EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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July 14, 2013

Fourth of July to remember

North Andover race is back and this race walker is on the comeback trail

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!

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