Normally a day for New Haven running enthusiasts to simply enjoy the city courses, this year’s New Haven Road Race was tempered by a solemn memorial for the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11th attacks.
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A week before the one-decade anniversary of the attacks, the memorial was held 10 minutes before the race, and featured bagpipes and a brief moment of silence. But the somber commemoration did not dampen the race’s energy or hinder its success — in fact, this year’s event attracted its largest turnout ever. The race, which has been sponsored by the City of New Haven since its inception in 1978, drew nearly 7,000 runners, besting its 2010 turnout by more than 500 participants.
Frank Alvarado, vice president of the race’s board of directors, said that volunteering was a pivotal part of making a large-scale event like this successful.
“We’ve been around for 34 years,” he said Monday. “If it weren’t for volunteers, we couldn’t get it done.”
The large turnover required approximately 7,000 square feet of tents for registration and medical needs. To provide the runners with a closed course, New Haven police blocked off Elm, College and Temple Street around campus.
New Haven Mayor John DeStefano Jr. was present at the race, and chatted with onlookers after the event began.
“The first mile went by a lot faster than I’m used to, but overall it wasn’t a bad race,” said Darren Walben, who was one of the first to finish the 5-kilometer race.
The deeper significance of the day was not lost on the race’s participants and attendees.
“Though I did not lose any members of my family or friends on September the 11th, memorials such as these are important because they remind us to never forget that day,” said Luis Moncada, a student at the University of New Haven.
The winners of the 20-kilometer, 5-kilometer and kids’ races, respectively, were Abdi Abdirahman and Muad Hrezi, both of Kenya, and Laura Rosado, 11, of New Haven.