Two course records were broken, but the Chilmark Road Race on Saturday was more a celebration of community and health than a contest.
Many of the fastest runners turned around after the finished the five-kilometer route and walked back up Middle Road to cheer on their slower comrades. Neighbors along the race route came out to the end of their driveways and others say on their lawns to greet the runners. Even a cow looked on, half amused, at the sweaty commotion in the road.
The race drew strong young women and gray-haired men and parents urging their little children or pushing them along in strollers.
“She had the best seat in the house,” said Eliza Usher, who pushed her two-year-old daughter Jaime Olivia Young in a blue stroller. The Oak Bluffs resident said she and her daughter also ran the race two years ago when Jaime was just two months old. “This is her best time.”
The sunny breezy day saw the 3.1-mile course record broken by 14 seconds by Michael Nahom, 24, of Danbury, Conn., who ran to the finish line in Beetlebung Corner in 14.45 minutes. Mr. Nahom has been visiting the Island for many summers and has won the Chilmark race a few times, including last year. Chris McNamara, 25, of Portland, Ore., owned the fastest women’s time with 17.14 minutes. She beat the previous record by 9 seconds, and placed 12th overall on Saturday. Both top finishers won lobsters, which were alive and kicking when pulled from a bag and presented to them on the steps of the Chilmark Community Center. Both winners looked a little reluctant to accept their clawed prizes from Hugh Weisman, the race organizer.
There were all kinds of winners on Saturday. Maryellyn Page of Guilford, Conn., and Edgartown was the first woman over 60 to finish. She won that title last year, too.
“I’m her coach,” said her husband George, who wore a red T-shirt with “COACH” emblazoned across the back. At the award ceremonies, Mr. Page stood munching on popcorn from a bag. His wife, who has run the Chilmark race for the last five years or so, stood nearby looking relaxed after her run. Behind every strong woman, Mrs. Page joked, “Is a guy standing eating popcorn.”
During the race, the runners smiled and said hello to each other and the adults kept an eye on the little runners, whose strategy seemed to be running very fast until their tongues hung out, then walking until they built up enough strength to run very fast again. One thin boy trudged up the big hill panting very quietly to himself, “Go, go.“
John O’Connor of Brooklyn said he loves the Chilmark Road Race. “It’s a beautiful race. The road is unbelievable with the ocean and the horses.” After the race, he was posing for pictures with his friends on the steps of the town hall. Mr. O’Connor is a serious runner who competes in the New York City marathon. He ran the Chilmark race in 19.16 minutes. His friends are more casual athletes. “I dragged them all here to run,” he said, smiling.
But they didn’t seem to mind. “It’s a great race,” said Maria Banevicius of Collinsville, Conn. “It’s amazing how friendly people are.”
Mr. Weisman said 1,377 runners crossed the finish line on Saturday and then were treated to water and Italian ice. He said the youngest runners (other than the handful of babies in strollers) were four and five years old and the oldest runners were in their 70s.
The top men overall were:
Michael Nahom, 14.45 minutes; Jim Zimmerly, 14.50; Kevin D. Hicks, 15.49; David Alden, 16.00; Donald Alden Jr., 16.20; John Conforti, 16.30; Michael Oliver, 16.31; Jason Yaffee, 16.39; Dan Kahn, 16.52; Walt Rider, 17.02.
The top women overall were:
Chris McNamara, 17.14; Jane Erdman, 19.20; Michelle Kantor, 19.23; Nicole Wilson, 19.29; Caitlin Riley, 19.45; Mary Tolson, 20.07; Sally Zimmer Knight, 20.13; Anita Blake, 20.14; Kara Klein, 20.32; Annie Brewster, 20.45.