Running for love, filling the pantry

While some spent their Black Friday shopping, or resting after the Thanksgiving holiday, others were running – or walking the “Run for Love” 5K at Rockwell Park, sponsored by Bristol’s Hillside Community Church.

The annual event, which celebrated its third year, is a fundraiser for the church’s “Necessities Cupboard” food pantry.

Around 63 people participated in the event. Some participants walked, others ran, and some ran with their dogs. Some people just showed up to the event to donate to the cause without participating in the 5K.

Joe Perusse from Torrington ran the race because he is part of the “Run 169 Town Society.” It is an organization made up of men and women who like to run in races, and race in all 169 towns in the state of Connecticut.

“Bristol is a town I need (to complete his 169 towns goal) and it worked out well. It’s the only race today too. This is 27 for me,” said Perusse.

“One of my friends got me into (Run 169 Society) last April; he finally finished them all, and you become a King or Queen. That’s the goal,” said Perusse. “The races all have to be at least a mile, they have to be timed, and they have to post the results.”

Katey Baruth’s dog, Quinn ran the 5K. Quinn is also part of “Run 169.” She has run in all 169 towns, with her most recent run in the Michael K. Walsh 5K in October. She’ll be running another race in March. Baruth said Quinn, 5, has run in almost 400 races total. She said Quinn smiles, and is content, and doesn’t slow down, but she is able to run at any pace. To prepare for her races, Quinn runs about 40 miles a week.

Church members, and friends, Arianna Caron, 11, and Kloie Fregeau, 11 participated in the 5K, and have done so previously. They also run cross country.

“I like to run so I can raise awareness for my church, and I like doing the exercises,” said Caron. “Just knowing that we’re a community, we’re here together, you’re not just running on your own. Even if you come alone, you’re all together.”

“I like running because it calms me down, and gets me ready for the day,” said Fregeau. “I prepare by pacing myself, running, and getting warmed up. I exercise, and I do the track once to make sure I remember it.”

The winners were categorized by the top two males and females, and the top male and female youths. The top two male runners were Eric Ciocca, who is a member of “Run 169,” and Carter Harris. The top two female runners were Sarah Frey and Jessica Dennis. The top two youth runners were Kloie Fregeau, 11, and Tucker Gray, 10.

“I ran two races yesterday,” said Ciocca. “I’m doing seven races in four days, so today’s my easy day – only one 5K. I did my best to stay warm. A little bit of stretching, but mostly making sure I was warm. I’m wearing layers. I have these 1980s leg warmers.”

“I was just looking around for local races yesterday and today,” said Frey. “This looked like a great one today, supporting a really good cause, and I was excited to come do it. I ran the Hartford marathon last month.”

Marie White, the director of the pantry, said Run For Love is looking for feedback from the running community about the race. “We would appreciate the running community to give us an opportunity to improve, and prove to them that we are a valid 5K, said White. “We purchased a timing system, and our certification is being updated.”

White said the Necessities Cupboard pantry is in need of canned goods, proteins, and toiletries. Donated items can be dropped off at 409 Broad St., Bristol, on Thursdays from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m., and from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., but you are asked to call (860)719-1505 first before bringing your items. If no one picks up, leave a message.

“We’re self-supported; we don’t have a regular source of income,” said White. “Any food that we get, funds that we get, are donations from the congregation or community. We have to pay rent, utilities. We all donate our time.”