By LISA CAPOBIANCO
Over the past 47 years, the annual Mum-A-Thon Road Race and Fitness walk has not only served as one of the state’s longest-running athletic events, but also has continued as a tradition in Bristol.
When Bristol Police Chief Tom Grimaldi took over as the race director in 2012, one of the goals he had in mind was to help grow the race. Last year, the race drew between 130 and 140 participants. In 2013, 150 runners flocked to Bristol to participate.
“I’m proud of that,” said Grimaldi, who was born and raised in Bristol.
The 47th annual Mum-A-Thon will take place this Saturday, with registration starting at 7 a.m. The event will feature a kids fun run at 8:15 a.m., along with a 5K and fitness walk at 8:30 a.m.
Hosted by the Bristol Sports Hall of Fame, the Mum-A-Thon is a newly revised 5K course through downtown that is considered flat and fast. The race will run rain or shine. All proceeds of the event support BSHOF.
The race starts and ends at Immanuel Lutheran School. Grimaldi said the race not only attracts participants because of its flat course, but also because of its location. Bringing more people into the downtown area, the race passes through Memorial Boulevard, where participants can see all of the war monuments that honor the Bristol men who died for their country. The Mum-A-Thon took place in the Chippens Hill area in previous years.
“We want to have it downtown,” said Grimaldi, calling Memorial Boulevard one of Bristol’s “crown jewels.”
A director of the BSHOF, Grimaldi said the Mum-A-Thon is a great opportunity spread more awareness about the kinds of initiatives the civic group supports. Formed in 1997, the Bristol Sports Hall of Fame has a mission to “permanently honor, document and preserve distinctive contributions and achievements to the sports heritage of Bristol,” according to the group’s website. BSHOF has sponsored a variety of activities that not only support adults who are involved in the Bristol supports community but also student athletes. These programs have become a reality thanks to the contributions of local businesses and individuals. BSHOF sponsors educational programs, including three $1,500 scholarships that are awarded at the Jack Hines Scholar-Athlete Dinner and the Robert J. Fiondella Leadership Breakfast as well as the annual scholarship golf tournament. In addition to the Bristol Sports Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, the local organization also sponsors the Community Speakers Program and co-sponsors the annual Hershey Track and Field event in partnership with the Bristol Board of Education and the Bristol Board of Parks and Recreation. This event gives Bristol elementary school students a chance to compete in track and field events over the course of several days, with the winners moving on to the state level.
“We do a lot of things like that to develop our youth,” said Grimaldi. “We’re committed to the tradition of sports as well.”
Grimaldi, along with his team of other directors who help make the event successful, hopes the Mum-A-Thon will continue to grow its participation rate.
“The more we grow, the more we’re able to give back to the community,” said Grimaldi.
By LISA CAPOBIANCO