WALLINGFORD — The YMCA held its 44th Fishbein/YMCA Community Road Race on Sunday morning.
Proceeds will fund LiveSTRONG, a YMCA program supporting cancer survivors, and other Y programs and services.
The race included a 5K run and a one-mile walk. In total, about 180 people participated. It started and finished at the YMCA east side branch on South Elm Street.
Although the 2020 the race was held partially virtual, this year’s race was held fully in person. YMCA Executive Director Sean Doherty said his organization wanted to create an environment where runners felt safe.
Instead of runners starting at the same time, there was a staggered start that left at least 30 seconds between groups.
Masks were available to anyone who wanted to take extra precautions. Food and snacks weren’t sold, but bottled water was available.
“We’ve got a great following of our loyal runners,” said Doherty. “We aim for everybody to have a good time, stay healthy, follow a healthy lifestyle, especially during the pandemic.”
One loyal runner is 71-year-old Edward McCarver, who has participated each year since the race began.
“I love to compete. Running has been a passion of mine since my twenties,” said McCarver. “Running does more for me mentally than it does physically. It mellows me out and I feel less stressed. There is a feeling of peace when you run and it is very enjoyable.”
The race began after a brief speech by Mayor William Dickinson Jr. and a performance of the National Anthem by 12-year-old Georgia Scott.
“Why do we do this? For community. For the Family Y,” said Dickinson. “And for each of us participants, it’s about health and safety, a wonderful cause for the entire community and the fellowship involved.”
Twenty-five year old Elizabeth Fengler bested the rest of the field in the 5K race. A high school cross country and track and field coach, Fengler has been running Fishbein/YMCA Community Road Race since 2014. She has won the women’s category many times, but Sunday was only the second time she also finished in front of all the men in the race.
Fengler offered advice to runners:
“The most challenging part is getting over that mental hurdle of going for a run every day,” she said. “Running a little bit each day, even if it’s just two miles, is better than running nothing.” she said.