There were no T-shirts, no water stops, no cheering volunteers with cowbells, no medical tents, live bands, or police escorts, just 10 miles of grueling hills, howling winds, and single digit temperatures. Yes, it was the King of Pain Ten Mile Road Race.
Last Saturday, Feb. 8th, sixty seven intrepid runners, walkers, and relay teams lined up for the start of this no frills “fun” run hosted by the Glastonbury River Runners. The pre-race instructions were brief: “Be careful. You’re on your own out there”. Then they were off. A little over an hour later, the first of the participants approached the finish and forty five minutes after that, the final runner came in. In between there were many personal triumphs and many stories to go along with them.
There were people who had never before run a ten mile race, and then there was Neil Caron who had never run more than a couple of miles ever, and chose this event to test his mettle. And there were relay team members like Chris Goff who, after finishing the first leg, just kept on going to the finish.
And then there were those runners for whom ten miles just weren’t quite enough. Laurie DeLuca got within a mile of the finish line when she decided she just needed to add two extra miles and then brought Gary Richards, Tony Maribelli, and Gordon Phillips along with her. And Art Byram, who showed up an hour and a half before the race, asked for a bib, and took off, running the entire ten mile course as a warm up before running the race a second time.
After the race, the main event took place, the potluck brunch. People enjoyed great soup, baked goods, and comraderie, while cheering on this year’s winners. Mike Keenan, who created this race and designed the course (now you know who to blame) presented the top three male and female finishers with crowns and granted them bragging rights for the next year. The three kings were Brett Stoeffler, Joe Hallisey, and Mike Keenan himself. And the three queens were Melanie Sandoval, Lanham Marks-Hamilton, and Brianna Carlson. And the final award went to Sasha from the Willimantic Athletic Club who, with his friend Jack Fulton, came in first place in the canine division for the second year in a row.
But, of course, everybody was a winner. Everyone who had started the race conquered the course and crossed the finish line, and each one of them had a smile on their face. As Art Byram said afterwards, “This is what a running club is all about.” We can’t agree more.