Apple Harvest Road Race; Record numbers turn out despite weather conditions

By John Goralski

Sports Writer

Corinne Griffin clenched her son Collin’s hand at the front door of the YMCA and watched a crowd of wet volunteers shuffling through the entrance hall with arm loads of equipment from the Apple Harvest Road Race. Her son had pre-registered for the Little Fritter Fun Runs, but they had missed it because of issues with their one year old and the torrential rains.

She was waiting for a chance to ask for a t-shirt for her son when Justin Hubeny saw them at the door. The YMCA youth program director wasn’t about to let a Little Fritter down. Hubeny led them to the gym.

“It was full of people playing basketball, but Justin got them to stop. He had the kid running around the gym, and he got a standing ovation and high fives from those guys playing basketball,” said Apple Harvest Road Race director John Myers. “Those are the kinds of things that make this a special event. Here’s a kid that didn’t even get a chance to run with everyone else, but we were able to give him an experience for a lifetime.”

On Sunday, Oct. 6, Griffin might have been the only one to beat the weather as intermittent rains showered the annual Apple Harvest Road Race, but that didn’t stop runners from running. Record numbers finished both road races and hundreds more braved the weather for the 2-mile walk and Little Fritter Fun Runs.

With almost 360 runners finishing the main event and the 5K field swelling over 830 runners, the 2013 race attracted more than 1,751 participants.

“I’d say that Mother Nature really can’t dampen the spirit of this race,” said Myers. “I was amazed at how many people signed up and showed up. It was tremendous. Usually, we get a lot of people signing up on the day of the race. That registration was down a little bit, obviously, because of the rain, but the ones that signed up certainly came.”

For the third straight year Chris Rosenberg claimed the overall title. Despite conditions, Rosenberg (25:26) pared almost a full minute off of last year’s time. Jim Rosenberger (26:59) finished second overall for the fourth year in a row and won the Dave Gworek Memorial Award as the fastest local man. Kelly Browning (35:03) claimed the women’s title, and Jennifer Manware (36:50) was the fastest local woman.

Mark Hixson (16:49) set the pace in the men’s 5K race, and Britany Henninger (19:27) won the women’s title. Myers said that the times were a reflection of the work from volunteers and police.

“They were all ready for the rain, and they did a great job of keeping it a nice, safe course,” he said. “The times were still good even with the rain. The 5K records were broken for both the men and the women, and they were great times. They weren’t locals, but they did a good job setting new records.”

This marked the first time in almost a decade that no Southington runner claimed an overall title, but local runners fared well. Southington athletes won 14 of the 23 division titles in the 5K race and scored five division titles on the five-mile course.

Myers said that the future looks bright for local runners.

“It’s clear that the youth movement is alive and well in Southington,” he said. “I think you’ll find that the 15 or 16 year olds and younger scored something like 15 spots in the top 50 of the 5K race. The youth are definitely out there. It was like a sea of red with the DePaolo kids all wearing their red shirts out there, and that was cool. It’s what we want to do. We’re building a whole new generation of runners out there.”

Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy (24:32) braved the weather with three state policeman and finished in the top 80 of the 5K race. Almost 140 runners in green shirts challenged the course for the Team Lauryn fundraiser. Middle school runners ran with school jerseys, and the elementary schools participated with 30 three-team relays for the second annual Y Cup competition.

“This is a great hometown race, and the amount of people watching at the finish line was incredible,” said Myers. “I think that the enhancement of having it finish on Main Street was great because it added a nice festival feel at the end. We were able to have people lined up on both sides all the way down Main Street, and it was a great way to finish.”

5 Mile Road Race

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