Kennett Run 2015: A race of goals, commitment and unity
● By Richard Gaw
When Bob and Jan Curran crossed the finish line together at Saturday's 26th annual Kennett Run after competing on the 5K run, they raised their hands up, clasped them together, and celebrated.
"When I turned 60, I said I was going to do this," Bob explained, adding that he and Jan finished in 40 minutes, which was better than their goal of 45 minutes to complete the 5K course. The Currans said that they both wanted to run this race together. This was Jan's third time taking part in the Kennett Run, but Bob's first.
For the Currans, crossing the finish line was the culmination of a goal – one of hundreds of individual goals that dotted the course from Union and Sickle streets to Anson B. Nixon Park.
Annually advertised as "Small Town...Big Race," the Kennett Run lived up to expectations again this year, as more than 1,500 competitors in several age groups either ran or walked along the 5K and 10K course routes. In addition, more than 100 youngsters from local schools participated in the one-mile FundRun.
Run the Day Race Management served as the official timer for the run. Based in Aston, Pa., Run the Day coordinates the timing for more than 230 races a year in Chester, Montgomery, Bucks and Philadelphia counties, as well as in southern New Jersey and Delaware. At this year's event, competitors were linked into the ChronoTrack system, the leading chip system in the country and one that is used at 95 percent of the biggest races in the United States, including the New York City Marathon.
The favorable weather – which was 71 degrees and partly sunny at the start of the race – helped draw in more last-minute registrations.
"I think we were at about 1,200 competitors as of this this morning, and we saw 200 to 300 more at registration at about 6:30 this morning," said Matt Genereux, the president of Kennett Run Charities. "A lot of it was because the weather is scheduled to be sunny until one or two o'clock. That's classic for the Kennett Run. Pre- registration is one block, but we can always be caught off guard on race day."
About the only potential difficulty that may have detoured the race was quickly repaired by the Borough, Genereux said.
"There was a water main break yesterday at Walnut Street at Tino Lito Fields at the entrance to Anson Nixon Park," he said. "The Borough asked me to consider re-routing the finish, and I suggested that the Borough turn off the water and fill the hole up, and worry about it after 12 noon on Sunday. They filled it with crushed stone and it was nice and dry this morning."
Saying her goodbyes to the Kennett Run this year was Nadiene Ringler-Friedrich who, after four years as race director, is turning over her position to J.J. Simon.
"I love what this race stands for," she said. "Kennett Run Charities does an amazing job of giving back to the community."
In its 26 years, Kennett Run Charities, Inc. has gifted over $1 million back to the community. During the post-race celebration at Anson B. Nixon Park, Melanie Weiler, executive director of the Kennett Area Community Service, said that the funding it receives from the Kennett Run helps the organization provide food to more than 400 local families, every month.
A dedicated team of volunteers make the annual event possible. Elizabeth Perna, director of Kennett High School's Walk in kNowledge Program [WIN], acknowledged the role that student participants in the program play in the organization of the event.
"I think it's very important because we are showing the whole community that we are a part of the community," she said. "Many times, individuals think that the Latinos do not participate in local events, but that's not true. In fact, throughout the school year, we have students who go to all of the schools to help promote The FundRun, and we also help out in the park with water stations and setting up banners."
Claire Finfrock, one of the volunteers who helps bring in vendors for the day, said, "It's so much fun to be a part of a great event. All the profits go back to local charities."
Alexis Traver, an early childhood education major at West Chester University, said that she likes to help out because her mother, Stephanie, is now a board member of Kennett Run Charities. Traver's friend, Jamie Ferree, said that she ran in the Kennett Run for a number of years when she was in elementary school and middle school, but now likes to volunteer on race day.
Leon Spencer, president of Kennett Square Borough Council, who serves as the master of ceremonies said, "It just keeps getting better and better. What impresses me the most is to the see the smiles of the participants from their sense of accomplishment. It's heartwarming every time."