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MERIDEN — The Summer Fun Run series has been a staple of the Meriden Parks & Recreation Department lineup since Roy Gooding established it in 1970.
Not even a pandemic can snap the string.
Fred Bucchieri, the current director of the Fun Run, has received the green light from the city’s health and park departments to start the 2020 series on July 1.
Per recent tradition, the Fun Run will be held every Wednesday evening, through Aug. 19, starting at the Platt track at 6:30 p.m.
Runners will again traverse the well-established flat and shady 3-mile course from the high school, down the Hanover Pond Trail to Dossin Beach and back.
And yet, of course, this summer will be unlike any previous one. While infection numbers in Connecticut are down and the state has been reopening in phases, social distancing remains the main line of defense against the spread of COVID-19, and it will be modus operandi at Fun Run events.
Runners will be spread out at the start of races. There will be no bathrooms on site.
There can be no handshaking or high-fives. Runners must bring their own water and follow social distancing precautions before and after events.
“There are a few things that we have to abide by, but in general I’m happy the city said it was OK and the school was good with us being over there,” said Bucchieri, who has been running the Fun Run since 2003. “I was thinking it was definitely not going to happen a month or two ago as everything else around was getting canceled, and things even in the fall were getting canceled.”
Running, though, is about as risk-free as it gets on the sports/coronavirus spectrum. As a sport that can be done with social distancing or individually with no sharing of equipment, running is classified as “lower risk” in the guidelines the CIAC will be following to restart scholastic sports in Connecticut later this summer.
Those CIAC guildelines are drawn from Gov. Ned Lamont’s reopening plan for Connecticut as well as recommendations from the National Federation of High School Associations and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
For cross country, the CIAC guidelines suggest staggered starts and, in keeping with recommended crowd sizes, outdoor practices of no more than 50 people.
The Meriden Fun Run races usually see about a dozen runners, with a busy night drawing twice that number.
The races are open to residents and non-residents. There is no entry fee. The 3-mile adult race is followed by a ¾-mile run for kids around the Platt athletic facility.
“Weather permitting, we’ll get eight runs in,” Bucchieri said. “Obviously, if there are some issues in the state, with the governor changing the rules or something gets modified — under these conditions anything could happen, I guess; I would hope not — but if there’s no change in the guidelines for Connecticut, we should be able to get them all in this year.”
That would be keeping with a tradition that has passed the half-century mark and continues to put miles on its shoes.
“It’s been a long time,” Bucchieri said. “It’s been a good summer event and it’s been well enjoyed by the community, that’s for the sure.”