Photo by Alison Shaw, 1986.
A mammoth, six-pound lobster was released on Saturday, after Craig Gemmell of Hyannis Port won the 20th running of the Chilmark Road Race.
 
Mr. Gemmell’s 16:04 finish in the 3.1-mile race earned him the day’s largest lobster. While he said he enjoys an occasional crustacean, Mr. Gemmell, a biology teacher, said he could not comfortably feed on such a large old lobster.
 
He instead carried his new friend to Menemsha. With a small crowd of onlookers, the rubber bands were removed and the creature was placed in Vineyard Sound. At first the lobster didn’t move. But it eventually realized its luck and slowly made its way back to the sea. Mr. Gemmell then adjourned, his conscience clear, to Chilmark General Store for a pizza.
 
“It’s a community race,” said Mr. Gemmell, who competed in the race for the first time. “It’s the type of event that I like to participate in - people are more concerned with having fun than competing to death.”
 
The 20th running of the event featured its usual mix of talented athletes, determined amateurs, kids and competitive strollers. All runners enjoyed cool race conditions; nevertheless top times were relatively slower than in past years.
 
Kalen Rapallo’s 18:42 finish topped the other female runners. The Wakefield resident said she had little sleep the night before because she feared she would leave late and miss the 8 a.m. ferry.
 
“I loved the race so much last year I had to come back,” said Mrs. Rapallo, who runs with the Liberty Track Club in Boston.
 
Early morning sprinkles threatened to dampen the race for the first time. But by the time 1,485 runners gathered on Middle Road, the rain stopped. Runners then enjoyed a relatively cool run that led them back to Beetlebung Corner along the wooded road, past farms and a South Shore view.
 
Among the many frequent competitors, Morgan Shipway and Priscilla Karnovsky were back for their 20th straight race. Both were introduced to the sport at the first race in 1978 and haven’t stopped running since. No one knows who will bow out first. While Mrs. Karnovsky may have age as an advantage, Mr. Shipway showed his strength Saturday by finishing fifth in the 50-59 age group.
 
Race director Hugh Weisman said all went well during the 20th running. Later, on the steps of the Chilmark Community Center, he thanked all the runners and volunteers for helping making the race great.
 
“The rain scared me in the morning, but thankfully it tapered off before the race started. The times were a bit off, but I thought everyone had a good time, and that’s the important thing.”
 
The event included scattered fans along much of the route and a great line of onlookers standing shoulder to shoulder up the finish line. Included in the bunch were Sueellen and Tom Knight of West Tisbury, who stood along Middle Road, cheering on their son Peter and his wife Sally Zimmer Knight of Bloomfield, Conn.
 

Notable times include:

 

Top Ten Men:

 
Craig Gemmell, 16:14
Donald Alden, 16:32
Kevin Hicks, 16:48
Thomas Schmidt, 16:48
John Conforti, 17:06
Tim Donahue, 17:07
Townsend Belisle, 17:15
Richard Walsh, 17:26
Brian Flaherty, 17:42
Alan Watson, 17:43
 

Top Ten Women:

 
Kalen Rapallo, 18:42
Becky Carazza, 18:54
Stacy Keane, 19:42
Donna Hurley, 19:46
Sally Zimmer Knight, 20:13
Katy Sullivan, 20:41
Debbie Kearney, 20:50
Marian Bihrle, 21:05
Kristen Poule, 21:06
Jeny Pephardt. 21:07
Janice Saal, 21:20
Nancy Galvin, 21:23
 
 
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From the August 15, 1997 edition of the Vineyard Gazette:

 

Editorial: A Great Little Race

 
Anniversaries have a way of making you pause and think about the passage of time, about the things that change and the things that endure. That’s the way it was last Saturday, at least, with the twentieth running of the Chilmark Road Race.
 
The very success of this little race has threatened to change it in any number of ways. Corporate sponsors have offered their financial support. But race organizer Hugh Weisman understands that the corporations want name recognition and a measure of control over this homespun event in return for their dollars, and he has not ventured down the slippery path of sponsorship. So in this age of the Minute Maid Orange Bowl and so many other equally sullied traditions, we have not the Jockey Shorts Road Race or the Five-K Ibuprofen Challenge, but simply and honestly, the Chilmark Road Race.
 
The success of this race has also posed a direct threat to the very littleness that is part of its charm. It would be easy to let the number of entrants balloon far beyond the fifteen hundred now allowed at the stating line. But here again, Mr. Weisman has resisted change, and instead has allowed the unique scale of this event to endure despite its popularity.
 
Race winner Craig Gemmell had pity on his prize, a venerable six-pound lobster, and released it back into the ocean after Saturday’s anniversary running of the Chilmark Road Race. Mr. Gemmell’s treatment of that lobster is not unlike Hugh Weisman’s stewardship of the race itself. He has resisted the temptation to cash in, and as a result this event endures as a beloved highlight of the Island summer season.