By Dave Dyer
---- — Thanks to the Borderline Running Club, the North Andover 4th of July Road Race will officially return for 2013.
That’s good news for the running community because the race — which was hosted by the Merrimack Valley Striders for the most part — was a must-run event for years. And, after a two-year hiatus and an absence of five of the last six years, this will mark the 35th anniversary of the popular town event.
Actually, the Borderline Running Club (BRC) held an unofficial version of the race the last two years for those members who missed the original version, which ultimately started a 5K and 10K on Massachusetts Avenue between the Print Museum and the Town Common.
For years, the race was a focal point of the town’s 4th of July celebration in North Andover and enjoyed by runners and non-runners alike. When a town selectman approached members of the BRC to bring back the race, they eagerly agreed, with a mutual decision to donate all proceeds to the Friends of the North Andover Senior Center.
This is not only a big deal for North Andover, but also the BRC, which is far from your usual running club.
Formed in 2005 by Frank Killilea and Tom Reusch, the BRC is really just an informal group of runners. It meets on Saturday mornings at the Town Common for an informal run, usually between 5-18 miles. There are no club fees or uniforms, but there is a club membership requirement.
In order to qualify as a member, one needs to complete the roundtrip run with an existing member to each of the seven towns bordering North Andover and touch the “welcome” sign plus Salem, N.H. There are currently about 65 members with an email list of nearly triple that number.
“We’re really just a bunch of guys who like to run,” said Chris Marshall, a club member who is the 4th of July race director.
This will be the first race ever put on by the BRC. On the one hand, that’s a scary proposition but, on the other hand, most of the club is experienced with races and one can be assured that the state of the runners will be uppermost in priorities.
The Bay State Running Services out of Haverhill will time the races and all of the race officials are BRC volunteers. “So we won’t have to pay for a service to organize and run the race,” said Marshall. “It’s a lot of work, but we’re looking forward to it.”
Like in the past, the 5K and 10K races will start almost simultaneously at about 8:30 a.m. and both will finish at the Town Common near the starting line. Prior to the races, there will be a kids race, perhaps slightly shorter than the original 2K competition.
“We’re keeping it as close to tradition as we can,” said Marshall. “It was a great family event and a great race for runners and we want it to be that again. We’re expecting about 1,000 runners.”
A successful revival of the 4th of July race in North Andover will certainly be welcome by runners from around the region and it will also be a boon to the Borderline Running Club’s image, even if that’s something that is hardly a priority.
“I don’t think we want to get too organized and become like every other club,” said Marshall.