40th Bridge of Flowers race has plenty of contenders

  • Contributed photo—

Staff Writer
Published: 8/10/2018 10:29:14 PM

SHELBURNE FALLS — This year’s 40th anniversary Bridge of Flowers Road Race Saturday may have more women runners — and more contestants than preceding races, according to founder Michael McCusker.

The 3K and 8K races take place this morning, beginning with the Steve Lewis Subaru Charity 3K at 8:15 a.m., followed by the Big Y 8K at 9 a.m.

Although the 8K race was shortened from 10K in previous years, “it’s the toughest road 8K in New England,” said McCusker.

By the time online registration closed Wednesday, 810 people had registered for the two races. With at least 200 more entrants expected to register either at Friday night’s Spaghetti Fest or early Saturday morning, McCusker expects this year’s race to finally break the 1,000-person milestone. “Last year, we had 927,” he said.

“I’m calling this the ‘year of change’ — new course, new race director,” said Sue Monohan, who has taken over as race director. “I think it’s going to be a good race.”

This year’s race has more women entrants than men, which has been the case for about the past six years, according to Monohan.

Several years ago, with a goal of gender parity, race organizers divided the starting line with men on one side, women on the other. The reason, McCusker said, was so women didn’t feel crowded out by the men runners at the onset of the race.

“We now have 54 percent to 55 percent women,” he said. “We have been all about gender parity. We equalized all the prizes and money even back in the days when there were far fewer women,” he said.

Also, for the past three years, members of the Mohawk Trail Regional School cross-country girls’ team has been carrying a silk, flowered flag behind the first women who come across the finish line — so that spectators can easily see and cheer the first women who finish.

“So now, the women runners come across the finish line with as much appreciation as is due,” said McCusker.

This year, in honor of the anniversary, every 8K runner to complete the race will be given a commemorative medal. Also, besides staffing a “misting tent” near the finish line, Greenfield Savings Bank will be handing out freeze pops to those finishing the race.

Another change this year has been that race competitors have the option of buying one or more T-shirts with the race logo on it. The T-shirts are still given out free to the many race volunteers.

To accommodate the road race, the Iron Bridge will be closed Saturday morning at 7 a.m. Signs have been posted along the other roads along the race courses, telling motorists when to expect delays.


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