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...3, 2, 1, BANG!Held Sunday, 15 June 2008 in Belmont, MA

Belmont, MA – Course records were smashed once again by some of New England's top local speedsters at the Seventh Annual Brendan’s Home RunTM”. An impressive crowd of runners participated despite driving rains.  It was a great tribute to the strength of the event that such a strong showing took place despite the challenging conditions, making great use of the newly refurbished Belmont community track facility and operating under the direction of The Brendan Grant Foundation.

What an interesting event it was! We knew we would eventually some day be tested by the weather, and this was the year. Under the circumstances we were very pleased with how everything turned out.  The many volunteers helped assure that all operations functioned properly, despite the significant challenge of the downpours.

At about 8:00 am on race day morning, with volunteers busily finalizing the race set-up under ominous clouds, the skies finally opened up and the rain came with a fury. It abated after 45 minutes or so and we thought perhaps we might catch a break, which allowed the moderate crowd of walkers to depart at 9:30 am under drizzly yet tolerable conditions. Then, at And they're off!about 10 minutes before the starting gun fired at 10:00 am, the rain once again returned with a passion. When the starting gun finally fired we were deeply inspired to see the 300 plus runners taking off under these challenging conditions. This serves as the ultimate testimony to the profoundly embedded spirit of this 5K race event.

This was indeed a day for the runners, and multiple course records were set. Returning course champion Dan Vassallo once again broke his own record set last year (at 15:55) with a time of 15:51. However, for the first time in the last six years Dan placed second and was out-paced by new-comer Paul Ryan of Cambridge, MA who set the new course record with a blazing time of 15:25 (approximately 5 minuteMichael Collins miles)! All race results are available at CoolRunning.com. The women’s record was likewise shattered with Lara Johnson of Boston finishing at 18:16, almost a full minute faster than the record set last year at 19:15. Clearly we continue to see elite runners attracted to this 5K race.

Another truly noteworthy record was set by the oldest person that we’ve ever had participate, this being Michael Collins at 77 years young, who sparkled with a time of 32:22. Among Mike’s many other impressive lifetime accomplishments, perhaps most notable is his role as command module pilot for Apollo 11 when man first landed on the moon in 1969.

Brendan's Home Run, continues to attract excellent runners from the local area. The top five fastest men overall were: (1) Paul Ryan, Cambridge MA 15:25 (course record); (2) Dan Vassallo, Brunswick ME 15:51; (3) Joshua Gordon, Boston MA 16:21; (4) Carmen Monks, Belmont MA 17:38; and (5) Fred Criniti, Lexington MA 17:59. The top five fastest women overall were: (1) Lara Johnson, Boston MA 18:16 (course record); (2) Karen Monks, Belmont MA 20:03; (3) Anya Price, Natick MA 20:46; (4) Karin Lehr, Belmont MA 20:54; and (5) Carolyn Mehaffey, Belmont MA 21:30. 

Smiles by the mileTheir performances put the exclamation point on another successful running of what has become an entrenched and well-functioning community event. Brendan's Home Run traverses an officially  measured and certified course in accordance with the requirements of the USA Track & Field Road Running Technical Council (Certification Code: MA03028RN©). The accredited 5K course is primarily flat, features plenty of shade, and allows the best runners to capture excellent times. The race starts and ends at the Belmont High School Track, and the course loops out through the Winn Brook neighborhood and back upon itself. This means that halfway into the walk, the fastest runners begin passing the walkers, while the slower runners ultimately finish at about the same time as the walkers. Some will tell you that there is no better vantage point to watch the runners and cheer them on than to participate as a walker. 

The event has something for everyone, regardless of age or skill (or lack thereof). The 3.1-mile walk stepped out at 9:30 a.m. and the 5K road race starting gun was fired at 10 a.m. As the runners took to the streets, 400-meter and 800-meter races for children ages 6-8 and 9-12 were held on the Belmont High School track. There were six age categories in which 5K road race entrants registered: 19 and under; 20-29; 30-39; 40-49; 50-59; and 60 and over.  Special recognition is provided to the fastest male and female Master (age 40 - 49) and Veteran (50 plus), and this year these went to: Male Master - Carmen Monks, Belmont 17:38; Female Master - Karen Monks, Belmont 20:03; Male Veteran - Robert Carey, Belmont 19:49; and Female Veteran - Linda Jennings, Belmont 21:43.

There were lots of fathers who were running as a team with their son or daughter. Brendan’s Home Run, which celebrates parent-child relationships and is purposefully scheduled each year on Father’s Day, encourages parent-child participants to run in tandem for a best combined time. Awards were presented in each category and, in keeping with the event's family theme, the road race acknowledges the fastest parent-child tandems with trophies. Who cares about rain? The fastest parent-child team were: (1) Eric & Elijah Bucher, Wayland MA 40:27; (2) Michael & Anya Price, Natick MA 42:38; and tied for third were (3) Robert & Chiara Cipriano, Belmont MA 43:32 and (3) Michael T. & Michael C. Griffin, Belmont MA 43:32.  The full race results for all the 5K runners are available on CoolRunning.com, and awards were presented to the fastest runners in each of the 12 age and gender categories.
Paul Ryan, 15:25
Awards were also provided for the fastest members of the Belmont Little League, as the teams of Belmont Youth Baseball have traditionally turned-out in large numbers to support the event, most often by walking as individual teams. This year 24 teams were represented from Belmont Babe Ruth, Little League and Instructional League. A few running protégés always enter the 5K run instead of walking with their team, and it has been noted that some of these future track stars post amazingly fast times.  Trophies are provided for the fastest 5K Belmont Little Leaguers, and they were: (1) Sami Belkadi 23:36; (2) Danny Rizzo 25:19; and (3) Kole Kelly 25:58.

In what has become a highlight of Brendan’s Home Run, kids’ races on the track are open to 6-8 year olds who run once around the track for 400 meters, as well as 9-12 years olds who must complete the circuit twice for an 800 meter contest. These races traditionally begin with the classic "Charge of the Light Brigade" on the loudspeakers and awards are provided for the fastest boy and girl in each race. Every child’s efforts are acknowledged with a ribbon, and each wears the number “1”, commemorating Brendan Grant’s uniform number for the Belmont High School baseball team.  This years winners were: Dan Vassallo, 15:51
(1st) Kalvin Perkins, 8, Belmont, (2nd-tied) Michael  and Daniel Odonghue, 8, Lexington;
(1st) Sophie Butte, 7, Belmont, (2nd) Lauren Hamilton, 8, Arlington, (3rd) Mere Chasse, 6, Somerville;
(1st) Eric Butte, 11, Belmont, (2nd) Cole Bariels, 10, Belmont, (3rd) ;Seth Warner, 10, Belmont;
(1st) Grace Eysenbach, 10, Belmont, (2nd)Kayla Kaloostian, 9, Belmont, (3rd) Grace Maddox, 9, Belmont.

A small army of volunteers were on hand early Sunday morning to set up registration and refreshment booths, prepare the track and sound system, and attending to the hundreds of details that result in the efficient execution of top notch road race in a very short time frame. The rising numbers of entrants coming from areas other than Belmont attest to the increasing skill with which The Brendan Grant Foundation pulls off this event each year. 

Of course, Brendan’s Home Run also owes much of its success to the support of its sponsors, led by Presenting Sponsors Belmont Savings Bank and Belmont Dental Group, and also including Contributing Sponsors Belmont Lions Club, Belmont Wheelworks, Champions Sporting Goods, and Mt. Auburn Hospital. Their contributions help the event maximize the funds it raises for the various initiatives of The Brendan Grant Foundation and its associated scholarship program.

A sweeping range of individuals and organizations helped make this year’s race/walk the great success that it was. In addition to the afore-mentioned sponsors, significant in-kind donations were also provided by: Belmont POMS, Conley's Pub, General Mills (Yoplait), Russo's Supermarket, and others. Numerous outstanding raffle prizes were awarded including lots of tickets to the Boston Red Sox, and a special tip-of-the-hat goes to all who donated these prizes and helped make it a special Father’s Day for all the raffle prize winners.

"Brendan's Home Run"One reason the event went smoothly was because of the dependable support provided by the staff of the Belmont Department of Public Works, as well as important traffic control from the Belmont Police Department and the standby assistance of the Belmont Fire Department. The individuals that directly helped make the day a success number close to 100 people, and although they are too many to mention here, we are deeply appreciative for their important volunteer efforts. But in particular, we would like to express our special thanks to those involved with the core planning activities, as well as the volunteers that came or contributed their time from the BHS Baseball, Field Hockey, Softball, Track and Wrestling teams, and the staff of the National Fire Protection Association in Quincy, MA. 

Brendan's Home Run is a cornerstone of development efforts on behalf of The Brendan Grant Foundation. The foundation is dedicated to enhancing youth development, and carries out its mission through clinics, mentoring programs, field/facility enhancements, and scholarships given annually to two graduating high school seniors. The foundation, and its various events such as the 5K race/walk, honors the memory of Brendan Grant, the 19-year-old Belmont baseball player who was fatally injured in an outfield collision during a Senior Babe Ruth game in June 2001. Brendan was a three-season athlete in the BHS Class of 2000, where he was the captain of the wrestling and baseball teams. In 2001, he was the starting third baseman during his freshman year for American International College.What rain?

Perhaps the most visible foundation project is the rebuilding of the Belmont High School varsity baseball field where Brendan played his last game. Also of note are the annual scholarships that provide financial assistance to qualified seniors from Belmont High School who will be attending an institution of higher learning after graduation. The scholarship is awarded to a senior member of the varsity baseball, softball and wrestling teams’ that demonstrates the same positive spirit and leadership skills - both on the field and in the community - for which Brendan was known. Those who cannot participate in Brendan's Home Run but wish to contribute to The Brendan Grant Foundation may send donations to P.O. Box 184, Belmont, MA 02478.

The efforts expended by everyone – volunteers, participants, town departments, high school athletes – each year have helped make this race an annual tradition that gets better and better over time.  Click here for the story on last year's successful race/walk. Some see Brendan’s Home Run becoming a perennial event that will endure for years to come, bringing families, and the town as a whole, together to celebrate parents and children, teamwork, and community.

Whether you were a runner, walker, volunteer, contributor, or a supporter in spirit but unable to attend, I'm sure that you'll agree that it was great day and a lot of fun for a very worthy cause. 

We're already excited for Father’s Day 2009, and we hope to see you then!  Rain or shine!