Thousands hit the streets on Labor Day for New Haven Road Race

Runners take off at the annual New Haven Road Race (file).

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Thousands of runners hit the streets of New Haven for the 38th annual New Haven Road Race. The Labor Day Road Race is really three events in one.

It starts with the kids’ race. That’s a half mile run for kids from 13 down to…well, there’s no minimum. As long as you can walk and have plenty of enthusiasm. For the adults, there are a couple races. New Haven resident Jason Lyall was with his family, getting ready to run the 5K for the first time.

“I finally needed a kick in the tail to get going and get some fitness going on,” Lyall said. “My son’s old enough to do it now too, so it’s a father son kind of thing this year.”

The third race is 20 kilometers, which is about 12 and a half miles. It can be a grueling race, especially if it’s hot and humid, which is exactly how things were for last year’s race.

“It was absolutely miserable,” remembers Chris Gilbert of New Haven, who ran the 20K last year and this year. “It was probably the worst race I’ve ever run.”

New Haven Road Race President John Courtmanche ran the 20K for 32 straight years, and he agreed that 2014 was a tough year. “Really the air quality when it’s that bad effects runners, and even I ended up walking down Whitney Avenue,” he said, referring to the final leg of the race. “We saw people had to receive medical attention on the course.”

As a result, they expanded the medical tent this year, and got started right on time, before the sun got too hot. This is an important race, not just for New Haven, but the 20K is a National Championship Race.

“So we get former Olympians,” Courtmanche explained. “Some of the people who will be involved in next year’s Olympic marathon.”

Thousands of non-Olympians ran, too, including dozens marking the anniversary of New Haven’s Foote School.

“[We are] celebrating our 100th,” according to Carol Maoz, Head of the Foote School. “We decided we were going to go full force with the New Haven Road Race to get 100 runners. We’re 170, probably 180 runners.”

Running with the Foote contingent was Sportz Team 8’s Erik Dobratz and his family. Chief meteorologist Gil Simmons also ran the 5K. News8 reporter Kent Pierce was able to finish the 20K race.

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