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Runners compete in inaugural Run the Runway 5K at Meriden airport

MERIDEN — On Sunday, over 200 runners from the Meriden area came together for the inaugural Hartford HealthCare, MidState Medical Center Run the Runway 5K race at Meriden Markham Municipal Airport.

Although the sun was shining, the wind blew hard enough at times to pose a challenge for some runners.

Derek Destefano, Meriden Running Club race director, said he was very excited about the event and the turnout of runners.

Destefano noted that they had close to 230 runners for the race.

“This race is more than I could have hoped for,” Destefano said. “We are planning on doing this every year. This is an exciting opportunity for our community.”

Proceeds benefited MidState Arc, an agency that helps individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

The opportunity to run on the runway provided something unique, and helping MidState Arc provided a chance to help the community come together for a great cause, Destefano explained.

Flights were suspended during the event, though Hartford HealthCare’s Life Star critical care helicopter performed a fly-by before the race.

MidState Arc began as a community of parents who advocated for children with intellectual disabilities. Today, the non-profit operates with the same inspiration to provide a wide range of services.

Destefano said that the planning for the event started about a year ago.

“It's so unique to be on a runway, and there are no races in Connecticut where you can do just that,” Destefano said.

State Rep. Jack Fazzino was among the runners and was exhausted after the race as he said he was just getting back into running.

“It was a long but fun race,” said Fazzino, who represents the 83rd House district covering parts of Meriden, Berlin and Cheshire. “I saw this posted in one of the community newsletters a few weeks back and started to get back into running. I was a big runner as a kid, but since then, I’ve taken up more swimming because I have horrible knees.”

Before the 5K race took off on the runway, there was a kid's fun run. Kids from toddlers to pre-teens participated in the race.

“It was really fun, but it was hard to run on the runway,” Katie Overstrum from Wallingford said. “I would have expected it to be easy since it was all flat, but the wind made it challenging.”

Overstrum ranked first in the women’s category and third in the race.

Billy Hunt from Brookfield made first place overall, while Joe Decker from Meriden placed second overall.

Other runners included Katie Guerrette from Plantsville, Chelsea Shaw from North Haven, and Ryan Fleming from Durham.

Among the spectators was Mayor Kevin Scarpati, who could be seen watching mid-race as the runners passed the halfway mark.

“This is an amazing event, and I’m thankful for all the volunteers who put this event together because this is something exciting, and we’re able to embrace our airport,” Scarpati said. “This is an awesome day for kids, families, and runners to enjoy all Meriden Markham offers.”

The littlest runners, like Aria Branigan, 6,  and Austin Branigan, 4, ran the race and enjoyed it.

“This was their first run ever, and it was a nice opportunity to try something cool at an airport,” Sarah Branigan said. 

Branigan supported her husband, who was also running in the race. 



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