After a two-year absence, we are all just happy to see the New Bedford Half Marathon returning in a couple of weeks. None of us are likely to ever take our favorite events for granted again.

We're not going to lie, though. We were just a little disappointed to learn that runners won't be handed the traditional cup of steaming hot chowder and a fish sandwich upon finishing the 13.1-mile road race.

No Chowder or Fish Sandwiches

Yes, it's true.  The chowder and fish sandwiches which have been served at the end of the road race for decades are taking a hiatus. The tradition is being put on hold, an indirect byproduct of the pandemic. Supply chain issues for two long-term sponsors of the race are preventing the clam chowder and sandwiches from happening, according to race director Dan McCarthy. Instead, more traditional post-race foods will be served, including bagels, cookies, apples, bananas, and granola bars.

"The chowder and fish sandwiches are so New Bedford. We love it, and it's breaking our hearts that we can't do it this year," McCarthy says.

How Did The Chowder and Fish Sandwich Tradition Begin?

The post-race meal used to be at Carney Academy, and the school's lunch team would come in over the weekend to cook the chowder and prepare the fish sandwiches. The founders of the race, including Dr. Larry Finnerty, Marty Flynn and James Ryan, had the support and encouragement of the school.

The chowder and sandwiches were an efficient way to feed people. It made sense. They were just taking advantage of the resources that were offered.

When the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick shadowed the race in 2008 and 2009 before taking it over, it was just one of those things that stuck. They liked the tradition. The following year, the registration and the post-race meal were moved to the YMCA. And so were the chowder and fish sandwiches.

"Blount Seafood sells us our chowder at a significant discount, and our vendor for the fish patties asks to remain anonymous," said McCarthy. "John Saunders (and an army of people to help) fry up more than 2,000 fish patties in our fryolators."

Will The Chowder and Fish Return?

The tradition is expected to return as a part of the New Bedford Half Marathon next year. This year's New Bedford Half Marathon will take place on March 20. Many use the race as part of their training for the Boston Marathon. 

Best of luck to all of the runners!

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