Newtown’s Kevin Hoyt and Zach Schwartz led a field of nearly 500 participants in the 39th Annual Rocking Rooster Run at Fairfield Hills on June 15. Both former Newtown High School distance running standouts finished the 5K race in a time of 15:09. Hoyt, 22, narrowly edged out Schwartz, 24, to claim first-place honors.
“He was a step ahead of me at the end, but it was very close,” said Schwartz, adding that he enjoys running alongside a friend. “It’s great — a lot better than running alone. It’s much better motivation and keeps you moving fast.”
Hannah Schwartz, Zach Schwartz’s sister, was the top female participant, finishing in 19:52. The 15-year-old was 11th overall. “It was pretty exciting,” said Hannah Schwartz, adding that a little break after her high school track season combined with on and off training prepared her to do well.
Runners/walkers — 464 of them — were treated to sunny skies and comfortable temperatures in the low 60s for the 8 am competition the day before Father’s Day. “Great day. We got it in just before it got hot,” Hoyt said.
Mark Gerace, race director, said it was safe to say this the closest and was one of the fastest finishes in the history of the Rooster Run. “It was a great, fun day,” Gerace said.
Gerace added that he was thrilled to see so many groups and families participate in the event. Proceeds from the Rooster Run benefit the Newtown Scholarship Foundation. Dr Laura Nowacki of Newtown Center Pediatrics and Gerace combined efforts to honor victims of the Boston Marathon bombing, in addition to remembering victims of 12/14. All proceeds from $5 children race entries will be donated to the Park Gift Fund in honor and memory of the Sandy Hook children who lost their lives on 12/14. Sponsors, including Newtown Center Pediatrics, will match these donations and send the money to Boston Marathon organizers to hold a Boston Memorial 5K Kids Run in honor of those lost during the Boston Marathon bombings.
Some participants ran for personal best times, others for the fun of doing something with friends and family.
Dale Bajcer ran the course, which took a path through and around portions of the Fairfield Hills campus, with his 8-year-old daughter, Amelia.
“The best Father’s Day gift ever — holding her hand, running the course — doesn’t get any better than that,” he said.
“I liked it. I loved it actually,” Amelia added.
Newtown’s Christopher Gamble, 16, was third in 18:41. Weddington, N.C.’s Peter Ovendorf, 19, came in fourth in 19:05. The next nine finishers — fifth through 13th — represented Newtown/Sandy Hook. David Oelberg, 49, was fifth in 19:13. Oelberg led a group of 67 runners in his age bracket, and was followed closely by 47-year-old Matt Zamary in sixth, with a time of 19:22 (and second in the 40–49 age category). Joshua Bent, 13, was seventh in 19:23 (and won the 1–13-year-old category), Tyler Dullinger, 15, was eighth in 19:36 (and the fastest in the male 14–18-year-old results), and Andrew Mangold, 21, was ninth, also in 19:36 (and second in the 19–29 age category).
“It’s a great day. It’s fun to just try to keep passing people,” said Mangold, adding that he ended up doing the entire race with an untied shoelace. (Knot a problem).
David Conrad, 48, came in tenth in a time of 19:46 (and was third in the 40–49s). After Hannah Schwartz, Sean Kemsley, 17, finished in 12th in 20:14 (and second in the 14–18 grouping), and Bob Burvsank, 46, was 13th in 20:19.
Other Newtowners in the top 25 were: 15. Chi Ryder, 40, in 20:41 (and the second fastest female); 16. Knute Johnson, 16, in 20:47 (and third among the 14–18 finishers); 17. Luke Albrecht, 34, in 20:51 (and won the 30–39 grouping); 18. Maggie Beardsley, 13, in 20:55 (and the third fastest female); 19. Dylan Bartlett, 13, in 20:57 (and second in the 1–13 age bracket); 20. John Ross, 49, in 20:58; 21. Nathan Kalra, 17, in 21:00; 22. John Faircloth, 40, in 21:00; 24. Tim Helmig, 44, in 21:15; and 25. Michael Buchetto, 52, in 21:15 (and the winner of the 50–59s).
Newtown’s Gary MacRae ran with his daughter Darien and son-in-law Josiah Grover, of West Point, N.Y. The Grovers’ two-and-a-half year-old, Sam, was born with degenerative liver disease and needed a transplant. Grover, who is in the Army and said he will be deployed to Afghanistan in the winter, was the donor and the transplant took place at Yale-New Haven Hospital in 2011. They were thrilled to be able to run the race together, and Darien Grover, 36, was second in the female 30–39 age grouping, with a time of 23:09.
Another interesting story within the story of running the race was that of 82-year-old Newtown resident Irene McCarthy. The Rooster Run was her first road race, and she finished in under 39 minutes, good for second in her age category of 60 and over runners (see related story).
Age category winners not mentioned above are as follows:
Female 1-13 winners were: 1. Madison Findley, 13, in 22:17; 2. Carlie Smith, 10, in 24:23; 3. Isabella Gerace, 8, 24:27.
Female 14–18: 1. Cary DeYoung, 15, 21:43; 2. Siman Derviseuic, 16, 22:00; 3. Anna Guay, 17, 22:25.
Female 19–29: 1. Elizabeth Genest, 23, 21:33; 2. Amanda Black, 24, 24:16; 3. Jennifer Lyon, 22, 24:47.
Female 30–39: 1. Ali Cordova, 25, 22:19; 3. Shawna Nickerson, 31, 23:20.
Female 40–49: 1. Marsha Turek, 30, 21:56; 2. Diane Hayes, 47, 23:00; 3. Jennifer Carello, 43, 24:01.
Female 50–59: 1. Cory Benson, 56, 21:32; 2. Alice Genest, 51, 22:19; 3. Dianna Hill, 54, 29:04.
Female 60 and over: 1. Joan Manfredonia, 67, 31:02; 3. Elizabeth Eaton, 71, 40:42.
Male 1–13: 3. Colby Fowler, 12, 21:46.
Male 19–29: 3. Brian Kowalsky, 23, 20:37.
Male 30–39: 2. Kenneth Bereski, 32, 21:05; 3. Greg Hays, 33, 21:47.
Male 50–59: 2. Dave Genest, 56, 21:22; 3. Michael Beaudry, 51, 22:43.
Male 60 and over: 1. Aram Nahabedian, 61, 25:12; 2. Raymond Randall, 65, 26:57; 3. Jim Roddhuyzen, 63, 27:29.
The Rooster Run is the first leg of the inaugural Newtown Race Series. The other two races are the fifth annual Newtown Road Race in September and the Newtown Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving.
For complete results, visit www.newtown-ct.gov, click on the Parks & Recreation tab on the left side of the webpage, and select Rooster Run Results.