New director signs on to run Shelburne Falls’ Bridge of Flowers races

  • Former director Mike McCusker with Carole Appleton, who is the new race’ director for the annual Bridge of Flowers Road Race. RECORDER staff/DIANE BRONCACCIO

Recorder Staff
Published: 2/14/2017 2:50:09 PM


Recorder Staff

SHELBURNE FALLS — As the founder and 38-year director of the annual Bridge of Flowers Classic Races, Mike McCusker’s shoes will be hard to fill.

But Carole Appleton is well prepared for that role, with at least 25 years of marketing and events-management experience. Appleton became the new race director last month.

Online registration for the Aug. 12, road race begins Wednesday, and Appleton is already getting inquiries from race volunteers and potential race sponsors.

“This will be the first race without Mike (as director), but he’ll still be around,” said Appleton. “He’s been a huge help to me. I’m fairly new to this area.”

Appleton, who recently moved to Colrain, spent 17 years in marketing and sales for two minor-league hockey teams in Springfield before becoming executive director of the Amelia Park Arena and Garden in Westfield. Amelia Park is a nonprofit organization that has a 47,000-square-foot ice skating rink. Among the events Appleton ran during her seven years for the Amelia rink was a sled-hockey tournament for people with disabilities.

“The addition of Carole brings new excitement and energy to the event,” said Carmela Lanza-Weil, executive director of the Greater Shelburne Falls Area Business Association. “As an experienced sporting event promoter, Carole will take an already amazing event and make it even better.”

McCusker is stepping down from running the 10K and 3K (kilometer) road races, which draw about 1,000 runners a year, partially so he can spend more time with his young grandchildren.

McCusker said the job involves “far more work than most people would know.”

“There are a lot of moving parts,” he said, which includes a detailed permitting process to close off roads along the route, and to get the race certified by the U.S.A. Track and Field. The race director must oversee the start- and end-directors, food, water distribution, and the hundreds of volunteers who make the race work.

“It’s really a great way to putting people together,” said Appleton. For now, she said, she is “playing a little bit of catch-up” soliciting sponsorships and recruiting volunteers.

The road race turns 40 in 2018, and McCusker said they will be seeking a designation as a USA Track and Field’s New England Grand Prix Championship race — an honor the race held during its 25th anniversary year.

McCusker said the race attracts runners and their families from throughout the Northeast, who come for the race and then return for other events later.

Runners who want to register can go to the website:

and find information about the road race under the link for “upcoming events.”


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