There are few things more relaxing than a leisurely Sunday drive through Fairfield on a sunny, summer day.
Agitable Fairfield drivers would be loathe to agree, but it is true. You ride down the coast in your convertible, turning right onto Sasco Hill Road, before crossing into Southport. You veer past Pequot Yacht Club and onto Pequot Avenue, before connecting onto Mill Hill Road. You then cross I-95 and the Post Road into the Greenfield Hill section of town.
As the sun beams trade spots with a shady breeze down the tree-lined drives, there is nary a care in the world.
Alright, so I didn't have a convertible and I wasn't driving, but I still got to experience that route in all its beauty. Its scenic views -- which I observed from the bed of the "media truck" -- served as the backdrop for the 32nd-annual Stratton Faxon Fairfield Road Races this weekend.
But there is certainly more to this race than meets the immediate eye. Sure, Africans win it every year and it's still only a half marathon. But it could be argued that Fairfield puts its best foot forward by hosting this race every year.
The Fairfield Half Marathon is, by far, the biggest race that JB Sports -- the governing body that oversees every road race in Connecticut -- runs every year. Nearly 6,000 racers -- hailing from 11 countries, 36 states, Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico -- embarked upon Fairfield for the two racing events Saturday and Sunday.
And Fairfield opened its arms to the field and showed why it is one of the nicest places in America.
Credit Fairfield's Bravest, too, for hosting the race. Volunteers -- some firefighters, scouts or clubs -- lined the race with hydration stations and sprinklers to douse the sizzling runners. There were fans with signs, rooters cheering on -- not only their family or friend racing -- but the race leaders from Ethiopia, Morocco and Kenya, as well.
There were more than five bands lining the course, entertaining the cheering crowd and racers alike. The Fairfield Gaelic Pipes and Drums corps even pulled out their bagpipes to provide the soothing Irish sounds along the countryside.
Some communities would've -- and historically have -- pouted and thrown tantrums about alternate traffic routes and police escorts rolling through their houses at 9 a.m. on a Sunday morning. Yet, Fairfield was out in droves to celebrate the event.
They celebrate it because thousands of its participants hail from the town. Top Fairfield finisher Connor Rog did not run the race in 2011 and kicked himself for more than a year over it.
"I love this race and was disappointed that I didn't run it last year," Rog said.
Fairfield beams town-pride in myriad ways: from the numerous life-long residents it has, to the American vs. National Little League or Warde vs. Ludlowe High School debates. And with thousands of outsiders coming into Fairfield from all over the world, this is just one more way Fairfield can show its pride and the beauty it has to offer.
Soak it all in, the next time you can. It's a pretty special place to be fortunate enough to live.