Last Saturday, I ran in my first official 5K race during the New England 125th Anniversary Celebration.
It was the highlight of an entertaining weekend in my hometown for many reasons. First of all, I finished the dang thing with a personal-best time thanks to a couple buddies in the military who know how to run at a steady, non-exhausting pace. The race itself, however, became one of the best stories of the weekend.
In what must have been an inspiring scene for those watching the start of the race, all the Schwartz children, grandchildren and relatives wore bright yellow Ed Schwartz Construction shirts with the word “SAFETY” on the back. Almost half of the field was wearing these shirts.
The race was named the Ed Schwartz Memorial 5-10K Run/Walk in honor of the longtime New England citizen who died in June. He was one of the “town fathers” of New England, so to speak, and was the father to former Dickinson High cross country coach Jerry Schwartz, one of the men I highlighted in Saturday’s special on New England natives who found success in coaching.
Jerry Schwartz, who is pushing 60 but still an avid distance runner, picked up the win in honor of his father. He ran up front with New England St. Mary’s graduate and Dickinson chiropractor Dion Ficek, an experienced marathon runner, who provided some inspirational words for Schwartz as he neared the finish line.
Jerry even proved a savior to many runners in one of the funniest moments of the weekend. A fast-starting lead group of experienced young distance runners took a wrong turn with Jerry not far behind them. (They ended up shortening their race by roughly 1 to 1.5 kilometers.) He stopped and waved some runners back on course and made sure the rest of the field stayed on course while maintaining his spot near the front of the field.
After the race, I had a great conversation with Dr. Patricia A. Kipp, one of Schwartz’s daughters, about the event and where the money raised from the races will be going.
Funds from this and all future Ed Schwartz Memorial races will go toward the purchase of a 12-lead EKG transmitter, a device needed to start emergency treatment for heart attack victims in the field, for the New England Ambulance Service. The device costs roughly $23,000.
Ed Schwartz died from injuries he suffered when he was burned while working on one of his antique tractors near his New England home last month.
The plan, those in charge of the race say, is to hold the event at least once a year in New England.
For those runners out there wondering about the race, the course was great and gives you a great tour of the town. Jess Eisebarth, a half-marathon runner who lives in New England, designed it.
Everyone seemed to agree that the run down Elevator Road, the 1.25-mile turn in Riverside Park and the finish — a gradual uphill push toward the north end of Main Street and the New England school building — made the race.
While this was my first 5K race and it won’t be my last — especially in New England.
I highly recommend area runners check out the Ed Schwartz Memorial races the next time they are held. Not only is the route a good one, the money raised from the races goes to a great cause.