By Owen Kendall
The goal of the Franklin Park Mile is bigger than you can imagine. The aim is to transform the world, changing the way people experience their lives. The world today is a global one; it is a multi-racial, multi-ethnic, multi-linguistic, multi-gender mosaic with more connectivity than anyone ever imagined possible. And though community is sometimes forgotten with the possibility of faraway connections, it is essential for everyone. A strong community can produce wellness in a way that almost nothing else can and yet many people are becoming less and less connected to those around them.
The Franklin Park Mile’s role is to raise awareness for community running and community development through running that a new movement of free community running is making a reality. Free community running supports the natural development of communities that revolve around common activities, supporting a population that is both empowered and capable of empowering those around them.
In its first year, the Franklin Park Mile drew well over 200 people to an incredible day in Franklin Park. Many of them had never raced before, while others were winners of prestigious races, and yet it appeared that every person walked away from the event with a bit more bounce in their step and a feeling that the Franklin Park Mile was onto something.
There were only winners at the first annual Franklin Park Mile. Everyone who toed the line tested themselves. There were incredible races for the tape, with the women’s race decided over the last forty meters, Kim Lockwood out-kicking Forest Hills Runners’ own Jennifer Flynn (who’d already raced a 5k that morning), and Alyssa Charney of Vassar College charging at the end to round out the top three.
Pat Fullerton bested the men’s field, floating over the distance in 4:25, after which he only said, “that was a tough course” with a bit of a smile. Andrew Rotz cruised through in 4:37 with a big smile on his face. Dave Moyer, a steepler who ran for Penn State’s club team until graduating this past summer, came in third.
The best part of the day came with the 16-and-under race. Some amazing young athletes showed up since every kid ran free. Even with a slight mixup with the start and an unnecessarily long warmup, 14-year-old Isaiah Sealy flew over the hilly one mile course in 6:15 with Maya Freifeld, the top 16-and-under girl for the day, pushing him to the tape in an amazing photo-finish. Freifeld barely nosed Sealy out to become the top 16-and-under finisher overall. Francisco Fernandez and Brandon Tejada finished in second and third for the boys, while Angelise Santos and Paola Sepulveda took home the prizes for the girls. These young runners have a bright future ahead of them, especially considering that this was the first race any of them had run. Most importantly, we hope they won’t forget the great feeling that came from competing, from pushing themselves, and from seeing how much more they could give if they reached down deep enough.
Running is possibly the greatest metaphor for life. Some days, every step you take will be incredibly difficult; other days, every step of your run will feel light and joyful. But if you stick with it and you do a little every day, you will improve. Unlike most parts of life, where you’re never quite sure if you’re progressing or not because it’s difficult to define what better is, the clock doesn’t lie. You will see your improvement and that will help you to see that if you put a little time every day into the things that matter to you, you will improve. Giving more people, from diverse backgrounds, the opportunity to experience this is one more reason the Franklin Park Mile is an important event for Boston, but even more for the people from the neighborhoods surrounding Franklin Park.
Results from this first year event can be found here.