FALMOUTH – These were, admittedly, the late comers. The people near the end of the line to board the buses down to Woods Hole to the starting line of the 2017 New Balance Falmouth Road Race. There were mothers and daughters; fathers and sons; best friends; couples; whole families, lined up to board buses to take them to the starting line.
They weren’t the elite runners, but they were among the thousands—12,800 this year, according to the Falmouth Road Race website—running the iconic seven-mile race along the shore from Woods Hole to Falmouth Heights.
The hundreds of buses taking runners the several miles down to Woods Hole began boarding at the Lawrence School at 5:45am and kept boarding until 8am. Those with lower bib numbers get to board first. But this story is about those at the end of the line, lining up from 7:30 to 8am, to get the last buses down to Woods Hole.
This year’s Falmouth Road Race kicked off for the first competitors, the wheelchair racers, at 8:40am, followed by the elite women at 8:50 and the elite men and everyone else at 9am.
Needless to say, a lot of work goes into the logistics of getting those thousands of runners down to the starting line in time. This being the 45th running of the Falmouth Road Race, these details are down to a science. But there is no accounting for those who got a late start, got caught in traffic around the center of town, or could not find a parking spot.
At the Lawrence School around 7:30am, those near the end of the line to board the buses to go to Woods Hole were happy to have made it in line in time, as the frantic search for parking intensifies the closer it gets to 8am.
There was Savannah Roth, 17, of Fairhaven who was in line with Pam Hegarty, 52 of Concord. Hegarty is a friend of Savannah’s mother and a serious runner, having run nine marathons. They were running on behalf of ALS Compassionate Care. This was Savannah’s second year running Falmouth.
Savannah’s uncle, Eric Johnson, died recently of ALS. They were running as part of the Tucker Mountain Trotters. Tucker Mountain is the street where Johnson lived.
Rachel Mace, 20, was running with her father, Bill Mace, 53, of Stoughton. Rachel had run Falmouth “seven or eight times,” while Bill was running for the 15th time.
“I’m ready as I’ll ever be. Just trying to make it to the finish line,” Rachel said.
Bill said, “We do it as a family. It’s a thing that brings us together.”
Also running for ALS Compassionate Care were Michaela Castelline, 20 of Framingham, Maggie Fitzgerald, 21 of Medway and her father, Kern Fitzgerald, 55, of Medway, who is Michaela’s uncle. Michaela’s father, Paul, died of ALS in 2015. Kern said the family had summered in Falmouth for many years and running in the Falmouth Road Race has become a tradition, part of the family’s annual week-long gathering in town.
For Sean Morris, 15, of Franklin, this was his first Falmouth Road Race. He was running it with his father, who was running Falmouth for the fifth time but admitted he felt “undertrained.”
Bill Laberis, 66, a cancer patient at Dana Farber, was part of a group running on behalf of the Dana Farber Cancer Patient Center. He declined to predict the time it would take him to finish the race.
“I just want to finish,” he said. He was running the race for the fifth time and, he said, the last time. “I’m taking up cycling,” he said with a smile.
Another first timer was Bob Gay, 52, of West Roxbury, who was running the race with his brother, Jim Gay, 62. Four of the nine brothers were running Falmouth this year. Bob said they had been talked into participating by their older brother.
“My goal is to finish,” Bob Gay said.
Many runners at Falmouth are running not just to raise money for nonprofit causes but to honor people. Wakefield residents Timothy O’Connell, 21, and his mother, Mary O’Connell, 54, were running in memory of Kelly Ledoux-Walsh who had recently died from an ongoing medical condition, according to the Facebook page for Merrimack College, which she attended. Timothy showed the prayer card from Kelly’s recent funeral taped to his cell phone. On it was the smiling face of a young woman. She had been a track star in high school and college.
To see our past Falmouth Road Race stories, including an interview with co-founder Rich Sherman, click here.
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