Story by Kristina Hoti
The Warwick Lions Club hosted the 28th Annual Labor Day 5K & 5 Mile Race/Walk at the Warwick Valley Middle School on Mon., Sept. 2 Hundreds of participants of all walks of life ran or walked the course, with the registrants ranging from ages six to 86, and quite a few parents running or walking with their children in strollers.
Warwick Town Police were present in full force, keeping the runners safe with road closures, and the first-place runner was even escorted by a Police Officer on a motorcycle with sirens blaring and lights flashing in celebration. Warwick Volunteer EMS was also on hand to support the runners.
Food for the race was donated by ShopRite of Warwick, with additional key sponsors being CertaPro Painters, Eye Physicians of Orange County PC, Kennedy Companies, Nationwide- Vogel Moore Agency, Town of Warwick Police Benevolent Association, and Leo Kaytes Ford.
Watermelon, oranges, bananas, and bagels were among the snacks available to runners upon completion of the race. Members of the Lions Club arrived at 7:30 a.m. to cut fruit and bagels in preparation, good-naturedly coining themselves “power choppers.”
Tim Brown and his Cub Scout Pack 177, which is chartered by the Lions Club, were there to volunteer by passing out water at the water table, and picking up cups that runners drop along the course. This was the second year of the pack’s involvement, and one of many things the pack does to earn volunteer hours.
George McManus, Lions Club Member and Race Director, reminisced about the first race, 28 years ago saying, “Coach Tim St. Lawrence was looking to raise funds for the lights for the high school track, and I was looking to raise funds for the Lions Club, so we put them together, and here we are.”
“Coach Saint,” as many generations of kids affectionately called him, succeeded in “Lighting the Lights” after a few years of fundraising, but the Lions Club continued the race in their ongoing efforts to give back to the community.
Retired WVCSD teacher Rich Furst announced the start of the race as participants gathered at the starting point. Second Wind Race Timing provided the high-tech timing system, which involved runners’ bibs imbedded with sensors that tracked individual progress using pads from the starting line to the finish, as well as along the course.
Rain clouds gathered throughout the morning, but the rain held off while runners prepared. Furst joked with the runners, saying “We’re going to provide you with a little rain to cool you off.”
Furst encouraged the crowd to applaud the Lions Club, in thanks for all of the work that they do for the community all year long, and reminded participants to cross the mat at the starting line to ensure that their times would be recorded.
Furst has been involved, announcing the start of the race since its inception, “28 years, and I’ve done every one of them.”
All stood at attention for the singing of the National Anthem, and runners anxiously awaited Furst’s shout of “GO!” upon which event DJ and WVHS alumni Steve Sherer, had perfectly cued the song “Eye of the Tiger,” to inspire the runners at the start.
True to his promise, a light rain began to fall just as the race began, which was no doubt appreciated by many of the race participants on the humid morning. The rain continued throughout the morning, but did not deter anyone, young or old.
The first place 5K male and female winners were Behailu Bekere-Arcuri, with a time of 16:14:58 and Kayla Schramm, with a time of 19:13:72. Second place male and female winners were Adam Stanton with 16:46:67 and Katherine Smith with 19:54:20; and third place male and female winners were Mike Chow, with 16:49:38 and Shanna Beairsto, with 20:04:19.
The first place 5 Mile male and female winners were David Soto with 28:29:80 and Suzanne LaBurt with 33:31:71; second place male and female winners were Kevin Vinolas with 28:47:70 and Jacque Schiffer with 35:09:73; and third place male and female winners were Ben Nilsestuen with 29:37:92 and Jessica Dovico with 36:32:57.