Saturday, December 6, 2008
Walk, Or Run
There had been a lot of ballyhoo about the Mayor Higgins' Hot Chocolate Run broadcast over the radio, newspapers and Internet the past few weeks. There were claims of 2500+ participants and thousands of dollars raised, all to benefit victims of domestic violence through the Safe Passage program. It all sounded like quite a big deal; I had to see it for myself. I made a point of getting up a little earlier than usual for a frosty Saturday morning, getting my cohorts similarly up and moving, and trucking up to Northampton for a look at the event.
The Hot Chocolate Run is actually a Run/Walk. You can walk 2 miles, or run for 5 Kilometers. (apparently you must run metrically). When we got there, the walkers, who started first, were already on the return leg of their loop, and were filing back along the sidewalk and street edges towards the starting point on Strong Ave.
Eco-Friendly transport stood by at the ready...
We took up positions in front of the Town Hall, just in time to hear cheers going up in the distance. Then the lead runners suddenly burst out from down around the corner and spearheaded a colorful, rapidly thickening stampede up Main Street.
The main body of runners were soon storming by, bolstered from the sidewalks with encouraging hoots and hollers from the spectators.
Obviously not everyone was a pro runner, but everyone appeared to be up to this charity task.
Both sides of the street became thick with runners and walkers moving in opposite directions and differing speeds. Participation was definitely in the thousands.
The running horde tromped by for several minutes, then began to thin out, became a trickle, and the last of them were gone. The majority of the walkers on the other side were now back on Strong Ave...All was quiet on Main street again...temporarily.
We took this chance to warm up with some coffees, and repositioned for a view of the runners' return trip. After several minutes, and similar to the way they tapered off going up Main Street, they began to filter back down the street again with the lead elements filing by, mostly singly. The central body of the group now appeared again, but noticeably more spread out than on the way up.
Some were trotting by still in good form, some looked a little winded, and some were just happy Polar Bears.
We paralleled the now long, strung out line of runners, and walked down towards the finish line on Strong Ave. On the corner of Main and Pleasant streets, some drummers provided a running beat to encourage the remaining trotters...
At the finish line local media personality Kelsey Flynn emceed the action and called in the runners. She also egged on radio talk show hosts Bill Dwight and Jaz Tupelo as they came in, rounding out the last of the pack. The radio hosts generated several thousand dollars in sponsorships themselves, through publicity on their morning radio program and the chronicling of Dwight's improbable training for the event.
From there, the weary but jubilant participants crowded around for their prize: Steaming cups of hot chocolate, in mugs emblazoned with drawings by "Rhymes With Orange" comic strip artist Hilary Price.
The run was over, and lived up to all the ballyhoo.
Kudos to the organizers and the Mayor of Northampton for what appears to have been a highly successful charity event...