RUNNING: Meriden club taps the legend of the Black Dog of West Park for new race

reporter photo

MERIDEN — Maloney cross country coach Derek Destefano is starting a new Silver City tradition around Halloween with the Black Dog Road Race.

The first edition runs at Hubbard Park this coming Sunday, Oct. 30. There will be 5K and 10K races as well as a kids Fun Run. The action starts at 9 a.m.

“We wanted to start a fall event because we have the Memorial Mile and the Daffodil Dash,” said Destefano, referring to other annual city races. “We wanted to do one more big fall event around Halloween, which is a better way to include the Black Dog. This kind of captures that spooky side of Meriden has to offer and also offer a fitness event.”

The Legend of the Hanging Hills Black Dog is local story that goes back more than 100 years.

“It’s a tale about a mysterious black dog on the West Peak of the mountains, and the legend states if you see it once, it will bring you good luck,” Destefano recounted. “If you see the black dog the second time, it will lead to bad luck, and if you see him the third time it will lead to death.

“There’s local legend that countless people have seen it. There’s a book about it. There’s a story of a geologist that saw it and fell off of a cliff. It’s interesting. Spooky stuff that keeps people interested.”

Destefano has deployed Edison Middle School art teacher Justin Piccirillo to provide Black Dog artwork for the race and the winning medals.

“Justin is a local historian who loves Meriden and is an asset to the city,” Destefano said. “I’m hoping to get him to come to the race and have him tell a story about the park.”

Destefano said Hubbard Park is one of the toughest 10Ks in the state because it gains over 750 feet of elevation in the first 3.1 miles. He expects about 100 runners for the inaugural race, with an even split between the 5K and the 10K.

“It’s going to be a great day,” Destefano said. “Our kids run is completely free and we will have candy. We are trying to encourage our families and kids to get involved in something fun on Sunday morning.”

The race is presented by the Meriden Running Club and the Meriden Parks and Recreation Department. Proceeds collected from the event will benefit the Meriden Running Club and the Meriden Parks and Rec youth and fitness programs.

To sign up and for more information, visit


More From This Section