MERIDEN — The 5th Annual Arc Run Road Race was the biggest yet for the race as Research Parkway was flooded with a record 121 runners, shattering the previous high of 80 competing in the 5K, 10K and walk.
“People were jonesing for a race,” said female 5K winner Laurel Manville. “I was great to be out here again. I was surprised to see so many people.”
The 34-year-old Mansfield resident successfully defended her Arc Road Race 5K crown with a 18:53, just two seconds slower than her winning time last year. She’s originally from West Virginia.
The annual race supports MidState Arc, a Research Parkway based agency dedicated to helping children and adults with developmental disabilities reach their full potential and to advocate and support their families.
“This was one of the first races I did last year when we moved to Connecticut,” Manville said. “I was excited to come support it again. This is my first race since March. I’ve been hanging out with my three and a half year old and eating way too many Teddy Grahams. My running motivation has been in waves all summer with a couple of injuries and a lot of mountain biking. But it was exciting to have an in-person race.”
She was followed by 15-year-old West Hartford resident Julia Lanter. The Kingswood-Oxford School student checked in at 23:49. Nikki Campbell, 25, of Wallingford placed third with a 24:38.
The men’s 5K went to Meriden’s Matthew Michno who won with a 15:58. Michnu, originally from Ohio, has lived in Meriden for the last four years.
“I just like coming out for this charity,” Michno said. “They do a really good job putting on this event for the Wallingford and Meriden communities. Running is secondary. I just wanted to get a good workout. I ran in a marathon a couple of summers ago and got hurt. So I’m just getting back into it. It was good to get out and compete. With everything going on, we don’t get too many of these opportunities.”
Salvatore Masciarelli, 17, of Northbridge, Mass. placed second at 16:21. He was followed closely by incoming Maloney senior Reynaldo Torres, was third in 16:34. Plantsville’s Nicholas Migani, 30, ran fourth in 16:45.
Torres’ coach at Maloney Derek Destefano finished third in the 10K in 39:28. The men’s 10K crown went to Fabian Daza, 39, of Ridgefield Park, New Jersey. Daza dominated with a 34:02.
Berlin’s Anthony Gonsalves, 30, crossed the tape second in 36:52.
The 10K winner was also a repeater. Ludlow, Massachusetts resident Yvonne Bungei, 26, took the crown with a 38:38. The Kenya native edged out former Sheehan standout Liz Fengler by 11 seconds. Melanie Connolly, 42, was the third female to cross the finish line. The Pawcatuck resident did so in 55:59.
Bungei said this was her first race since March.
“I took the lead around four miles in,” Bungei said. “I had fun. Because of COVID there haven’t been many races. I’m please ARC put it together and have this race again. It was great to be back.”
Bungei said he plans on returning to defend her title.Changes, challenges
Of course, with the country still in the midst of the pandemic, the race was anything but typical.
Everything was socially distanced. Masks were worn by all. Runners pulled them off just as they were starting the race. There were staggered 10 second starts between many runners. Also, 11 runners did the race virtually. There was no celebration of the winners after the race. There will be a virtual ceremony online in the coming days. The top three finishers in the 5K and 10K will receive monetary prizes.
“I appreciate the caution and organization that this group has done to get this rolling in person,” Manville said.
Despite the changes and challenges, everyone left Saturday’s event pleased to be back on the course and have some normalcy..
The day opened with the singing of the National Anthem by Arc participant Annie Lynch. It ended with Arc participant Tim Kenney crossing the finish line being pushed by his brother in law Scott Flynn.
“This was really exciting but it was a little more challenging with the social distancing and registration was different, but that didn’t deter,” MidState Arc CEO Pam Fields said. “As you can see, we have a huge crowd and it’s exciting to see so much support for MidState.”
MidState Arc Board Chair Geri Kogut said she was thankful for the Meriden and Wallingford police departments for setting up and keeping everyone safe.
There were also 42 volunteers on site, including 30 throughout the course.
The field jumped up from 20-40 runners in the last three years to 121. Fields said the race raised $21,000.
“This is huge,” Fields said. “We are only funded by the Department of Developmental Services for the most part. Beyond that we rely on fundraising and sponsors. This allows us to provide support and services outside of what they allow and they give us money for so it really helps. We’re working hard to move people into more independence. So we set up apartments, apart from the group homes and they are monitored through remote technology.”
MidState Arc’s vision is “value and acceptance for all,” according to its website.