Even yesterday – some 48 hours after Saturday’s Central Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce’s Rocky Point 5K Road Race – comments kept pouring into the chamber office in Apponaug.
The consensus? It was a hit.
“What a great day for a run,” Cranston resident Kelly Scott said. “This was a perfect inaugural event.”
Until Saturday, there had never been an official U.S. Track and Field sanctioned and certified race in Warwick Neck.
“There was a Fun Walk sponsored by the Rocky Point School PTA (Parent-Teacher Association),” said Lauren Slocum, Central Chamber President/CEO. “But this is the first road race through Rocky Point.”
The 3.1-mile road race attracted 354 runners and walkers. More than 75 volunteers helped pave the way, while Centreville Bank and National Grid served as major sponsors.
There was also a silent sponsor of sorts.
“We could not have done this without the extraordinary help we received from the City of Warwick,” Slocum said. “The city was wonderful to work with; the Warwick Police and Fire Departments made the whole day special. The same goes for the School Department and Department of Public Works.”
Warwick Fire Department Lt. William Tyler sang the national anthem prior to the start and Leah Prata of Centreville Back sounded the horn that got the race underway.
When it was over, it drew rave reviews.
“So many great neighbors came out and cheered the runners on in their front yards,” Slocum said. “The whole Warwick Neck neighborhood came together; this was just awesome.”
David Robert, a participant, added: “It was awesome with some nice hills and spectacular views of the bay. I want to thank all the volunteers; they are the true winners here today. I look forward to returning and let it be known the course was honest.”
The 3.1-mile course started – and finished – in uphill fashion on Rocky Point Avenue. Norm Bouthillier, the track and cross country coach at Toll Gate and an accomplished runner himself, was the inaugural winner.
“Going uphill for the finish was a killer,” said Bouthillier, 48.
Bouthillier covered the 3.1-mile trek in 18 minutes and five seconds, just four seconds ahead of Warwick resident Robert Corsi, 35, who ran a time of 18:09. Dave Schadd, 51, of East Greenwich, took third overall in 19:29.
“The course was great,” Corsi saod. “There were some great hills that really make you work hard.”
In the Women’s Division, Jenna Moen took home first place in a time of 19:53. Moen is one of Bouthillier’s former standout runners and is now a student at the University of Pittsburgh.
“I really loved the course,” said Moen.
Moen finished three seconds ahead of Zofia Wieciorkowska, 50, who came to Warwick form her home in Stratford, Conn. Issy Nielson, 30, of Warwick was third overall among women in 20:38.
There were eight different age categories. Frank Collins, 19, of Warwick and Jenny Boynton, 15, of East Greenwich were the younger winners in 20:20 and 29:56 respectively.
Top honors for the oldest male and female went to Wayne Peacock, 74, of Warwick, who ran a 3.1-mile time of 27 minutes and 33 seconds. Margaret McGuirl of Warwick was the oldest woman in the race and she won the female category in 53:07 for by walking and running.
“This event was organized and present to enhance and better our community,” Slocum said. “We are just thrilled with the way it turned out. We’ll begin working on next year very, very soon.”
One of the post-race events will be the presentation of two checks that will go to Rhode Island Mentoring Partnership and Comprehensive Community Action Program.
“We’re also going to give a donation to the Rocky Point Foundation, “Slocum explained. “And the overall beneficiaries will change every year.”
And the chamber is already thinking about the future.
“We’re already getting runners and volunteers who want to sign up for next year,” Slocum said. “I thought it was a great day and I’m so excited we had so many participants, volunteers and sponsors.”