NORTH ANDOVER — The North Andover 4th of July Road Race is now back at full throttle and that’s fantastic news for runners.
This old geezer of a reporter has very fond memories of this race. I think the first time I ran it was in 1993 or 1994. At the time, I was working as a counselor in a program for troubled teenagers.
I persuaded two or three of the teens to run in the race with me and they had a good time. They also seemed to be pleased that they could actually start a race — on a very hot and humid day — and finish it.
For the next several years, I ran a race just about every Fourth of July. Sometimes it would be the Jennifer Tinney Race in Boxford, a 5-miler; and sometimes it would be North Andover – and ALWAYS the 10K when I ran in North Andover!
In addition to the heat and humidity — I cannot recall a North Andover 4th of July Road Race when the weather was not hot and humid — this race challenges runners with a steep hill just minutes after the start.
“Is this (expletive deleted) hill ever going to end?” I muttered to myself many times as hundreds of other runners and I huffed and puffed our way up Johnson Street. When I crossed the finish line on Massachusetts Avenue, however, I was always glad that I’d run the race.
Unfortunately, no good thing lasts forever and that includes one’s career as a runner. For more than 30 years, I was passionate about running. Too bad I never, ever had the talent to match that passion!
I even ran three Boston Marathons, in 1990, 2001 and 2002. My best time was about 5:30 in 2001.
Again, I never claimed to have any talent as a distance runner — but I loved the sport!