PITTSFIELD -- Mother's Day means more than just a greeting card, flowers or breakfast in bed to a group of local runners.
In what is a Mother's Day tradition for families all over Berkshire County, more than 200 runners participated in the 37th Annual Women's Running Race at Berkshire Community College on Sunday.
The race consists of 5-mile and 2-mile races around the hilly BCC campus and neighborhood. Proceeds and donations from the race go to the Elizabeth Freeman Center, the Denise Kaley Fund and Girl Scouts of Western Massachusetts.
One key supporter of the Women's Race is Ed Vella of Pittsfield. Vella's wife Ann died four year ago of lung cancer. In her honor, the Ann Vella trophy is awarded to one runner each year. This year, Catherine Roberts, winner of the 5-mile, 60-and-over age group took home the trophy.
The 5-mile race was split into five different age categories. Laura Najimy of Pittsfield took the overall title with a time of 35 minutes and 7 seconds. The 2-mile race consisted 11 different age categories, ranging from age 8 and under to 80-89. Lenox High School's Nicole Gamberoni finished first overall with a 12:53 time.
This year, the race was held in honor of Marge Gulick. Gulick participated in 21 races, and race director Kathy Korte said this year's race was a great way to honor her memory.
"Marge was a local veterinarian [at the Bilmar Small Animal Clinic] who loved to be physically active," Korte said. "She tried to get people to come [to the race], tried to get donations for us, and the race was a huge part of her Mother's Day."
Marge Gulick's son Don Gulick said being at the race reminded him of how important the race was to his mother.
"[The race] means quite a bit," he said. "She's been gone six months and I still haven't totally gotten over it. That's how big her presence was. Not just here for this race, but for other things also. She's left a big shadow to try and follow."
Gary Korte, husband of Kathy Korte said the family atmosphere of the Women's Race is what makes it special. The fact that the race is women only, and combines cross-country and road racing elements makes it unique as well.
"The is race is women only not to be exclusionary, but to support and show what women can do," he said. "This is their day."
The celebration of women, life and family is what motivates cancer-survivor Maureen Forestell of Pittsfield to compete, even while she was recovering from cancer treatment. Forestell battled breast cancer and then suffered a lung complication because of radiation. Throughout her battle, however, racing in the Women's race was always a priority.
"Probably my biggest trauma was that I couldn't do the Women's Race," she said.
With help from her husband and her granddaughters, Forestell rode in a wheelchair -- oxygen tank and all -- for the length of the race in 2008. Forestell has competed in all but one Women's Race since its inception, and on Sunday, she completed the two-mile race free from a wheelchair and oxygen tank.
"It's been a part of our lives for so many years. It's not just a family gathering -- it's more," Robyn Maccabe, Forestell's granddaughter, said.
Maureen Forestell's perseverance and positive spirit is an inspiration to her entire family, "especially with breast cancer, it's curable now -- it's not a death sentence," Lisa Forestell said. "It's nice to know that people can get this diagnosis and not feel like it's the end of their world. It's a huge bump in the road. ... But you can come out stronger and it shows every year."
Family also played a key role in fueling 5-mile winner Najimy. Najimy raced with several generations of her family (nine members in all) on Sunday, and raced in memory of her mother Alice, who died in 2002 from colon cancer.
"My mother loved this race," Najimy said. "The last race she ran, she was battling cancer and she won her age division -- she took home a trophy.
"I swore I'd stopped racing, but I came back. Now I race every year in her memory."
Overall, the Women's Race raised more than $5,000 toward its charities and had an above-average turnout with 197 runners in the 2-mile and 47 in the 5-mile.
Overall -- 1. Nicole Gamberoni 12:53; 2. Alice Najiy 13:00; 3. Heather Hassett 13:18. 0-8 -- 1. Mia Zuccalo 17:19; 2. Abigial Parker 17:24; 3. Jossirah Hanger 19:21.
9-11 -- 1. Anna Najimy 16:45; 2. Simira Hanger 18:01; 3. Kaitlyn Olds 18:19. 12-14 -- 1. Cate Bryne 14:59; 2. Bella Rose Carchedi 15:13; 3.Eliana Clark 15:22. 15-19 -- 1. Emma Rae Carchedi 14:05; 2. Halle Hassett 14:56; 3. Karli Manship 15:08. 20-29 -- 1. Karla Chaffe 14:47; 2. Caseu Gaul 15:54; 3. Catherine Lampias 16:50. 30-39 -- 1. Sharon Wong 14:20; 2. Kaitlyn Harding-Ferrari 17:23; 3. Kerri Timoney 17:45. 40-49 -- 1. Mary Conlan 15:28; 2. Melissa Canata 15:46; 3.Allyce Najimy 15:59. 50-59 -- 1. Ellen Lomaglio 14:31; 2. Mary Sheehan 14:54; 3. Doreen Donovan 17:39. 60-69 -- 1. Cynthia Gardner 14:27; 2. Juliette Wilk-Chaffee 21:56; 3. Mary Jane Sackett 22:38. 70-79 -- 1. Elaine Roccabruna 25:50; 2. Beverly Davis 31:18; 3. Maureen Forestell 33:53. 80-89 -- Mary Korte 41:40
Overall -- 1. Laura Najimy 35:07; 2. Kara Mauer 37:00; 3. Martha Berrouard 37:11.
19 and Under -- 1. Anita Curtin 38:20; 2. Anya Shelden 44:17; 3. Mary Hayes 47:34.34. 20-29 -- Sarah Fugiwara 51:50. 30-39 -- 1. Tracy Candilore 38:54; 2. Elisha Poirer 39:26; 3. Collenn O'Donnell 39:55. 40-49 -- 1. Andrea Wagner 37:57; 2. Mary Conlan 39:30; 3. Helen Coty-Curtin 39:49. 50-59 -- 1. Barbara McMahon 47:12; 2. Janet Rivers 52:47; 3. Susan Williams 53:38. 60 and Over -- 1. Catherine Roberts 51:51; 2. Janet Mickle 64:23.
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