Editors, Vineyard Gazette:
As every Gazette readers know, the Chilmark Road Race just celebrated its 36th year. The Gazette has been a big part of the race’s success with reporter after reporter writing wonderful pre-race and post-race stories along with magnificent accompanying photos from Alison Shaw, Peter Simon, Mark Lovewell, and others. The stories usually focus on the runners, which is as it should be. The race is for them. They’re the ones that work hard to improve their times, come back year after year, and introduce their children and grandchildren to the pleasure of running and the Chilmark Road Race.
But the race just doesn’t just happen. It takes over a hundred volunteers to make it what it is. As race directors, it never ceases to amaze us how each and every one of them steps up and does what needs to be done with a smile and enthusiasm; whether they’re handing out water, registering runners, announcing, selling T-shirts and hats, coordinating volunteers, soliciting prizes, setting up the course early in the morning, managing the parking areas, or cleaning up afterwards. Some of them giving out runners’ T-shirts are as young as five or six years old, and some of them have been doing the same job for all 36 races, but we won’t talk about their age. They’re not celebrated in the Gazette stories but they’re what make the race happen.
Then there’s Tri-Town Ambulance who come prepared for the worst while hoping for the best. They set up an emergency area and have ambulances standing by to transport any emergency to the hospital. The Chilmark police augment their roster for the morning with officers from Aquinnah and West Tisbury. Not only do they keep the traffic moving, they help manage the bus turnarounds, lead the race to the finish, and pick up the rear of the pack, And all this, with South Road closing and the President arriving in a few hour, and with smiles on their faces. Just wonderful! Beetlebung Coffee House and the Chilmark Store provide water and refreshment. Dozens of Island businesses contribute all sorts of things for our age group prizes. And Araujo Brothers installs the porta-potties, MV Sightseeing has the buses running, Bruno’s leaves the trash containers, Chris West sets up the sound system, Vineyard Bottled Water delivers the water to the start, Larsen’s finds a couple of incredible giant lobsters for the winners, and Start2Finish has results on the fire house wall while late runners are still coming across the line.
And the runners understand this. They know that this is a homegrown race. They know that everyone is trying their damndest to make it a great race for them. Complaints are few and far between. Although this year’s start was delayed by 14 minutes, due to the bus carrying runners from the ferry breaking down; everyone took it in stride.
We are constantly humbled by all that contribute so much to the success of our race year after year, and all we can say is: Thank you, thank you all.
Hugh Weisman, Chilmark