The paths of Old Campus were deserted at 8:30 a.m. on Labor Day — in contrast with the bustling scene on the New Haven Green where thousands of runners from Yale, New Haven and across the country geared up for the city’s 37th annual Road Race.
Roughly 6,300 runners registered for the event’s three races — a 20-kilometer, a 5-kilometer and a kids run — according to Race Director John Bysiewicz. He noted the humidity likely caused a lower turnout in this year’s race; last year’s drew nearly 7,000 runners. Bysiewicz estimated that at least 150 Yalies participated in the race, several of whom placed near the top of their age division.
Sara Locke ’17 placed first in the women’s 20K 13-19 division, Marcus Russi ’17 placed first in the respective men’s division and Colin Hemez ’18 placed second in his division of the 5K.
The largest constituency of Yalies at the race came from Morse and Ezra Stiles Colleges, which each registered teams of over 50 students. Both colleges paid the registration fee for a limited number of runners and sent emails advertising the event to their college.
Operations Manager of Ezra Stiles College Marc Levenson said that after Ezra Stiles Master Stephen Pitti proposed paying for registration two years ago, the college began covering about 30 students’ $35 registration for the 5K. As student interest in the race has increased, the college has raised the number of spots they will fund: last year, the college registered 50 students but this year they upped it to 60, as well as allowing students to sign up for the 20K.
“[The Road Race] is a great way for people to get engaged in what’s going on [in] the city,” Levenson said. “Stiles made a big impression when they started two years ago, and it’s been a great way to show New Haven pride and Stiles pride.”
Ryan Reza ’17, who ran in the 5K, thought that his own residential college, Saybrook, should take up Morse and Stiles’ idea of paying for registration. He estimated that only five students from Saybrook ran the race this year. He said that in order to increase participation in the future, he will propose to the college council that Saybrook pay the registration fee.
In addition to Morse and Stiles, Trumbull college paid for its seven freshman counselors to participate in the run, according to Trumbull FroCo Lorraine James ’15. She said the Dean of Trumbull College Jasmina Besirevic-Regan started the tradition two years ago.
Other student groups and organizations also coordinated groups for the race. Yale Road Running, the University’s club running team, brought 34 students plus a faculty advisor, Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps had several participants, and the women’s crew team rallied eight rowers — including division winner Locke.
Locke, who decided to run the race less than 24 hours before it started, said she was surprised when she found out about her win. Locke ran under the name of her teammate Casey Wizner ’17 because Wizner registered for the race but was unable to compete due to tendinitis.
“Yesterday I said I would run for her, because why not?” said Locke, who ran the 20K in an hour 28 minutes and 37 seconds.
The 20K race began at 8:40 a.m. on Elm Street, wound around Yale University and through the Westville neighborhood, ending back on the Green. Two minutes after the 20K race started, at 8:42 am, the 5K began. For the first time, the race included separate starting lines for men and women in order to reduce congestion. Men started at the corner of Temple and Chapel and women started at the corner of Church and Chapel. The two courses joined on Trumbull Street.
Along the course, hundreds of fans were cheering, and several bands and DJs lined the course to rally the runners.
Although the road race began in 1978 as a general run, in 1993 it became the National 20K championship. This year’s race featured three female Olympians: Amy Hastings, Blake Russell and Molly Huddle, who won the women’s 20K.