Eight Stories in Eight Days. Day 2: WZBG's own Dale Jones knocks one off the "Bucket List".
LITCHFIELD: On Sunday afternoon at exactly 1 p.m., WZBG Morning Drive host Dale Jones and an ocean of runners will launch the 36th running of the Litchfield Hills Road Race.
Why? Because he’s crazy like the rest of the 1500 or so brave souls who will tackle the 7.1 mile course put together by the legendary Joe Concannon nearly four decades ago.
Just kidding about the crazy part, but not really.
I’ve gotten to know my friend Dale better over the past few years and along with being one of the hardest working former DJ’s (he’ll still rock a gig from time to time when he can), Jones usually achieves his goal when he sets out on one.
This one came in the form of a challenge live on the air during the morning show (Monday through Friday, 5:30- 10:00 a.m.) when a guest from the Litchfield Athletic Club threw down the gauntlet by inviting Jones to take part in a 10-week training program that the club was talking about.
“I had to take the challenge at that point.” Jones said. “I always enjoyed running so I took them up on the offer.”
The program is a great one that helps runners build up their strength and endurance over the two and a half months leading up to the second Sunday in June when they all go running from something at the top of the Green in Litchfield.
I personally think they are chasing the press truck in order to get a better look at the extreme athletes who board that bad boy every year, but I digress.
Jones recently joined the half century club and this seemed like as good a time as any to check something off the bucket list.
I went to Litchfield during the groups first attempt at the entire course to see just how much “fun” they would be having on the loop back.
Got to Litchfield, or was it Hollywood last week?
With booms, camera’s huge lights, miles of cable, dogs, actors and a very confused Thursday night dinner crowd all milling about, I though they must have been filming “Men in Black 5”.
Didn’t see Tommy Lee Jones, Will Smith or those little cool worms that steal any scene they are in but I did see dogs.
Dogs on the Green, nothing new about that but as I watched the action across from the Village (which I didn’t realize had outside seating) the truth came out.
No, this was no blockbuster, summer movie of the year candidate in the great borough but alas, the filming of a dog food commercial.
Was funny though, every time the director yelled “Action”, the dog, who an actress was trying to hold at a table, started to fuss and wiggle and just not cooperate at all.
In his script, this was an action flick.
Thought he was going to rescue the fair maiden but no…..tricked by his agent again.
As the group of runners, maybe 15, got ready to take off, the mood was positive if not a little nervous.
I snapped some pictures as the brave ones made their way by and Jones was in the middle of the pack with a wave and a smile.
Knowing life as they all knew it was about to change, I jumped in my race mobile and took the scenic route past Litchfield High School, past the cemetery and to the bottom of the dreaded “Gallows.”
Gallows Hill. Just a great name and a definition. The thing will kill you if your not careful.
Jones and about five other runners had separated from the pack and got to the bottom of the calf-biting hill first.
I got some shots, they looked like they could have used a shot and went on my way.
I love the Gallows on a spring night in my car. We cruise, legs not hurting at all.
Mr. Jones was working hard when he passed me and the next day had no recollection of seeing me, or anything else for that matter.
When I called to set up some media buys for the next week, my sharp minded friend was still suffering a bit from the LHRR practice run.
In all seriousness though, I admire anyone who takes the time and effort it takes to be part of this tremendous Sunday afternoon in June.
Jones and his mates got back in less than an hour, an outstanding time by any standard.
On Sunday, instead of being on his customary perch with the rest of the WZBG crew broadcasting the race, Jones will be out in the masses.
Best of luck my friend. Although don’t get your hopes to far up; the press truck will still come in before the runners.
It may take us a half hour to stumble off the old wagon but we’ll get there.
Enjoy good sir. Great work.