutger Math team defended their title, with a time of 3:11 for the 25.1 mile course. This was the slowest winning time in the 29-year history of the race.

On Saturday May 10, 2003, the race went from Rutgers to Princeton. There were six teams, and the winner was Rutgers Math with a time of 3:07. In second place was Columbia University, which competed for the first time since 1979.
In 2003, the race was 25.5 miles. The first leg was shortened by about 0.2 miles, and the second leg was lengthened by 0.15 miles, due to construction blocking the towpath.

On May 5, 2002 the race went from Princeton to Rutgers, ending with a picnic in Johnson Park. There were 8 teams, and the Princeton Physics 'A' team defended their title, with a time of with a time of 2:34 for the 25.1 mile course. The Rutgers Undergraduate team ran the third leg in the wrong direction, and their team time was computed "virtually."

On May 6, 2001, it went from Rutgers to Princeton, ending at Alexander Road, near the picnic area. There were 9 teams, including two Physics teams (one from each school). The winner was the Princeton Physics team, with a time of 2:38 for the 25.7 mile course.
There was also a bicycle team for the first time.

The D&R Canal

The race goes along the former towpath of the Delaware and Raritan Canal, which has been a
New Jersey State Park (since 1973), is on the National Register of Historic Places, and was designated a National Recreation Trail in 1992.

The D&R Canal was completed in 1834, as a fast but safe route between New York and Philadelphia, and was closed for shipping in 1932. The main part of the Canal was 44 miles long until the 1930's. The concrete Mileposts found along the towpath give distances "xx-yy". This refers to the distances (in miles) to the original Trenton end (xx) and to the original New Brunswick end (yy), so that xx+yy=44 miles.

Today, the main part of the canal is only 34 miles long. One end is now at the Landing Lane bridge in New Brunswick, near the milepost 41-03; the original New Brunswick terminus of the canal has also been recently restored, and is about 3 miles away in Boyd Park. Between these points in New Brunswick, there is about one mile of the canal which was covered in the late 1970's when the highway, Route 18, was built. Another mile of canal is also covered by Route One, in Trenton.
The Main D&R Canal, along which the race proceeds, is also used as a source of drinking water by several municipalities, providing about 75 million gallons of drinking water each day. So treat the Canal as a Watershed Area.

The Course: Breakdown by legs

Reading down: Odd years-- 25.7 miles -- From Landing Lane (New Brunswick) to Washington Rd (Princeton)
Reading up: Even years-- 25.0 miles -- From Washington Rd (Princeton) to Landing Lane (New Brunswick)

Leg one (3.7 miles)	(remeasured in 2002)	0.0
	0.0 3.7 Landing Lane Bridge, New Brunswick (parking lot across canal road)
	0.2 3.5 Milepost 41-03
	1.2 2.5 Milepost 40-4 
	2.0 1.7 DeMott Lane (access point, parking lot)
	2.2 1.5 Rough paving
	3.5 0.2 Route I-287 overpass
	3.6 0.1 Five Mile Locks (access, limited parking)
	3.7 0.0 Spillway (actually 3.66 miles)
Note: the exchange often happens at Five mile locks, not the spillway
This makes legs 1&2 change length by 0.05 miles.

Leg 2 (4.15 miles)	(remeasured in 2002)	3.7
	0.0 4.15 Spillway
	1.6 2.6 Bound Brook bridge
	1.7 2.4 South Bound Brook Lock, parking and picnic area
	2.5 1.6 Route I-287 overpass  
	3.6 0.6 Milepost 34-10
	3.9 0.3 10 Mile Lock Footbridge (with stairs), No Parking
	4.15 0.0 10 Mile Lock, Parking Area "NJ Water Supply Authority"

Note: Before 2000, when the Parking area was built, the exchange 
took place at the 10 mile lock Footbridge, so legs 2 and 3 were 
about 3.9 and 3.6 miles long.

Leg 3 (3.3 miles)	(remeasured in 2002)	7.8
	0.0 3.3 10 Mile Lock, Parking Area
	0.6 2.7 Zarephath (Pillar of Fire) access, No Parking
	1.2 2.1 Weston Causeway, Manville Road (access, parking)
	3.3 0.0 East Millstone (Amwell Road)

Leg 4 (2.1 miles)				11.2
	0.0 2.1 East Millstone (Amwell Road, parking)
	0.2 1.9 Milepost 30-14
	1.2 0.9 Milepost 29-15
	2.1 0.0 Blackwell Mill's Road

Leg 5 (4.2 miles)				13.3
	0.0 4.2 Blackwell Mill's Road (parking, picnic area)
	0.1 4.1 Milepost 28-16
	1.1 3.1 Milepost 27-17
	2.1 2.1 Milepost 26-18
	3.6 0.6 Griggstown Causeway (parking, picnic area, canoe rental)
	4.1 0.1 Milepost 24-20
	4.2 0.0 Griggstown Locks

Leg 6 (4.4 miles in even years, 4.3 in odd years)  17.5
	0.0 4.4 Griggstown Locks (limited parking)
	0.9 3.5 Milepost 23-21
	1.4 3.0 Little Valley Footbridge (access, limited parking)
	1.9 2.5 Milepost 22-22
	2.4 2.0 Route 518, Rocky Hill (access, parking)
	2.9 1.5 Milepost 21-23
	4.3 0.1 Exchange point in odd years
	4.4 0.0 Kingston Lock, at Route 27

Note: Distance is 4.37 from Kingston Locks towards Griggstown Locks,
but the exchange point is different in the other ("down") direction.

Leg 7 (3.3 miles in even years, 3.9 in odd years)  21.9
        0.0 3.3 Exchange point in odd years
	0.1 3.24 Kingston Lock, at Route 27 (parking lot)
	1.8 2.5 Milepost 18-26
	2.3 1.0 Millstone River Aqueduct (access at footbridge)
	2.7 0.6 Harrison Street, Princton (access, No Parking)
	3.3 0.0 Washington Road, Princeton (limited parking down the road)
						25.1 miles
1999/2001/03/05/07/09/11... end:
	3.9 0.6 Alexander Road, Princeton (0.6 miles further than usual)
						25.7 miles

Usual End of Race.				25.1 miles
End of race in 1999/2001/03/05/07/09/11...:	25.7 miles
End of race in 2003 (due to construction)       25.6

1) All markings "No Parking", etc. are according to State Park guidelines.
Several new access points and parking areas have been added since 1976.

2) When the canal was in operation, the towpath had no trees and was muddy.
There are numerous trees, and tree roots are a danger for runners.
Especially on the legs from Bound Brook to East Millstone.
During 1999-2000, almost the entire trail was given a sand topping.

3) The course was re-measured in 2001 and 2002; several inaccuracies
were corrected, including: 
Leg 1 changed from 3.8 to 3.66 miles (Milepost 40 appears to be mislocated)
Leg 2 changed from 4.0 to 4.15 miles
Leg 3 changed to 3.33 miles
Distance in legs 6&7 adjusted for different exchange points
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Maintained by: Charles Weibel, weibel @, and last modified May -3, 2011