On Monday morning, while many slept in to enjoy the Labor Day holiday, a few thousand others gathered at the New Haven Green at 8 a.m. to participate in the 39th annual Faxon Law New Haven Road Race.
The event, always held on Labor Day, has for many years drawn both Elm City residents and those from surrounding cities to tread the New Haven streets. This year, 4,883 participants ran in one of the race’s four distances: five kilometers, 20 kilometers, or the more well-known half-marathon at 21 kilometers. Those too young to lace up for these lengthy events had the opportunity to participate in the “Kids Fun Run” event, a half-mile loop between Temple and Church streets.
“I’m surprised with how well [the race] went. I expected not to survive at 8:40 in the morning, but considering we didn’t really train, it went well,” said Romy Vassilev ’19, who participated in the 5K race.
Vassilev said New Haven had a unique atmosphere on Monday.
“Running through the streets without any cars was fun. I ran through parts of New Haven I hadn’t been to before,” Vassilev said.
The race’s official website describes all three run courses as “flat and fast.” Because of their setup, the courses gave runners a thorough view of New Haven, particularly the half-marathon and 20K courses, which travel past Yale University, East Rock Park, “picturesque Westville neighborhoods” and the traditional New Haven Green, from where the race both starts and finishes.
Despite its historic legacy in the city, there was some worry that the 39-year streak could be broken when it seemed as if tropical storm Hermine might bring adverse weather conditions on the day of the race.
As of Friday, New Haven had been under a Tropical Storm Warning issued by the National Weather Service for the state of Connecticut. But over the weekend the storm shifted its path and plans for the road race were unaltered, according to a press release from Mayor Toni Harp’s office.
“Plans for the annual New Haven Road Race, scheduled to be run Monday morning, remain in place at this hour,” the Sunday night statement read. “City officials are working with race organizers to ensure the safety of all participants and spectators and will change plans for the race accordingly.”
In fact, it turned out that those who made it out to the race on Monday morning were greeted with blue skies and amenable temperatures.
Joe Guerra, for example, ran his second-ever New Haven Road Race Monday, brought along by his daughter Jacqui Guerra, who ran her third. The father-daughter pair from Guilford run other races around the state, but both agreed New Haven’s race was something special.
“It’s more lively. Neighbors are outside their houses,” Joe Guerra said, adding that the live music along the race route helped him keep pace through the race.
The race also serves as the USATF 20K national championship. This year, Leonard Korir and Aliphine Tuliamuk finished first in the men’s and women’s events, respectively.
They were not the only ones to come away with success. Tim Foldy-Porto ’20, a freshman in Timothy Dwight College, came in sixth place in the 5K event. Timothy Dwight Head of College Mary Lui said it was “amazing” that the first time her college decided to sponsor runners for the event, a student finished in the top 10.
Foldy-Porto, who ran cross-country and track and field during his high school career, said the race conditions were “perfect” and that the track was very fast. Still, Foldy-Porto said he was only pleased with the results, not thrilled.
“It’s been six months since I’ve run a competitive 5K, so I’ve sort of forgotten how to race it,” Foldy-Porto said. “I had too much energy left at the end, but that’s something I can work on this season.”
He does not plan on trying to walk onto the track and field or cross-country teams at Yale. Foldy-Porto prefers running for “the fun of it.”
Monday’s race had a dash of fun itself. At the end, those who completed the course were greeted with a post-race party that included live music, free food and beer.