One of the best races of the year is our hometown race. The Bolton Road Race celebrated its 38th year today. We haven’t done 38, but over the past 16 years since Debbie and I have been together, and over the past 11 that we have lived in Bolton, we have done many. This year’s race was unique in that it is the first time I’ve been to a wedding at a race. I had fun as a freelance wedding photographer.
Faith Raymond and Joseph Strafach got hitched in a civil ceremony in the Bolton High School cafeteria just before the start of the five miler. It was fun and inspiring to witness their running love story culminate with the ceremony. I saw them walk down the aisle and then minutes later, they passed me on the first hill of the course. I shot a little video as proof that they dropped me going past Pesces Farm. I’m sure that this is just the beginning of the journey for them. They probably have lots of roads and trails left to run together.
The race has grown every year since Dani Kennedy took over as Race Director. She did another bang up job, bringing 321 runners to the finish line safely. I always look forward to seeing her cheering at the top of the last hill on the course. She as there again this year, offering encouragement to all the runners who passed. This was one of the bigger Bolton Road Races and overflow parking was required at other venues in town. The weather was glorious as this non-winter delivered another mild day. Shorts and shortsleeves were all you needed. The race drew many volunteers from the Bolton Booster Club, the prime beneficiary of the race proceeds.
Those proceeds were boosted by many great sponsors, including our family business, Horst Engineering, celebrating its 70th year in 2016. Several other notable family businesses also supported the race. Worth mentioning are Munson’s Chocolates, also celebrating its 70th year, Highland Park Market, and Shady Glen. The race was the Road Runners Club of America Connecticut State Five Mile Championships. Debbie went for a long run before the race and met us at the start. I jogged the two miles from our house, and my parents were kind enough to drive the kids and meet me there. Debbie raced hard and earned first place in the 40-49 age group. She had a fun “battle” with our friend, Kathleen Shaw, who wasn’t a fan of the Bolton hills, but finished just behind Debbie in the age group.
I ran with our son, who finished his second Bolton Road Race. Our daughter walked the “two-miler” with my parents, Lynn and Stan. Thank you to them. She wanted a gel, and the family rule is that you only consume energy food when you race. She “earned it,” but I still haven’t figured out how a little body can process so much sugar.
The top three men were Alex Norstrom, Jacob Gurzler, and Adam Seften. Alex ran a 27:00 flat, which is a fine time on such a hilly course. Adam was the first Bolton finisher and earned a spot on the 38-year-old trophy honoring that achievement. I came close a few times, but with these young guns, it’s unlikely that I’ll ever get my name on the trophy. Maybe one of our kids will earn that spot down the road. Good news on the gender equality front: after 38 years of men’s names going on the trophy, this year, a new trophy and tradition was started to honor the first female finisher from Bolton. That honor will go to Debbie, which makes me smile. She was fourth woman behind Melissa Stellato, Sara Belles, and Kelly Labanara. Melissa had a fantastic race, and finished in 10th overall in 31:58. Another notable performance worth mentioning was Brett Stoeffler who ran 29:44 for fourth overall, just days after his 49th birthday. Several other Bolton residents earned age group awards, including Laurie Brooks, Ned Kennedy, and Kevin Glenn.
Five mile races are kind of rare, so if you have never raced the distance, join us in 2017 for the 39th Bolton Road Race. I can’t promise that there will be another wedding, but maybe a trend was started today. You never know.