Rain Was Fine for Firemen’s 5K

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First finisher Dan Krasemann crosses the 5K finish line at 16:51.8 in the Firemen’s 5K Race on June 5.

Photo by Lester Smith

First finisher Dan Krasemann crosses the 5K finish line at 16:51.8 in the Firemen’s 5K Race on June 5.

June 5 was the 20th anniversary of this great series, now designated the Paul Simison Firemen’s 5K, and the occasional light sprinkle was just right for helping the runners thrive. This is a race that attracts a wide variety of ages and abilities, and 345 runners and walkers registered this year.

There were many who had registered as groups, the most prominent of which wore the bright red T-shirts of “PAUL’S PEEPS, Running in Celebration of the Life of Paul Simison.” The blue shirts of the “SMILE” team were also prevalent; they were sponsored by Dr. Eugene Markowski. The black shirts of “Run 169 Towns” were notable, as well. Those shirts read “DEBTiConn;” which turned out to mean, “Do Every Blessed Town In Connecticut,” a goal that only one member has reached. According to the official timer, every town in Connecticut has a race, even Union. But only one is sponsored by a Firemen’s Association.

The results print-out (available at USAXC.com) listed 296 finishers, with times from 16:51.8 to 67:39.6. First overall was Suffield’s Dan Krasemann, age 14, of the Suffield Academy cross country team, at a pace of 5:26 minutes a mile. The last participant to be recorded was little Camryn Stokes, age 4, also of Suffield, who walked across the line 0.3 seconds after her mother, Angela. (This was the second year with electronic timing; a computer chip was stuck to each bib.)

The first female was Kristin Gracey, 33, now of Albany but a Suffield native. Following five adolescent boys, she clocked in sixth, at 18:58.2.

After the main awards were handed out, Nancy Simison, whose volunteer firefighter husband, Paul, had founded the race in 1996, announced that about a quarter of the 98 runners in that first race had returned to race this year. Jerry Bland, in fact, had participated in every one. Ron Kirschbaum, one of the returnees, was the winner of the 1996 race. Nancy gave mementos to all the returnees.

Paul Simison had managed and run every race until his death in a head-on crash on Mountain Road in 2012. (The other driver was sentenced for negligent homicide.) Paul intended that the race would improve the health of the town where he had been deeply involved in community service and physical activity. So each year now the “Healthy Spirit” award is given to someone who embodies that spirit. This year it went to Bob White, of West Suffield, who, at age 71, had finished at 43:03.2.

Suffield’s Paul Simison Firemen’s 5K is another reason to be proud of our town!

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