‘It's such a great day today, just look at it -- beautiful day, beautiful event, beautiful people," said Pittsfield resident Mary Huth, after completing the 10K adult race at the seventh annual BrockTrot in Lenox on Sunday.
It was her fifth year participating in the race, which began across from the Lenox Town Hall, and ended on Old Stockbridge Road near Shakespeare & Company.
Huth was one of roughly 500 people who participated in the event, which was named in memory of Brock Wilkerson, a marathon runner and father of two who died from lung cancer seven years ago at 47.
Each year's proceeds benefit the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute's Lowe Thoracic Oncology Program, and its research on lung cancer prevention for non-smokers like Wilkerson. Since 2006, the BrockTrot has raised nearly $250,000 for the institute's research.
The event drew a diverse mix of people who participated in four different races: the adult 10K, the adult 5K, the Community BrockWalk and the one-and-a-half mile Kids Race.
"This ranges from tots to 70-year-olds."
said Karen Clairmont, one of the race's
"People want to get so involved because most have been touched or impacted in some way by cancer," she said.
One person impacted directly by cancer was race executive director John Toole, who was one of Wilkerson's longtime friends.
"This race is everything Brock loved -- family, running and the beauty of the Berkshires," Toole said, whose L.V. Toole Insurance Agency is the event's primary sponsor.
The event kicked off with a 9 a.m. start for the 10K and 5K races and the BrockWalk. The children's race began at 10 a.m. After the race, it was time for participants and many of the day's 100 volunteers to file into the playhouse for the awards ceremony.
Toole greeted the audience and spoke about Wilkerson's dedication as a father, and the impressive fact that he ran three marathons while he had stage 4 lung cancer.
Toole then welcomed state Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli, D-Lenox, and Wilkerson's daughters, Caroline and Elizabeth, who were on hand to give out awards.
Phil and Sue Knoll of Monterey were both in the audience to cheer on their daughter, Lana, who came in third in the 10-year-old girls category.
"It's a really great event that just pulls everyone together," Phil Knoll said. His wife agreed, adding that it felt great to be part of an event that benefited cancer research.
Caroline and Elizabeth both said the event will always feel bittersweet.
A freshman at St. Lawrence University in Canton, N.Y., Elizabeth said Sunday's race marked her first time home since starting college.
"The race went from a very sad thing to something hopeful," said Caroline, a junior at Lenox Memorial High School.
Elizabeth echoed her sister's thoughts.
"It used to be hard because of our loss," she said, "but it's great because we've grown up along with the event -- we've grown up together."