FALMOUTH – Unless I am being chased by a wolverine or I have a chance to score a touchdown, I don’t run. So whenever I attend the Falmouth Road Race, I watch the runners with great curiosity.
This year, while snapping many photos of runners of all shapes, sizes, gaits and facial expressions come over the final hill and head downhill toward the finish line in Falmouth Heights, one question kept coming to me: Why do these people do this?
“It’s a good way to clear your head,” said Seth Andrea McCoy of Roxbury. “It’s good for thinking about things, or not.”
Many runners had shirts showing they were raising money for a cause. McCoy was raising money for oral cancer research in honor of a friend who passed away from the disease. She said she has run marathons before but this was her first time in the scenic 7.1-mile Falmouth race. “It’s a beautiful course,” she said.
And the running past the cheering crowds, she said, is “great motivation.”
Matt Peerless, 22, of Framingham said, “My girlfriend signed me up without me knowing.” He trained for two weeks. At 22, two weeks was plenty of training, he said. As for the race, Peerless said, “It was fun for the novelty of it.” He does not plan to run again.
Bud Morton, 66, of Lakeville, had no plans to run again after finishing the 2008 race “with a 104.3 temperature and in a bucket of ice. I said never again. This is now the third time that I haven’t run it again,” he said.
“I get slower every year,” said Morton. He said he loves his solitary training runs in the morning past cranberry bogs and farms, but said, for the race, “The crowd definitely gets you up. This is a good crowd.”
“When they are cheering you on, that’s exciting,” said Doris Beatty, 81, of Falmouth. Beatty said she won her age group. She thinks she may have been the only entry.
Beatty said she used to volunteer working the race but then realized, “If these folks can do it, so can I.” She began to run and has now run the race 22 times, she said. She became involved with the Falmouth Track Club and has run two Boston Marathons and one New York Marathon.
“If I didn’t live in this town, I would not run,” said Beatty. “This is a running town.”
“I couldn’t have done it without the camaraderie,” she said. “It’s a nice feeling to run. It’s nice to run with people.”
Jean Kennedy, 65, of Brockton, also cited the camaraderie as a reason to run. She said that just before she turned 60, she watched her daughter compete in a triathlon and thought, “I bike, I swim.” So she competed in a triathlon. Running the Falmouth Road Race is more difficult, she said.
She emphasized, “I’m lucky enough to be healthy enough that I can run.” And she added that the crowd “keeps you going.”
Leonard Miceli, 62, of East Falmouth said of the crowd, “They literally carry you from Woods Hole to Falmouth Heights.”
Miceli began running in the 1970s when he lived in Watertown and his brother-in-law wanted to go for a 2-1/2 mile run around Fresh Pond in Cambridge. “He took off and I couldn’t keep up with him,” said Miceli. So he began training every night at that same pond.
“I used to see (two-time Boston Marathon champion) Johnny Kelley,” said Miceli. “He’d pass me three times in my one time around the pond.”
But Miceli kept at it. ”It’s an addiction,” he said. “I get my runner’s high out of it. After a mile or so, I zone out. I feel good.”
But when he runs the Falmouth race, “I’m not zoned out,” he said. “The crowd literally carries you.”
Michele O’Grady, 54, of Wilton, Connecticut had another inspirational story. “I’m a new runner,” she said. She began running two years ago after being treated for appendix cancer and being told by her doctor that she should back off from her regular routine of dancing, kickboxing and yoga.
O’Grady began to walk, and then she began to jog, she said. She became involved with the running community, which she described as “so warm. It doesn’t matter the pace. It matters that you’re doing it.”
“I’m not a runner,” she said. “I used to say, if you see me running, run too because something’s chasing me.”
And yet there she was, having just finished the Falmouth Road Race. “When you stop,” she said, “it’s the best thing ever.”
That, I imagined, was probably true.
– Please like us on Facebook.