Running Club F.C., Volume 9: Chuck Adams & Cathy Coutu, Greenfield

  • Greenfield’s Chuck Adams, center, stands between Clark Maynard, left, and Eric Maynard, during a previous Don Maynard Memorial Five Mile Road Race in Greenfield. Adams started the race in 1995 in honor of his friend, Don Maynard, and he and wife Cathy Coutu are two integral parts of the Franklin County running community. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

  • Runners follow the caravan of Shriners cars at the start of a past Chase’n A Mason 5K Road Race in Turners Falls. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

  • Greenfield’s Chuck Adams and Cathy Coutu are fixtures in the Franklin County running community. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 4/29/2020 4:55:05 PM

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Chuck Adams & Cathy Coutu, Greenfield

Longevity in the running game doesn’t come easy. Longevity in the road racing community is even tougher.

The Greenfield husband and wife duo of Chuck Adams and Cathy Coutu are among the best Franklin County has to offer in both.

Adams founded the Don Maynard Memorial Five Miler in 1995, in memory of his friend Don Maynard, who was murdered in his Greenfield home the previous year. Some 25 years later, that Greenfield race is still an integral part of the Franklin County running calendar, with proceeds going to the Don Maynard Scholarship Fund. The fund awards scholarships to graduating Franklin County public school seniors.

Coutu helped launch the Chase’n A Mason 5K Run/Walk with son Zack Billings in Turners Falls. The race, which serves as a fundraiser for the charities of the Harmony Masonic Lodge, has reached double digit years, with this fall expected to be its 12th annual running.

Two races with nearly 40 years between them? A rarity in the running community, to say the least. 

“I always say it’s more work to run the race than it is to run in the race,” Adams explained. “You have to have a certain amount of  dedication every year to want to do it. For the Maynard race, it’s about the dedication to the cause, to Don. Certainly it’s about the scholarship money we raise, but it’s about his memory. There are people in their 20s who have no idea who Don Maynard is, and the race is about remembering him and getting everyone together.”

The race takes runners through the Greenfield Meadows, with plenty of time along the Green River. Adams said about 75 people showed up the first year of the race in 1995, and the crowds have been steady ever since, with the 25th running taking place last September.

“A lot of it happens because of volunteers,” Adams said. “That’s the hardest part of races a lot of the time. What’s worked well with the Maynard race, is that there’s a handful of volunteers who just come back every year. I’ll call them five or six weeks ahead of time and they just show back up and do the same jobs they’ve done in the past. It’s almost like, ‘Do I even need to show up myself anymore or can I just go to my post?’”

As for the Chase’n A Mason 5K, Coutu said the event has turned into a fun part of the running calendar each fall. Pouring rain christened the very first event over a decade ago, but these days there’s apple crisp for runners, Shriners driving their tiny cars to open the event, and everything else in between.

“It’s quite an affair now,” Coutu said.

Coutu said that both races have benefited from being part of the Sugarloaf Mountain Athletic Club’s Running Series in the past, making it a little easier to draw runners. On race day, they both try and make the experience as meaningful and fun for runners as possible, knowing full well what it’s like to be on the other side of the equation.

“Being runners ourselves, we work really hard to make sure we treat the runners well,” she explained. “Over the years, we’ve both run a lot of races and we can tell which directors and race committees are in it to make money without considering the participants. We try to go above and beyond to make it a good experience for them.”

Adams said he got into running himself back in 1980. Living in Brattleboro at the time, he decided to try it out when he got a little heavier than he had liked. After running a mile successfully, he rewarded himself with a Milky Way and a newspaper. His interest took off from there.

Coutu eventually joined her husband on runs, saying she admired his dedication to running. That dedication rubbed off.

“When I met him, I was what I would call a trotter, not even a jogger,” she said with a laugh. “I went to a couple of races to support him and then I’d go home and trot. I wouldn’t call myself a runner but I always loved to participate. We have met amazing people and gone to some terrific places so it’s always been a fun thing for us to share. We have each other to talk about running.”

Adams said running with his other half continues to serve as inspiration.

“It’s so motivating to have your partner doing the same things you do,” he said. “On days when I don’t feel like running, she’ll get me out there.”

The pair acknowledged that sharing the experience with the running community in Franklin County is what makes putting on the races so special. Despite being the third least populous county in the Commonwealth, there’s a hotbed of running activity in these parts.

“I think that we’re really lucky to have like-minded people who are into being healthy and kind to each other,” Coutu said. “I don’t always think there’s enough focus on Franklin County. There’s a lot going on here, beautiful places to run and wonderful people to run with.”


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