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May 18. 2013 8:28PM

A great day for a road race


Bedford friends who run every year. (l-r) Kathy Gibbons, Claudette Fessenden, Barbara Obevny, Amy Dalrymple, Amy Clark, Diane Rondeau, Paul Rondeau (HARRY KOZLOWSKLI)

BEDFORD - It was a perfect New Hampshire May morning for the running of the 39th Bedford Rotary Memorial Road Races Saturday.<br /><br />The sun was bright, the skies clear blue and the wind still as 350 runners departed Bedford High School at 9 a.m. sharp.<br /><br />

This community event gets a head start on Memorial Day celebrations, always being held a week before the official Memorial Day weekend.<br /><br />The race began in 1974 but the Bedford Rotary took it over in 1991 after a major race sponsor dropped out. Bill Gere has been the race director for 21 of the years.<br /><br />

Gere says the 12K race attracts serious runners who use the event to prepare for larger events.<br /><br />"Twelve kilometers is about a quarter marathon" said Gere. Some people run the race to prepare for marathons .<br /><br />

Some travel as far as Ohio, New York and Pennsylvania but most runners in these races come from within an hour's drive.<br /><br />And since running is serious business for some, precise timing an measurement is demanded. Both the 12K and 5K courses and measured and certified to within a few meters.<br /><br />

Granite State Race Services provides exact timing of runners thanks to an RFID tag embedded in the runner's number plate. The tag is read the moment they cross the finish line.<br /><br />Only about 40 minutes after the start of the 12 kilometer race, the first runner approached the finish line.<br /><br />

Twenty-four-year-old Eric Ashe of Boston came in with a time of 39 minutes and 4 seconds, a little over 2 minutes shy of the race record of 36:50.1.<br /><br />Ashec joked he started running when he realized "he was too small for football." A member of the Boston Athletic Club, Ashe said he enjoys the personal challenge running offers.<br /><br />

There are modest cash and other prizes for top finishers in categories but the reasons most run are the sense of personal accomplishment, the camaraderie with other runners, and the "high."<br /><br />"Oh. it's real" said Amy Dalrymple of Bedford about the exhilaration a runner feels. "It kicks in about the 4-mile mark, about half way" said Diane Rondeau.<br /><br />

Dalrymple and Rondeau and others run every year as a group of friends and family. "We do it with our friends" said Rondeau. "It's a time we can all get together It's a wonderful event." <br /><br />There are two races held. he 12-kilometer road race comes first and draws serious runners from throughout New England. The 5-kilometer race is more a "fun run" for locals.<br /><br />

Winner of the 5K race was Emmett Clifford of Dunstable, Mass., with a time of 18:46.<br /><br />This year's race featured a party tent for runners to relax, refresh and refuel. Food and drink donated by Hannaford Supermarket, Panera Bread, T-Bones and CJ's Restaurant was served. Masseuses stood at the ready for those who might be cramping up.<br /><br />

It also served as a place for people to catch up with friends and neighbors, to share a laugh, compare race times and maybe brag a little.<br /><br />But even with the warm sun and good friends, thoughts were not far from the tragedy of this year's Boston Marathon.<br /><br />

As a tribute race organizers observed a moment of silence before the 11 a.m. start of the 5k race, along with a singing of the national anthem.<br /><br />The monies raised from the races go to a Rotary scholarship fund for students and Bedford and West High Schools.<br /><br />


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