Monday November 12, 2012

NORTH ADAMS -- Pfc. Jason Burdick and Spc. Amanda Bascom didn't win Sunday's inaugural "Up Front for DeMar Run and Walk" on Sunday, but they probably won the most applause as they crossed the finish line.

Burdick, 32, and Bascom, 26, covered the 5K race in full military gear -- including 40-pound backpacks.

"We ran this way because that's how he would have had to do it," said Bascom.

Bascom was referring to Spc. Michael R. DeMarsico, a North Adams native who volunteered for the Army after graduation from Drury High School. DeMarsico was killed in August by an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan.

Sunday's race, which attracted more than 150 participants, raised $4,115 for a scholarship fund in his name. The event featured a 5K run and a 1K walk, according to organizer Eileen Moynahan.

Moynahan, a friend of the DeMarsico family, said she organized the race "because I want to make sure Mike isn't forgotten."

The winner of the race, in an unofficial time of 19:07, was Tim Allard, 26, of Pittsfield. Allard shot across the finish line like a jet and was barely breathing hard after the run.

"It was for a good cause, and there really aren't a lot of races at this time of year," said Allard, a graduate of Wahconah Regional High School in Dalton, and a runner for Western New England College a few years ago.

"Plus," he said, "this is the first race I've ever won, so I'm excited about that."

The top woman finisher was Cynthia Gardner, 61, of Pittsfield. Gardner is the two-time defending national champion in her age group in the 20K race. So she wasn't breathing too hard after the race, either.

"I ran a 12K on Saturday, and a friend called me up and told me about this race," said Gardner. "I support the cause and I love running."

Burdick and Bascom have been friends since they were youngsters. Both presently serve stateside.

"Unfortunately, we didn't know him," Bascom said of DeMarsico. "He's a little younger than we are. But we wanted to honor his service."

The race, which ended at the North Adams American Legion Post 125, was part of a larger Veteran's Day celebration in North Adams. Following the race, activities, including a parade, were scheduled for late morning. The parade route ran north on American Legion Drive, east on Main Street and then onto Eagle Street at the Veterans Memorial, according to Dennis St. Pierre, Commander of Post 125 in North Adams.

The main speaker at the Veterans Day observance was Lawrence A. Connors, a decorated veteran of the Vietnam conflict who served for many years as the Commander of the Braintree Post 86.

"This is our day, a day to honor veterans," said St. Pierre. "But also has everything to do with Michael. When he came home, the streets were lined with people in honor of this kid, and we support that."

To reach Derek Gentile:
dgentile@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6251.
On Twitter: @DerekGentile