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Heat wave can’t stop weekly road race

Recorder/David Rainville
Michael Butler, Lindsay Day and son Chance Butler, of New Salem, get a quick cooling off at the finish line, after running three miles in the Northfield Summer Road Race series Thursday. Armed with squirt guns, local kids got in on the fun even if they didn't run.

Recorder/David Rainville Michael Butler, Lindsay Day and son Chance Butler, of New Salem, get a quick cooling off at the finish line, after running three miles in the Northfield Summer Road Race series Thursday. Armed with squirt guns, local kids got in on the fun even if they didn't run.

NORTHFIELD — Thirty-three people ran miles through downtown, in the middle of a heat wave, though nobody appeared to be chasing them.

Weirder still, the runners pressed on, though they knew full well they’d face a firing squad at the end of the line Thursday.

“This was the perfect day for our ‘super-soaker’ race,” said Robert Emberley, organizer of the Northfield Summer Road Race Series.

At the finish line, several children waited, armed with squirt guns. As the runners neared the finish line behind Green Trees Gallery, the kids opened fire.

“The water felt great at the end,” said Michael Butler of New Salem. He ran the race with wife Lindsay Day, and the two pushed 18-month-old son Chance Butler along the course in his stroller.

Chance crossed the finish line before either of his parents, but since he wasn’t registered, his “win” won’t be counted. His parents came across simultaneously, and placed 22nd and 23rd, with a time of 32:34.

The family runs nearly every week, no matter the weather.

“We love the heat, and even the sweat,” said Day. “We’re the ones who don’t complain when it gets hot out.”

It was undoubtedly hot Thursday, but Butler had another way to describe the race.

“It’s chill,” he said. “It’s not super-intense. It’s a great event; it’s family-oriented, but there’s some good competition, too.”

The soaking wet finish of Thursday’s race reminded Butler of one he’s run in Newburyport.

“You go through the historic part of town, and people put up stepladders with sprinklers on top of them, raining down on the racers.”

The road race series was started last year. Emberley, pastor at the town’s Community Bible Church, got the ball rolling with his son, Bobby. The two had participated in a similar race in New Hampshire, and thought it would make a great event for the Northfield community.

“We have some fast runners, but also some real beginners, too,” said Emberley. “One heavyset man despised running, but he did it, and lost 12 pounds over the season.”

This year’s 13-race series is just past its halfway mark. This week will be the “fox and hound” race.

“There will be a staggered start, with racers starting about every three minutes based on their times in previous races,” said Emberley. The goal is to have everyone, regardless of ability, cross the finish line together.

Each weekly race has a different theme. On July 11, it was “Christmas in July,” and runners donned Santa hats and jingle bells. Prizes range from gift certificates for local businesses, to pies, produce, and candy.

The races are open to all, and entry is $3. Show up about 6 p.m. to have time to register before the 6:30 start. Walkers are also welcome, and they start the course at 6 p.m.

For more on the races, visit www.facebook.com/northfieldsummerroadraceseries.

David Rainville can be reached at:
drainville@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261, ext. 279

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