The Stratton Faxon Fairfield Road Race weekend kicked off with the annual 5K race that began and finished at Jennings Beach on Saturday morning. Runners -- and walkers -- were greeted by temperatures in the low 60s, as well as tremendous spectator support.
Downtown Fairfield residents lined the course streets and applauded runners; some handed out water the day before the 13.1-mile half marathon.
Timothy Milenkevich, 32, of Ansonia, led a field of more than 1,500 competitors in a time of 15 minutes and 54 seconds (15:54). Milenkevich, who has completed marathons (26.2 miles), won the race last year, too.
The cool weather was the hot topic on the beach as runners grabbed bottles of water and pieces of fruit, along with other snacks to replenish their energy.
"It definitely helps -- no humidity," said Milenkevich, adding that this was his fifth race in the last two weeks. He won four of them, but noticed his pace suffered toward the end of his most-recent victory.
"It's an awesome course -- a lot fanfare," Milenkevich said. "It just adds a little more energy."
New York's Hugh Parker was second in 16:36 over the 3.11-mile course and said after the race that he was pleased with his performance, especially since he is recovering from an IT band injury.
In fifth place was Nicholas Aeppel, who completed his run in 17:28. "It was a lot of fun. It was a great race -- perfect weather," Aeppel said.
In sixth was Christopher Barrett (17:33); Jeffrey Zawadzki was seventh (17:37) and David Bates eighth (17:41). Rounding out the top 10 were ninth-place finisher Nick Fraticelli, of Danbury (17:49), and Ben Ruffing, of Redding, finished in 17:51.
"It's nice because it's a lot cooler than it usually is. Usually, it's in the upper 80s with humidity," said Barrett, adding that he has participated in the 5K a few times and done three Stratton Faxon Fairfield Half Marathon races. "You see a lot of familiar faces from around town."
The top woman was Sleepy Hollow, N.Y. resident Julie McElroy, who placed 18th in 19:10. McElroy said most 5K races don't have such strong fan support. "They're really supportive," she said, adding that it's nice to see the interest for a short run.
"It was great. It was perfect weather and a fun crowd. It was a great race," said Pola, adding that she alternates running the half marathon and 5K race each year.
"The weather was perfect for running. The course was great. It felt super fast," said Driscoll, who is considering running the half marathon next year.
"I loved it," Sara Montero added. "It was the perfect excuse to get up early."
Andy Hutchison is a freelance reporter