No raining on this parade: Families brave the weather to run in 42nd annual Women's Running Race

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PITTSFIELD — When stressing over the perfect way to show your mom how special she is on Mother's Day, it is important to remember that all she wants is to spend the day with her loved ones.

The celebration of Mother's Day kicked off early at Berkshire Community College for the 42nd annual Women's Running Race put on by the Berkshire Running Center, which partnered with the Elizabeth Freeman Center.

Despite subpar conditions — that included a downfall of rain — and a temperature in the mid-30s, mothers, daughters, and even the grandchildren smiled, laughed, and conquered one of the oldest all-female running races in the country together.

Jaimi Tudor-Champagne had ran in the Mother's day race before, but for the first time her daughter, Paige, joined her.

"She expressed some interest and we decided to try it. Even if we needed to walk we wanted to come out here and just finish," Tudor-Champagne said. "This was our first 5k together. I love it."

April Varellas started her morning by cheering on her kids in the 1-mile kids run, the first race of the day, before switching roles as the kids cheered for Varellas as she finished the race in 21:46.45, which was good for first place.

"It's great [to be out with the kids]," said Varellas, who also won last year's race. "An all-women's race for charity is a great community event to be a part of."

Speaking of community, when Michelle Mason, Danise Crane, and Jodi Hermanski started the race their goal was to all cross the finish line together. After a 30-minute scurry, the three crossed the finish line hand-in-hand.

"We decided when we started that we were going to finish together no matter what, so we stuck together the whole time," Mason said. "My aunts raced and so did my cousins and I got involved so its always been a family thing for us. It's amazing to get to spend this day with all my friends that are moms, plus my two sisters that are moms are here. Its a great cause."

While family played a huge role in the day's events, some were even inspired by their children to start running.

"My daughter started doing cross-country so that got me involved with running," said Maryrose Williams, who finished fifth overall. "This is my third year running the race and I never thought I would get so involved with running."

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For others, getting involved with a community like the Berkshire Running Center was a great step in picking up long distance running.

"When I was 35 I wanted to do something to better myself," Lisa Pixley, who finished with a time good for 13th, said. "I started running and last year I got involved at Berkshire Running Center that helped me get involved with this particular race. It's a great thing they do for women. Its a very uplifting all around while bettering yourself with some fitness."

For race director Shiobbean Lemme, an owner of the Berkshire Running Center, the women's race was the first time she ever laced up her shoes and tackled a road race back in 1994.

"I did this race before I was a mom," Lemme said. "I really liked the all-female aspect, so I would come out every Mother's Day and it was just the girls."

While Lemme is focused on continuing the tradition of the country's oldest all-women's race, the event, with the Elizabeth Freeman Center being the beneficiary of all the funds raised through the race, has evolved over the years.

"The Center has expanded its services to include everyone, so we brought that element in by putting in the community run," Lemme said. "I have to give mention to Susan Gordon, she is my co-director who does so much work behind the scenes to help with sponsors and make this happen."

Lemme's husband, Kent, took first overall in the community 5K with a time of 18:56.74. Varellas, after winning the women's race, was again the first women to cross the finish line, this time with a time of 22:57.67.

While a full-day of running could be tiring for some, that wasn't the case for Amanda Howland. Her daughter Caitlyn and grandson Dalton were up visiting from Florida. Not only did Amanda run the kid's race with Dalton and the women's race, she earned the triple crown by also joining in on the community race.

"Running with him is the best, he was super fast," Howland said of her grandson's race. "It was so exciting. Best Mother's Day ever."

Next time you're looking for the perfect Mother's Day gift, the simplest gesture will make her the happiest mom on Mother's Day — even if it's running a 5K in the pouring rain in 35-degree weather.

Jake Mendel can be reached at Jmendel@berkshireeagle.com, @Jmendel94 on Twitter and 413-496-6252.


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