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Litchfield Hills Road Race off and running

POSTED March 24, 2012
BY Rick Wilson
Twitter: @scribewilson


                              Litchfield Hills Road Race off and running

LITCHFIELD – They don’t run the Litchfield Hills Road Race for another 10 weeks or so (June 10 to be exact) but they are off and running.

On an unseasonably warm early spring Thursday evening at Toll Gate Inn, LHRR royalty officially kicked off the countdown to the 36th running of the iconic race with a variety of announcements, updates and the honoring of two long-time contributors to the event’s success.

The merry men and women who put in countless hours to make the LHRR what it is would disdain the royalty reference, but the simple fact is their non-stop efforts have turned the second Sunday in June into a one-destination day for more than three decades – Litchfield.

And they were out in force to officially open LHRR 2012 on this night. LHRR President Beth Murphy was on hand along with Race Director John Clock.  The Neller boys, LHRR co-founder, Bill, and  brother Jack, who along with wife Cathy has co-directed the kids race for 19 years, were there.

Running guru Dave Driscoll, former LHRR Director Rick Evangelisti and legendary fashion icon and LHRR announcer Brent Hawkins were there.  Just for the record Hawkins was without headdress but did sport a Hawaiian style shirt. Valued sponsor Ted Murphy along with venerable Terry Collins who has run, helped out, supported and loved the race since its beginning were there.

The list goes on, many of the crowd of 40 or so on hand, having been there since Race No.  1. A lot the success of the race was in the room.

One of the first orders of business was to honor Litchfield Police Cpl. Roger `Dodgie’ Doyle and retire highway department supervisor, Jim Koser. Driving the pace car, Doyle has been the starter and as Bill Neller pointed out, the first finisher, in every single race.  Koser has filled potholes, refurbished curbs and made sure the roadsides were mowed.

Both honorees were given commemorative race jackets and huge dose of applause for their efforts.

One of the highlights of the evening was the unveiling of the new LHRR website (LHRR.com). All information on the race from A to Z can be found on the site and a three-minute video featuring runner Robin Smith was particularly impressive.

Jack Neller reviewed the Kids Race which will feature the 200-yard run for ages 5-8 and a one-mile run for ages 8-10 at 1:10 shortly after the main race begins. At noon, the 11-13 year-olds get to show their stuff in the 2.3 mile race.

The LHRR also announced that it is holding its first t-shirt contest. In search of a design for the 2013 race, the committee has begun accepting entries and will do so until Jan. 9 of 2013.

E-mail designs in digital format can be sent to jrc@sportsmens.bix or you can mail drawings to: Litchfield Hills Road Race, c/0 Sportsmen’s, P.O.Box 1300 in Litchfield (06759). Entries can also just be dropped off at Sportsmen’s.

The creator of the winning t-shirt will get a full page acknowledgement in the LHRR program, a mounted and framed 2013 t-shirt and a $100 gift certificate to Sportsmen’s.

For those interested in getting in shape for the LHRR, certified running coach Kevin Noll spoke about the 10 Weeks To Race Success program training program sponsored by the Litchfield Athletic Club.

There are two training sessions to choose from: Saturday mornings at 8:30 or Thursday evenings at 6:30.

Bill Burgess spoke about Rod Dixon’s Kid’s Marathon program in which 400 kids in Connecticut will participate this year. Every year the event is held the day before the LHRR.

On June 10, more than 1,300 runners will line up for another LHRR. But the running of the LHRR was in full swing Thursday night. The famed LHRR hospitality was on display as was the work ethic that has made it all work.

Black and white film footage from 1979 was aired on a big screen and several aspects stood out. No. 1, boy were the shorts short. No. 2, we are all so much younger than. But most tellingly was the idea that so many of the faces are still here and still running, helping out and being involved.

There was a young Bill Neller and Dave Driscoll, looking fit, trim and ready for another one. A young Mr. Collins was ready to roll. Pushing towards four decades later, so many are still here.

A youthful Joe Concannon was also in the film. Somewhere, the co-founder is very proud. The LHRR has never stopped running and the 2012 version is raring to go

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