PLAINVILLE — Sprinklers helped save the day as runners defied the heat to take part in the 12th Annual Chips Family Restaurant 5K Road Race Sunday.
Elizabeth Mashiak, of Newington, said residents putting out those sprinklers in their front lawns was just one part of the solidarity which set it apart from many of the other races she’s done. She was joined on the run by around 50 members of the Run 169 Towns Society, a free running club which helps members do an organized run in every town and city in the state.
“Everyone had so many great things to say about this one, so we knew we wanted to be in it,” she said. “This was an awesome community feel. The amount of volunteers they had, it’s amazing.”
Those volunteers included around 60 Plainville students, who cheered for racers as they crossed the finish line, cleaned up after the race and handed out cups of water - or poured them over the heads of some racers who were feeling the heat.
The race took place on July 21 and started at 9 a.m. in front of Plainville High School. It took East Street to Stillwell Drive down to its terminus at Rosemont Drive, which it followed to Arcadia Avenue. It then used Higgins and Dallas Avenues to reach Woodford Avenue, from where it returned to the high school via Woodland and Locust Streets.
“It was a fantastic turnout, we were very happy,” said Race Director Bob Heslin, estimating that they had between 500 and 600 runners this year, plus a few hundred participants in the 1.3 mile fitness walk. A half dozen businesses also served free ice cream, fruit and drinks for racers, along with around 1,000 pancakes served out of the Chip’s Family Restaurant food truck.
Heslin believes the race is such a success because residents and businesses see the work done by the Petit Family Foundation, which receives all the proceeds from sponsorships and entry fees.
Formerly known as the Petit Road Race, the event matches the Petit Family Foundation Golf Tournament as one of the nonprofit’s two largest fundraisers and has raised around $1.1 million in the 11 years leading up to Sunday. Foundation President William Petit Jr. said the support allows them to provide scholarships for local high school graduates and grants for organizations addressing violence against women, among other causes.
Superintendent of Schools Steven LePage said he feels compelled to join the runners each year to show his appreciation for the support the foundation has given to local students and initiatives in the schools. Aside from getting a new personal best time, he said he was glad to see the range of people that come out for the race.
“It brings everyone together around a common cause,” he said. “It’s good for students to see (the) community out together.”