Fireman’s 5K Race Results

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The year’s first finisher in the Fireman’s 5K Race on June 4 was Charles Brydges, 15, shown about two yards from the finish line.

Photo by Lester Smith

The year’s first finisher in the Fireman’s 5K Race on June 4 was Charles Brydges, 15, shown about two yards from the finish line.

The weather couldn’t have been better on Sunday morning, June 4, for Suffield’s popular race, to which runners come from all over Connecticut and a few other states. As usual, the crowd was brightly colored by the blue tee-shirts of the Markowski Dental team and the red shirts of Paul’s Peeps, honoring Paul Simison, along with many other labeled participants.

Kathy Dunai fired the starting gun shortly after 9:00, and a grand swarm of runners, walkers, and stroller-pushers set out down South Grand Street. The first to cross the finish line next to Spaulding School on the Bruce Park driveway, with a time of 18:18.4, was young Charles Brydges, 15, a freshman at Suffield High. The first female finisher, and second overall, was Kristina Gracey, of Rutland, Mass., coming in at 18:51.3.

The last recorded finisher was the 250th; somewhat fewer than last year. Coming in at 179th was Debbie Miner, reportedly the first ever to finish the race in a wheelchair. She was part of a family group, with spouse Don Miner pushing and daughter Kristina Miner keeping company. (Kristina is a serious runner, holding back this time to stay with her family.)

Among the trophies and special awards, after the first, second, and third male and female runners were recognized, was the Paul Simison Healthy Spirit Award, handed out by Nancy Simison to Beth Kraseman for the Suffield Academy team. This award and the race itself memorialize the late Paul Simison, the firefighter who founded the Suffield Firemen’s 5K in 1996 and had run every race until his accidental death in 2012.

SFD Chief Chuck Flynn gave the Family Group Award to Kristina Gracey for the Gracey family; the Fastest Team Award was won by the Suffield Academy team. Another special award this year went to the newest royal member of the Run 169 Towns Society, whose members aspire to “Do Every Blessed Town in Connecticut.” The award went to the club’s new Queen, Caryn Vita of Norwalk, who had with the Suffield event reached the club’s goal of running an officially timed race in all 169 towns.

Many other participants, though unrewarded officially, could feel an inner satisfaction for having completed the race, especially Toni Rowse, who finished last in her class of women, 60 to 69. She had spent several years in a wheelchair with rheumatoid arthritis, but recently got a bone transplant and a new hip joint. She was happy to have been able to walk the 5K distance.

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