With a joyous vibe filtering through the huge crowd at Shipyard Park, people came together for the 2013 Mattapoisett Road Race. They came from places near and far to be together, to say they accomplished something, to laugh, to remember – to run. The Mattapoisett 4th of July Road Race has become an event many look forward to each year. And there are just as many reasons why people want to be in the race as there are people attempting to finish it.
This annual summer time happening had 1,152 registered runners. The race was opened with the singing of the National Anthem by an outstanding barbershop quartet from New Bedford. Then with the Founding Father, Robert Gardner sitting in a tricked out highway department dune buggy at the lead, the gun sounded and the cheering reached the heavens above as the racers advanced like one giant moving mass of humanity.
Families ran together like the Hughes family of Rochester, mother and two daughters, the Folly’s of Mattapoisett Dad, Mom and two daughters, cousins Shawn Arruda and Jerome Agaran.
Agaran just completed two tours of duty in Afghanistan. At 27 years old he is very happy to be home and to be able to run on two good legs close to home and loved ones. His cousin Arruda age 16 was so glad to have him home he decided to run with him even though it was only the second such road race he’d ever participated in. They wore deep red t-shirt emblazed with the word FREEDOM across the chest.
Bill Folly and his family have run the race for the last eight years. This family of four are very proud Americans with Dad carrying a full sized wooden pole American flag the entire length of the course, unfurling it as he crossed the finish line. When I asked him why he humbly said, “it seems like the right thing to do on the 4th of July.” Indeed, Mr. Folly, indeed.
The females of the Hughes family of Rochester are the runners. Meg, Kate and Mom are veterans of road races and Meg is the same age as her number #11. The two sisters handily completed the race but Mom had a harder time. She reached the finish line with her daughters’ delighted faces waiting for her.
Diane Lee (age 59) got a surprise when her Father, Bill signed her up for the race. He knew she’d be visiting him in Fairhaven over the holiday and that with her love of running races back home in California she’d be game for this little village event. She obliged her 85 year old Dad. I watched him wait with anxious anticipation, with pains in his legs, for his daughter to come on home to him this way.
Steve Bonney, #93 of Mattapoisett took a little longer than some to come across the finish line but he did so in about 2.5 hours in his wheelchair. She wife walked the course with him and her pride in his accomplishment was as brilliant as the smile that graced her lips when she said, “he started at 7:37 this morning.”
Ned Point summer resident Tom Greeley, #323, came across the finish line slick with sweat and squealing with joy. His elation for completing the course on roads he knows so well was a delight many echoed if not so visibly or audibly.
First time entrants Carola Harden, #332, of New Bedford and her friend, Shawna Pires, #611 of Fall River were as beautiful as any Olympic track and field athlete as they came down the Water Street towards the finish line. Their combination of running and walking was the strategy they employed to finish the race as the sun grew in strength and the humidity began to reach its zenith – a perfectly hot July 4th day.
Runner Julia Bendeth-Lomberto, #439, of Franklin was running pushing her baby’s carriage containing little Albie. Albie’s start in life has been difficult causing the family to stand by as he went through numerous medical treatments for a congenital heart condition. Mom often runs road races to raise money and awareness for such medical conditions. At the end of the race Albie was allowed to walk across the finish line powered by his own two little legs. Miracles do happen.
The first runner across the finish line was #245, worn by Jason Eddy, 1998 graduate from ORR, whose time of 27:10 pleased him greatly. There was no one else in sight with the next runner, #5 more than a full minute behind him.
But it was the one-hour mark that saw the bulk of the runners pouring down the street towards that wonderful sign – FINISH. At the beginning of the race all the runners looked fresh and raring to go, at the one-hour mark most were glad it was over but all were happy to have “been there done that.”
Race Mayor, Mattapoisett’s own Danny White, #801, wasn’t sure if he would run the race this year although he had been contemplating doing so for some months prior to committing. He came in with others around the one-hour mark. A noble showing for a reluctant runner.
The Mattapoisett Road Race is a time for some to prove their athletic worth, for others a time to be with family participating in a fun event, or standing on the sidelines cheering on friends and loved ones. And for still others, its an opportunity to expand the public’s awareness of important causes. Whatever the reason, this year’s race will go down in the history book as the classic event it is. For full race results, visit www.racewire.com.
By Marilou Newell
Photos by Felix Perez