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home > community > viewpoint > lawrence sons of italy races: honoring our armed forces & veterans

Lawrence Sons of Italy Races: Honoring our Armed Forces & Veterans
Are you looking for a great way to celebrate Independence Day? How about running a race or doing a walk that honors our service men and women in a historical city that has a reputation for welcoming runners? If that sounds inviting then the Lawrence Sons of Italy 18th Annual Road Races are for you!

Lawrence Sons of Italy Races: Honoring our Armed Forces & Veterans

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Event Website

Event Registration

By Dave Camire
Posted Wednesday, 13 June, 2007

Untitled Document

A Quick History Lesson
In March of 1912 the labor strike known as the "Bread and Roses Strike" took place in Lawrence, Massachusetts. A state law had reduced the work week from 56 hours to 54 hours, so mill bosses found a way to make up for lost revenue. They sped up the looms and cut the workers weekly wage of $6 per week. This led to first U.S. strike led by women as 23,000 workers emptied the mills of Lawrence. These strikers are credited with inventing the moving picket line. They did this so that they would not be arrested for loitering. On July 4th of this year another moving line will be passing through Lawrence. However this time it will be comprised of hundreds of runners as we celebrate the many freedoms we now enjoy thanks to those who made it all possible.


"The event is an opportunity for us to honor the men and women of the armed forces and our veterans." Marshall McCloskey


The Races and 5K Health Walk
For the eighteenth consecutive year the Lawrence Sons of Italy will be hosting their 5-kilometer and 5-mile road races, but for the first time it will on July 4th. Previously the race was held in August and October, but when the annual July fourth race in North Andover was cancelled the date became available so the race committee decided to fill the void.

"The event is an opportunity for us to honor the men and women of the armed forces and our veterans," says race director Marshall McCloskey. All participants who run or walk representing a member of the armed forces will receive a certificate with both the runner's and service men or women's names on them. "We even plan on having a color printer on race site to print certificates for those who register on race day," says McCloskey. "It's a great opportunity to honor the men and women who valiantly have served or are serving our country."

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. All youth race entrants will receive a ribbon indicating their participation.

Take a Look at Lawrence
These days Lawrence is experiencing a renaissance. Many of its sprawling mill buildings along the mighty Merrimack River are being converted to condominiums, restaurants and retail space and are again coming alive. This is attracting professionals who have been priced out of the higher housing market of Greater Boston. With its convenient commuter rail, easy highway access and close proximity to the ocean Lawrence is a community on the rise.

However this renaissance is not limited to real estate; the running community of Lawrence has also come alive over the past few years. The famed Mill Cities Relay now finishes in downtown Lawrence and the highly popular Claddagh Pub race has become the largest St. Pats race in the Merrimack Valley. These events follow in the tradition of Lawrence's great races of the past like the Lawrence to the Sea Marathon held in the forties and the Lawrence Eagle Tribune 10-mile race of the 1980's.

One of the reasons for this running renaissance is the friendly environment created for runners in Lawrence. The police and city officials welcome road racing with open arms. Lawrence likes runners and they would like nothing better than for you to take a 3.1-mile or a 5-mile look at Lawrence on July 4th.

Easy to Reach
All the race day festivities will take place from the Sons of Italy Lodge located at 155 Marston St in Lawrence. The hall is easily accessible from Route 495 (Exit 46 from the North or Exit 44-45 from the south). Lawrence is about a 30-minute car ride from Boston. From the seacoast it will take you about 20-minutes and Southern New Hampshire is just a few minutes away.

Parking is free and within a short walk of the Lodge. There will be volunteers directing you to parking areas. It is recommended to come early for the best parking.

All of the race courses will be run within the city limits of Lawrence and will be expertly managed by members of the Merrimack Valley Striders. "Both the 5-kilometer and 5-mile race contain one good size hill," explains McCloskey. "But both races finish on a long downhill."

Race Amenities
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 place male and female finishers in both races will receive cash prizes. The current five mile record holders are Craig Fram (25:43) of Plaistow, 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 300 to enter. Chip timing will be supplied by Yankee Timing Company. Following the race the Sons of Italy will host a pasta feed free to all entrants.

Race Beneficiary
The proceeds to the race will benefit both the Veterans Northeast Outreach Center of Haverhill and Big Brother Big Sisters of Greater Lawrence. The mission of the Veteran's Outreach Center is to provide services to assist, support and advocate for Veterans and their families (please see: The mission of the Big Brother Big Sister organization is to make a positive difference in the lives of children and youth (please see

Volunteer Opportunities
About 500-1000 runners are expected for both races so plenty of volunteers will be needed. Duties will range from assisting with parking, traffic control along the course, helping at water stations or assisting at the finish. Any businesses that could contribute food items in addition to the planned meal would be greatly appreciated. The event could use bagels, bananas, oranges, bottled water, soda, etc. If you are interested in helping out and supporting the associated charities, please contact Marshall McCloskey at or 617-548-9877.

An Event for the Entire Family
Race day festivities offer an opportunity for all family members to participate. There will be a 5K health walk for those looking for a more leisurely pace. The first 50 to sign-up will receive a t-shirt. The walk will begin at 8:15 AM. In addition to the walk, a 1K (.62 mile) youth run will be held at 8:00 AM. The first three finishers will receive medals and all finishers will receive a ribbon.


Lawrence Sons of Italy Race website

Online race registration

July 4, 2007

Start time

500-1000 runners anticipated

Start anticipated to be 70F

Start Times
5-Mile and 5-Kilometer - 8:30 AM
5-Kilometer Health Walk - 8:15 AM
1K Youth Run - 8:00 AM

Registration and number pickup at the Sons of Italy
Sunday through Tuesday
July 1-3, 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM
July 4, 7:00 AM to 8:00 AM

First 300 Entrants - 5K and 5-Mile
First 50 Entrants - 5K Health Walk

Post Race
Free Pasta feed to all entrants

Chip Timing
Yankee Timing

Veterans Northeast Outreach Center of Haverhill
Big Brother Big Sister of Lawrence





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