Runners from as far away as Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, and New York took part in the Greater Derry Track Club’s (GDTC) fourth annual 5K and 10K Runs for Freedom on the Fourth of July. But at the finish line, racers from Derry and Londonderry were quite prominent among the top placers.
The runs began at Pinkerton Academy at 7:30 a.m. Monday morning, and the race course took runners around Derry.
Londonderry residents Jeremy Beland, Jason Plante, and Rob Barry finished first, fourth, and fifth respectively among the men in the 5K race, with Beland covering the course in 20 minutes and 10 seconds, Plante running a 21:37, and Barry doing a 21:55.
Derry women Julie Mullaney (22:09) and Ann Kingsland (23:23) came in second and third respectively among the ladies in the shorter of the day’s two races. And Londonderry 14-year-old Kerry Daley was the victor among the males in the 10K with his final time of 42 minutes exactly. That winning time was a full 33 seconds faster than the second-place finisher.
During that nine-week program, workouts slowly progressed from a combination of walking and running to 30 minutes of running. The participants met at the Windham Rail Trail twice a week to work out together, and completed another workout on their own. Members of the GDTC led the group in a five-minute warm-up walk, stretch, and run. Members also gave advice on stretching, diet, clothing, and running techniques.
More than 225 runners took part in the two 2016 events, with 166 taking on the 5K event and a total of 62 running the longer race.
All proceeds from the Run for Freedom races will be donated to Liberty House in Manchester, a non-profit organization sponsored by the Manchester Veterans of Foreign Wars, which offers transitional housing, medical care, and job assistance to homeless veterans in the Granite State. All race participants were also asked to bring a donation of a non-perishable food item to help restock local food banks.