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Northfield Road race breezes through library

  • Runners took a detour through the Dickinson Memorial Library during the weekly Northfield Summer Road Race Thursday.<br/>Recorder/David Rainville

    Runners took a detour through the Dickinson Memorial Library during the weekly Northfield Summer Road Race Thursday.
    Recorder/David Rainville Purchase photo reprints »

  • Runners took a detour through the Dickinson Memorial Library during the weekly Northfield Summer Road Race Thursday.<br/>Recorder/David Rainville

    Runners took a detour through the Dickinson Memorial Library during the weekly Northfield Summer Road Race Thursday.
    Recorder/David Rainville Purchase photo reprints »

  • Runners took a detour through the Dickinson Memorial Library during the weekly Northfield Summer Road Race Thursday.<br/>Recorder/David Rainville
  • Runners took a detour through the Dickinson Memorial Library during the weekly Northfield Summer Road Race Thursday.<br/>Recorder/David Rainville

NORTHFIELD — Nearly four dozen people ran full-tilt up the steps and into Dickinson Memorial Library right around closing time.

They weren’t trying to beat late fees on overdue books — in fact, they didn’t even stop at the circulation desk. They just kept on running, up the stairs to the second floor, then down to the basement and right out the back door.

It’s a phenomenon that happens once a year, a staple of the Northfield Summer Road Race Series.

“I’ve run in a lot of races, but never one that went through a library,” said Richard Clark, of Feeding Hills, who placed third Thursday in his first Northfield race.

Race organizer Robert Emberley and his family try to keep the weekly runs interesting by holding themed races.

“Next week is our ‘Christmas in July’ race,” he said.

Don’t be surprised if you see Santa sweating profusely when the race ends around 7 p.m.

Other themes include a “fox and the hound” race, where the slower runners start first so everyone finishes at the same time, as well as a squirt gun finish to help runners cool down, and a “race for mediocrity,” where the person who finishes in the middle of the pack gets a prize.

Thursday’s prize was, appropriately, a $25 gift card for Barnes and Noble Booksellers. It didn’t go to the first-place finisher, though, because the winner was picked at random.

Emberley said prizes are awarded in a different way at each race, so everyone has a chance to win.

“One week, we had a ‘Let’s Make a Deal’ night,” he said. “The first-place runner got to pick between two boxes, one that held a good prize, while the other had a junk prize.”

Nobody walks away from the race empty-handed, though. There are plenty of smaller prizes on hand, like cartons of blueberries, snacks and other small items.

The weekly races are held every Thursday at 6:30 p.m., leaving from the parking lot of Northfield Coffee and Books. Registration is $3, which helps cover expenses and provide prizes.

Emberley said he’d like to beat the record of 55 racers by the time the season wraps up at the end of August. He’s trying to encourage high school cross country runners to try the 3.3 mile race, and is willing to waive the registration fee for them.

He’d also like someone to beat the course records. On the inaugural race in 2012, Aaron Stone completed the course in 18:19, and nobody’s knocked him out of first place yet. The women’s record is held by Natalie Maco, who ran 21:05 last Fourth of July.

Thursday wasn’t the night to break any records, though. Emberley said the library leg of the race added an average 45 seconds to each runner’s time.

Nathan Santerre of Sunderland placed first Thursday with 21:13, followed by Owa Hughes at 23:04 and Richard Clark of Feeding Hills at 23:07.

Full race results, photos and details on themed races can be found on the series’ Facebook page at: goo.gl/Jlwpti

You can reach David Rainville at: drainville@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 279 On Twitter, follow @RecorderRain

Is this run like a HASH run? With a down-down at the end? Do they even have HASH runs in Massachusetts? If you don't know HASH runs then too bad for you, they are a blast

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