No Quit in Briand

            Dan Briand has maintained his unique standing as the lone runner to participate in all 50 years of the Mattapoisett Road Race. 

            A newly-minted Bourne resident nearing age 64, Briand was only a 13-year-old summer resident of Mattapoisett when he ran the inaugural race in 1971. Having grown up in Taunton and attending Coyle High School where he ran cross country and track, the Mattapoisett Road Race was a perfect offseason event, smack dab in the middle of summer.

            He finished at 32:11 in the second Mattapoisett Road Race in 1972 to win the Junior category.

            “It is amazing how it took off. It didn’t take very long,” said Briand, noting that the race grew from barely beyond a dozen the first year to about 25 the second, then to 300 within a few years.

            Briand, who ran at the University of Rhode Island before beginning a successful career in finance, attributed the fast growth of the race to the “running boom in the ’70s and ’80s.”

            He didn’t set out to run the race every year as much as he set out to win it, which he never did.

            “I finished second a couple of times, I never won it. I suppose that kept me coming back for more,” said Briand, who used to run road races throughout Massachusetts and Rhode Island. “When I was no longer a threat to win it, I figured I might as well keep going… Five miles is always a little hard for me; 5k’s are a little more manageable.”

            A staple of the race, Briand was known by many and got to know many others, including the late Dave Jenney whom Briand remembers as a “darn good runner.”

            As a humorous example of the manner in which the Mattapoisett Road Race grew on its participants, Briand recalled the story of Jenney’s European vacation.

            “He and his wife were in choral group headed to Europe for three weeks, and… he says to his wife, ‘What do you think if I flew back?’” said Briand, laughing at the memory. Janney did not, but years later would confess, “I wish I had.”

            It was no surprise that Briand signed up for the 2020 virtual race, thereby extending his streak from the event’s 1971 start. But motivation to continue is as clear as watching his son Patrick, a 2016 ORR and 2020 Bentley University graduate, join in the fun.

            “It is a shame those seniors in (ORR) high school got beat out of their graduation, their prom and spring sports. It was nice we could do something,” said Briand, who attended the Saturday morning ceremony honoring late race founder Bob Gardner with a plaque, appropriately arriving at the end of his Saturday morning run.

            Briand loves the event and plans to keep racing.

            “As long as I’m healthy – I’m 63 – I hope I’ve got another 10 or 12 in me,” he said.

By Mick Colageo

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