By KEVIN ROBERTS
The Apple Harvest Road Races mark their 40th anniversary this year by honoring the past and continuing to be a huge part of the Southington community. John Myers, longtime race director and former CEO of the Southington YMCA, will be the Grand Marshal of the Apple Harvest Parade.
“A great tribute to someone who has committed his entire YMCA career to helping people reach their full potential,” said current CEO Mark Pooler. “We are proud of him and fortunate to have him back again this year leading the race.”
The 40th Apple Harvest Road Races will take place on Sunday, Oct. 6, beginning at 8:30 a.m. with the five-mile race and two-mile walk. The 5K starts at 8:45 a.m., with both the five-mile and 5K races starting at the top of Columbus Boulevard. The two-mile walk starts in front of the YMCA. The Little Fritter Runs start at approximately 9:45 a.m. on North Main Street by the Town Green. Performance-blended T-shirts will be given out to the first 1,200 racers who have registered. The age divisions for the five-mile race are as follows: 7-10; 11-15; 16-19; 20-29; 30-39; 40-49; 50-59; 60-69; 70-79; and 80-plus. The age divisions for the 5K are as follows: 7-10; 11-13; 14-16; 17-19; 20-29; 30-39; 40-49; 50-59; 60-69; 70-79; and 80-plus. For more details or to become a sponsor, go to the road race home page at www.sccymca.org/apple
There is only one big change to the road races, and it’s sure to be a lot of fun for all involved.
“The only major change to the format of the Y-Cup where instead of a three-person relay, it is now all fourth and fifth-grade runners getting the chance to run the last 1.1 miles of the race and finish up in downtown Southington with tons of people cheering for them,” Pooler said.
Pooler is looking forward to his first race as CEO.
“This is a great community tradition and staple event for the Apple Harvest. I hope to keep the same feel and success as in years past and build on the foundation that John Myers has built in recent years,” Pooler said. “He has done an amazing job with this event and has a passion for running that he shares with each of the participants. We are excited to have him back as the race director and I am happy to continue to follow his lead on this event.”
Pooler, who has worked at the local YMCA in some capacity since 1990, sees many different elements that contribute to the success of the road races.
“There is a lot that goes into the Apple Harvest Road Race; we start planning months in advance,” Pooler said. We have great support from the Southington Police to keep the roads safe, amazing YMCA staff and volunteers to help in all aspects of the race, generous sponsors that help keep the cost of the race down.”
There are several groups who run in memory of loved ones lost in recent years.
“Team Adam and Jim” run in memory of Adam Levin and Jim Maffiolini. Levin died in June 2013 and was just 25 years old. Maffiolini, who was very involved in the community, battled pancreatic cancer until his death in July 2014.
“Team SMSAA” supports the Southington Middle School Athletics Association. Middle school sports were cut in June 2017. The YMCA partners with SMSAA to help raise funds, Pooler said.
“Team Lauryn” runs in memory of Lauryn Ossola, a former YMCA Stingray and Southington Lady Knights swimmer who passed away in 2011 at the age of 23 after being hit by a car. The Lauryn E. Ossola Lady Knights Swim and Dive Team Scholarship is given out to a graduating senior on the team that will be attending a four-year college or university.
When looking at the road races overall, expect more fun and great running.
“The Apple Harvest Road Race is a community tradition that is a special part of the Apple Harvest Festival. It is always so great to see so many people come out and participate in our hometown race,” Pooler said. “I believe our community looks forward to the event and we as the YMCA are very proud to put this on for the greater Southington community.”
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Kevin Roberts, email him at KRoberts@SouthingtonObserver.com