On This Independence Day Honor Those Who Sacrificed for Us
The Sons of Italy Fourth of July 5K and 5 Miler is an event that celebrates our freedom by recognizing those who fought to keep it.
Posted Saturday, 27 June, 2009
This year’s race will have a special ceremony honoring Army Staff Sergeant Alex Jimenez and other Merrimack Valley veterans who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. Jimenez, a Lawrence resident, was captured May 12, 2007 by enemy forces in Jurf es Sakhr, Iraq, when his unit was attacked by insurgents using automatic fire and explosives. His body was recovered July 8, 2008 in Iraq.
Runners can specify that they are participating in honor of a family member or friend will receive a noting their participation for that cause. This has become a popular feature of the race.
After an eighteen year stint at the Sons of Italy Hall in Lawrence, last year the 5 kilometer and 5 mile road race moved to the newly renovated Veterans Memorial Stadium. The new venue offered many advantages over the previous location. First the stadium is now part of the beautiful and new Lawrence High School complex. It has easy highway access, plenty of free parking and is terrific for viewing. Your friends and family can relax while the race is in progress and watch from the stands as you finish inside the stadium However last year, when the day was a total wash out, runner were able to seek cover in the spacious confines of the stadium and enjoy the after race festivities.
Along with the new venue new courses for the 5 kilometer and 5 mile races where introduced. This was a welcomed change from the previous challenging route. Both courses will pass through the working class neighborhoods of South Lawrence with the five mile race going through the Mt. Vernon section of the city where you’ll find tree lined streets and parks. The 5 kilometer race stays closer to the stadium. The Lawrence Police Department assisted in the course design to insure a safe route for all runners and walkers. Both courses are accurately measured and course certification is pending.
This year both races will start one-half hour earlier (8:30 am) to avoid conflicting with the commuter trains that cross the course.
This year timing of both races will use the innovative D-tag timing provided by Yankee Timing Company. This timing system was first successfully introduced into the Merrimack Valley by Yankee Timing at the Wild Rover Series earlier this year.
Road Racing Resurgence in Lawrence
If any city in the Commonwealth can be singled out as experiencing a road race renaissance it has to be the City of Lawrence. Over the past few years the events in the city have witnessed a tremendous amount of growth. For example, the Claddagh Pub 4-Miler has grown from 107 finishers in 2005 to a record 766 finishers in 2008. The famed Mill Cities Relay, which ends in Lawrence at the Claddagh Pub, experienced its biggest year ever with 191 teams finishing. Other city events such as the Vietnam Memorial 4-Miler in October is also experiencing continued growth. One of the reasons for this road racing resurgence is due in part to the cooperative attitude of city officials and the police department. From the mayor’s office to the guys who sweep the streets, everyone in Lawrence is working in unison to make sure your visit to the city is a pleasurable one.
Even the mayor, the honorable Michael Sullivan, has run in the race. Isn’t it great to see a Massachusetts politician running for something other then an office?
It’s a Family Affair
Families are encouraged to bring their youngsters to participate in a 1K youth race starting at 8:00 am, one-half hour before the adult races. Medals will be awarded to the first 3 finishers in 2 year age groups, 5-6, 7-8, 9-10, 11-12, and 13-14. And all youth race entrants will receive a medal indicating their participation.
Awards will be presented to the first three finishers overall in 5-kilometer and 5-mile races and in the following age groups: 18 and under, 19-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59, 60-69 and 70+. The first thru 3rd place male and female finishers in both races will receive cash prizes. The current five mile record holders are Casey Moulton (25:18) of Pelham, NH and Melissa Donais (30:43) of Bradford, MA.
The 5-kilometer record holders are Frank Row (18:25) of Reading, MA and Peggy Gioioso (20:49) of Methuen, MA. For the 5-kilometer race and the 5-mile race t-shirts will be awarded to the first 400 to enter. Shirts will also be awarded to the first 50 to enter the 5K health walk.
The Sons of Italy will once again by providing their signature pasta and meatballs, along with bread and salad at the conclusion of the race.
The proceeds to the race will benefit both the Veterans Northeast Outreach Center of Haverhill. The mission of the Veteran's Outreach Center is to provide services to assist, support and advocate for Veterans and their families (please see: http://www.northeastveterans.org/).
The Marshall Plan
McCloskey has come up with an innovative plan to stimulate the local running community and to help the sustainability of the venerable Mill Cities Relay. He has invited all members of the Mill Cities Alliance, there are 18 clubs in all, to volunteer for the event. In return for volunteering he will pay a fee back to that volunteer’s club and make a matching donation to the Mill Cities Relay. Imagine that, an event that donates to charity, gives directly back to the local running community, and helps sustain a beloved event! Now that’s a good plan.
On this coming July 4th you will have many races from which to choose. Exercise your freedom of choice and run the Sons of Italy 5K or 5 Miler in Lawrence, MA.