Runners gear up for 8-mile, Village Fair Days 5K races

For the 42nd consecutive year, runners of all shapes and sizes, young and old, will challenge one of the state's toughest road race courses tomorrow (Saturday), July 25 in New Milford.

The town's 8-mile road race will be accompanied for a sixth straight year by the less demanding Village Fair Days 5K (3.1 mile) road race.

Both races will kick off at 9 a.m. along the east side of the Village Green and finish to the cheers of throngs of Village Fair Days patrons along the west side of the Green.

A field of more than 500 runners is expected for events are directed by Michelle Gasiewski and hosted by New Milford Parks & Recreation.

Premier sponsors are The Greater New Milford Spectrum and The News-Times, New Milford Hospital's medical and dental staff, Union Savings Bank, O & G and People's Union Bank.

The eight-mile field will head north along the Village Green, turn left onto Bennitt Street, then run north on Housatonic Avenue, before making a right over the railroad tracks onto Aspetuck Ridge Ridge.

The field will tour Aspetuck Ridge Road to its intersection with West Meetinghouse Road, at which point runners will turn right and head back to Merryall Road, then south until beginning the testing ascent of Canterbury Hill.

The climactic downhill homestretch will be achieved to the cheers of friends, fellow runners and Village Fair Days patrons along the Village Green.

The Village Fair Days runners will accompany the 8-milers to Aspetuck Ridge Road, from which the 5K field will take a right on Wells Road to its intersection with Wellsville Avenue. From there, it'll be a dash back to Bennitt Street and then down the Village Green to the finish line.

The defending champions are Shadrock Kijai at 39:46 and Maria Moraes at 49:29 in the 8-miler and John LaRosa at 16:38 and Sara Belles at 20:19 in the 5K.

The 8-mile course records are 37:56 by Patrick Nthiwa in 2001 and 45:23 by Irena Bogcheva in 1998.

An awards ceremony for both races will begin about 10:45 a.m. on the stage in the Village Fair Days' entertainment tent.

The top five male and female finishers in the 8-miler will earn respective prizes of $500, $300, $150, $75 and $50.

There would be a $500 bonus for an 8-mile course record.

Divisional prizes will also be given the top three in male and female age divisions 14 & younger, 15-18, 19-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59, 60-69 and 70 & older.

For the 5K race, prizes of $100, $50 and $25 will be given the top male and female finishers and prizes will be awarded to the top two in each age division.

Race-day signup at $20 will be offered from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. on Church Street near the town hall. If pre-entered, runners may pick up their race packet between 7:30 and 8:30 a.m.

T-shirts will be given to the first 600 registrant runners.

For information, check or call (860) 355-6050.

For the results and photos, see next Friday's Greater New Milford Spectrum and

-- Norm Cummings