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Cross country team hits the trails to support their sport

Runners headed out across the field of the Sanbornton Town Park before heading off into the woods for Winnisquam Regional High School’s Alumni Homecoming Cross Country 5K race last Saturday. (Donna Rhodes) (click for larger version)
October 05, 2011
SANBORNTON — A little inclement weather never dampened the spirit of a true runner, and 15 aficionados of the sport were at Sanbornton's Town Park for the first annual Winnisquam Regional High School's Alumni Homecoming Cross Country 5K race last Saturday afternoon.

Coach Paul Durfee of the WRHS cross country team said the idea for a homecoming race event came from a fellow coach at Laconia High School. In hosting such a race, he hoped to raise money towards warm-up suits, invitational race fees and other team oriented needs.

"We want to be self-sufficient as a team, and not have to worry about future budget cuts in the district," Durfee said.

Laconia, he added, has been able to fund their team through fundraisers such as alumni races, and Durfee hoped to be able to do the same with his own team.

Assisting him in the organization of the race were members of the cross country team and last year's coach, Melissa Morse.

Morse said she felt it was important for her to step up as a volunteer for the race to show support for her former athletes.

"I think this is a great cause to support the team, which has such a limited season. It's wonderful they are taking this time to have an event for the community," said Morse.

WRHS team members got the chance to participate in the race and also add the organization of a community event to their resume, Durfee added. Planning for tents, food, water, timing, and donations toward a raffle for participants, along with trail layout and set up for the start/finish line, began in August.

Some of the cross country team members, like Desiray Walsh, said they have already had experience assisting with Winnisquam Middle School cross country races, so putting together the first annual Alumni homecoming race was fun.

Runners headed out under a light rain, making their way from the Town Park in Sanbornton, past the transfer station, along a portion of the Heritage Trail and back to the park. On their second journey through the course, they were directed along an alternate loop, and eventually raced downhill to the finish line on the town's soccer field, where friends and family waited to cheer them on.

First to cross the line was 14-year-old Mark Roy from WMS, with a time of 19:35. Roy said the run was fine except for the rain, which he felt weighed down his lightweight running shoes somewhat along the trail.

Following him through the chute was 47-year-old Mark Hecox of Henniker, who ran the 5K as one of four races he had slated for the day, the first being a half marathon earlier Saturday morning.

"I heard about the race, and just came out to support the team — it's good old cross country," Hecox said after his finish at 20:26.

Coming in third was WRHS sophomore Mike Roy, who placed first in the meet against Mascoma the day before on the very same course, trailed by senior Colton Piper and freshman Zach Baker, who finished fourth and fifth for the men.

Senior Hannah Wilcutt lead the ladies to the line with a sixth place overall time of 25:25, with Colleen Roy running second to Wilcutt, and Olivia Martinson third. Martinson raced to the finish just seconds before her father who also took part in the run.

"She pulled me to the line," dad Leif Martinson said, but later teased his daughter by telling her, "I tried to get you at the end there, you know."

Gift cards to Common Man Restaurants and tee shirts were part of the prizes in the entrants' raffle. In all the team was able to raise more than $100 in donations toward future races and gear for the WRHS cross country team. The race will become a part of annual events sponsored by the school and Morse said she and Durfee hoped to hold next year's event at an earlier date.

"We'd like to have it in the end of August sometime next year, so graduating seniors can take part as kind of their last run before heading off to college," said Morse.

Those who would like to donate to the WRHS Cross Country team for running gear, team activities and entry fees for other invitational events throughout the state may do so by contacting Durfee at Winnisquam Regional High School.

Martin Lord Osman
Varney Smith
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