SAVOY -- A tight knit group of runners, volunteers, police, firemen and onlookers gathered at the starting line of a new town race that organizers hope will support the elementary school for years to come.
The first-ever Savoy Loop -- a five-mile road race -- drew hundreds of onlookers and 51 racers from across Western Massachusetts, on Saturday.
Runners beat the afternoon heat as they took off from Emma L. Miller Elementary School at 10 a.m., at the command of organizer Greta Facchetti, a member of the school's parent-teacher group.
Later, they enjoyed a raffle of free items gifted from the community and admired a chance sighting of multiple American bald eagles, silencing all present. Proceeds and donations all went to benefit the school.
One onlooker cheering the runners, Alice Liebenow, 75, of Chapel Road, also sold tickets for a spaghetti supper at the fire department later that evening.
Liebenow recalled attending the elementary school in her youth, before the physical building and staff inside it grew in spurts.
"Back then it was one room, one teacher, eight grades," Liebenow said. "It was special to us then and its still special to us now. I love seeing the town come out and support it. Our kids are top of the line."
With so many in attendence, including many of the town's police officers and firefighters, the event's DJ at one point jokingly wondered aloud: "Who's watching Savoy? I don't know."
David Wilson, 51, of Lanesborough, won the race with a time of 32 minutes, 27 seconds. Jim Preite and Michael Tyler, of North Adams and Lenoxdale, repectively, took second and third place. Top finishers in the women's category included Hannah Hausman, of Williamstown, Helen Coty-Curtin, of Lee, and Robin Avery, of Adams.
Parent-teacher group members successfully pitched the idea of the race to the Western Mass Athletic Club earlier this year.
"Our goal is to have this as our big fundraiser and grow it every year," Facchetti said. "People that don't come to Savoy very often really got to see how beautiful it is here."
According to Facchetti, the event raised more than $4,000 in donations alone leading up to the race.
Members of the group reached out to more than 150 businesses across the county seeking event sponsors. A raffle of more than 50 items donated by those sponsors.
Facchetti also gave kudos to the town for supporting its institutions on Saturday, culminated by the fire department's dinner that evening.
"This is what I believe it should be all about," she said. "Community and working together. I think that's what happened today."
Savoy Loop 2014 has already been scheduled for Sept. 6, of next year.
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