I ran my first Falmouth Road Race in 1992. I had just lost my first bid for elected office, and thought that waving to adoring fans for seven miles while taking a leisurely jog along the coast would be a great campaign stunt for the next election. That thought changed before I hit the Church Street Bridge. Anyone who has completed the 7.1 mile course of one of the world's premier road races knows that, fit or not, veteran or rookie, the winding course from the Capn' Kidd to the Casino offers challenges to even the most experienced runner. I can remember vividly walking, no, limping, past the mile 6 marker and getting a boost from some cheering friends as I approached the final turn near the Falmouth Yacht Club. As I wiped my brow and donned my neon pink 102nd Fighter Wing baseball cap to some folks I recognized through my exhausted haze, I plodded my way up heartbreak hill. Near the crest of the pinnacle of Falmouth Heights, I spotted a photographer taking what appeared to be official photos of the runners. I burst into my most athletic stride, forced a smile through the pain, and my first and only professional action photo was born. I finished a few feet later and can still remember the wonderful support of the volunteers tending to me, obviously knowing I had no business taking on such a feat.
Many Falmouthites took on the same challenge last weekend, perhaps without the self-imposed drama of my first attempt, but with a personal goal nonetheless. Here's a tribute to many of our friends and neighbors who finished and deserve recognition:
Former neighbor and friend Sandee Parkinson deserves special recognition as the first Falmouth female, but also as one of the fastest women overall. I'd be hard pressed to ride a bike from Woods Hole to Falmouth in the time it took Sandee to breeze through the course. Hubby and local doc Greg had a nice finish as well. I saw a smattering of McGills in the results. UMass-bound Dan took the family trophy, finishing in an impressive 48 minutes, but brother Drew was not far behind, followed by sister Ally making a respectable finish, and even Dad Jay and Mom Margie proudly crossing the finish line - what a great family event!
Even though my Fisherman's Cove friend and neighbor Matt Palanza was bested by his wife Meghan, he gets kudos for completing the course, much like the tandem of Janice and Bob Brown. This wasn't chivalry folks, it was the ladies outrunning the guys, plain and simple.
It was music to my ears to see two former FHS bandleaders, Tom Borning and Peter Cook, finish. I remember George Killory, III as a kid; now he's finishing the road race and racing toward 30. Speaking of kids, it was fitting that Race Director Rich Sherman's financial services ad was on the results page; it was almost as though he was smiling upon the results of daughters Elizabeth and Catherine, demonstrating togetherness in finishing within a second of one another.
Falmouth Town Hall was well represented, with ZBA members Dennis Murphy and Ken Foreman breaking the tape (Dennis gets the Zoning Board bragging rights), Wastewater guru Gerry Potamis extending the line, and Rec Department veteran Joe Olenick having some fun. Town Manager Bob Whritenour completed the race just ahead of trusty Assistant Heather Harper, and even Police Chief Anthony Riello took the final step to assimilation into his adopted hometown, finishing with a respectable time.
Newlywed Kevin Mikolazyk took a break from his new found bliss to make the trek, as did timeless road race vets Ron Pokraka and Don Delinks. Tim Lineaweaver took a break from making the world a better place to improve his own health, and Main Street mainstay Dave Jarvis left the ‘deck to make the trip.
Enterprise chief Bill Hough crossed the finish line; I wonder if former staffer Dan Webb was waiting to take his pic after his seven mile jaunt.
We all know of the value of the race - the people and dollars it brings into town, and the hundreds of thousands raised for charity by runners. The greatest value, though, are stories like these - stories of personal triumph, perseverance, and families making memories together.
Speaking of memories, I must admit, my first Falmouth was also my only. I haven't made a second attempt. Next year, maybe?
This column is reprinted from the Falmouth Enterprise.