Thirty-one years and still running
"Run fast," advises the 78-year-old road-racing veteran Roy Vagelos, who placed second in his division last year in the Chilmark Road Race. "It's short enough, and it's beautiful. You should just run fast and go all-out."
This Saturday at 10:30 am, some 1,500 runners will be let loose along Middle Road in Chilmark for the 31st annual Chilmark Road Race. Runners will line up about three miles east of the Chilmark Town Hall and cover five kilometers (3.1 miles) on hilly Middle Road to Beetlebung Corner.
Dana Gaines, a 51-year-old Edgartown native who also placed second in his division last year, has been running the race for 20 years. He says that when runners ask him for advice, he always tells them the same thing: "There's one more hill than you think there is. The first half of the race is flat, but then the hills start - and they never end."
Mr. Vagelos, a Chilmark resident, says that he never noticed the hilly landscape because of the crowds of people who line the course.
Racers will need to pre-register for the race before 8 pm tonight. Entry fee is $25 for racers 12 years and older, or $16 for children under 12. Net proceeds benefit the Chilmark Community Center.
All runners must check-in at the Community Center either Friday night between 5 and 7 pm or Saturday morning between 8 and 9:30 am to receive their numbers, timing chips, tee-shirts, and race instructions. Officials urge racers to drink plenty of fluids in the morning and to get to the start area early.
Prizes will be awarded to men and woman by age groups: 8 and younger, 9-11, 12-16, 17-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59, 60-69, and 70 and older. An awards ceremony follows the race at the Community Center.
Runners may not run with double strollers, skates, animals, scooters, or skateboards, and are strongly discouraged from using single strollers.
Buses will provide transportation from Vineyard Haven to Chilmark for runners taking the 8:15 am Steamship Authority Ferry from Woods Hole, arriving in Vineyard Haven at 9 am, and will return to the ferry after the race.
The Chilmark Road Race was founded by Hugh Weisman and a handful of runners 31 years ago. Mr. Weisman's kids were attending the Chilmark Community Center's summer camp and he used to take the campers out for "fun runs" around Chilmark.
In the summer of 1976, Mr. Weisman decided to make his fun runs into a fundraiser for the community center.
"I didn't know if we'd make any money or not at first, but if we did, I wanted it to benefit the center," says Mr. Weisman.
The first year, his single-handedly organized race drew 180 runners, and has grown in popularity since. Even after all the 1,500 racing spots have been given out, some runners still choose to participate in the race. However, race officials don't encourage unregistered runners to clog the roadways. Mr. Weisman said that about half of the years, people are shut out of registering for the road race because it fills up. He joked that nobody got shut out in the old days, when less than 200 people showed up.