There are already more than 400 competitors signed up and ready to hit the road and by the time the gun sounds for the five mile and five kilometer road races this Sunday at the Apple Harvest Festival Road Race in downtown Southington, that number is expected to exceed 1,000.
The Apple Harvest Festival Road Races have grown into one of the more popular events of the two-weekend celebration and in it’s 12th year under the direction of the Southington YMCA, there are more events available than ever.
John Myers, executive director of the YMCA, said he is excited about the opportunities this year, including a special guest appearance by former Olympic competitor Bill Rodgers and the introduction of the new “Y-Cup” Relay Race.
“This is something we are really looking forward to. It’s a great event and we are always trying to look for ways to keep kids active. The Y-Cup is a way to do just that,” Myers said.
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The “Y-Cup” is a new, improved five-kilometer competition for children in third through fifth grade. The children will join together in teams of three with each child running about a mile to the next checkpoint. When they arrive, their teammate will continue on. The children will be monitored by volunteers and taken back to the Southington Town Green on a bus, Myers said.
Christopher Palmieri said the new race, which was completely created by the YMCA, is a great addition to the festival.
“The YMCA does a fantastic job putting the Road Races together and they are always adding new aspects,” Palmieri said. “It helps provide a real community event that encourages healthy living and it’s a great addition to the festival.”
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The event in 2012 will also include the traditional five-mile, five-kilometer and Little Apple Fritter Fun Run for younger kids around the town green. The races will kick-off at 8:45 this year – a new time – to help accommodate traffic and allow for First Congregational Church to hold their usual 9 a.m. mass without inconveniencing parishioners.
The Little Fritter’s race will begin an hour later at 9:45 p.m.
In addition to the races, Myers said the 2012 event will include special guest Bill Rodgers, who will take part in the competition and spend time talking with local residents.
Rodgers, who has family in Southington, has won both the Boston and New York City marathons. He has competed at the highest level and has established his own running and fitness facilities.
“He is so approachable and really a pleasure to talk with. When we asked him, he didn’t hesitate to be part of the event,” Myers said.
Participants can sign up for the races until the gun sounds, Myers said, although pre-registration is recommended. To register in advance, print the forms online as the Southington YMCA website or stop by the YMCA.
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