'Running of the Bears' celebrates Clark's Trading Post

Union Leader Correspondent
July 01. 2018 8:29PM
Woodstock Selectman Joel Bourassa watches the start of Sunday's “Running of the Bears 5k race” in the west parking lot of Clark's Trading Post in Lincoln. In the race, which raised money for the Linwood Ambulance Service and also celebrated the 90th anniversary of the family-owned Trading Post, runners wore or carried Teddy bears. (John Koziol / Union Leader Correspondent)

LINCOLN – While several places around the world, most famously Pamplona, Spain, hold an annual running of the bulls, only two small towns in the White Mountains can boast of a “running of the bears.”

On Sunday almost 180 runners, aged 5 to 86, braved the heat and humidity in a 5k road race through Lincoln and Woodstock that served as a fundraiser for the Linwood Ambulance Service and also as a way for the Clark family to say “thank you” to the public.

In 2018, Clark’s Trading Post, which is widely known for its trained bears and its Unobtanium-mine guarding Wolfman, is celebrating its 90th season, said Anne Clark Englert, explaining that she and her family pondered ways of recognizing that milestone while also benefiting a local worthy cause.

At a Rotary Club meeting, family friend Joel Bourassa, who is also a selectman in Woodstock, suggested a fundraising race modeled on the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, but in a nod to the Clark’s anniversary, requiring that every participant carry a Teddy bear of his or her choice.

It was also agreed, said Englert, that the beneficiary of the annual Running of the Bears 5K Race would be the nonprofit, all-volunteer Linwood Ambulance Service.

Founded in 1969, the ambulance service provides basic and advanced life-support level services in Lincoln and Woodstock, and, said Chief David Tauber, it relies heavily on donations and fundraisers.

“We thank Clark’s Trading Post for doing a fantastic job putting things together,” said Tauber, adding that, financially, the Running of the Bears will help Linwood Ambulance “quite a bit.”

He said the ambulance service had three units on the race course Sunday, all equipped with extra ice and personnel prepared to deal with heat-related issues that, fortunately, turned out to be “not as bad we feared.”

That said, the conditions weren’t ideal, either.

“It was very hot and humid,” said Evan Thornton-Sherman, 14, of Waterford, Vt., who placed first overall in the Running of the Bears with a time of 17 minutes 51 seconds.

A competitive cross-country runner, Thornton-Sherman admitted he didn’t know “what to expect” in the race but was nonetheless pleased with his performance, which wasn’t a personal best and that also included his missing a watering station.

The course itself was well laid out, he noted, and enjoyable to run.

Valerie Dae and Laurie Rivera, both of whom hail from Middletown, Del., said that the race course was “lovely” but that where they’re from, hot and humid summer weather is the rule, not the exception.

The women are on a quest to run one race, of varying lengths, in each U.S. State before they turn 50 years of age.

While declining to say how old they are, Dae and Rivera said the Running of the Bears was the 10th race in their “50 by 50” series

Larry Vigus, aka, the Wolfman, kicked off the Running of the Bears by using his shotgun as a starter’s pistol.

He said he was asked by the Clark family to begin the race “due to my great ability of telling time and to having a gun.”

The Wolfman hoped that the runners wouldn’t venture near his Unobtanium mine because he has his hands full already in shooing away the many visitors that pass by it daily courtesy of Clark’s Trading Post and its White Mountain Central Railroad.

“I don’t hate people,” said the Wolfman, who conceded that “some of them are nice,” but “I hate that dang train that brings people out there.”


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