Runners hit the streets this weekend for Fairfield Races
If you’re a runner or know any runners in the region then you are well aware that the place to be this weekend is Jennings Beach.
It’s once again time for another addition of the Faxon Law Fairfield Races, which have become an annual event for runners since 1981 when the Fairfield Fire Department began hosting the event.
The weekend festivities begin Saturday morning with the 5K race at 8:15 a.m. followed by a post-race beach party. The day finishes with a free outdoor concert on the Fairfield University DiMenna-Nyselius Library lawn featuring the band Alternate Routes.
The buildup continues into Sunday for the main event — the half marathon race, also starting at 8:15 a.m. — followed by another post-race beach party.
There’s a reason why fitness websites like www.dailyburn.com regularly rank Fairfield as the top half marathon in the state and one of the best in the nation — veteran runners keep coming back and new runners keep making it a priority on their to-do list.
“This will be my first half marathon,” said 35-year-old Seymour resident Brooke Riso. “I did the 5k race a few years back and I liked that one. The most I had ever run before training the last few months was six miles. I was told this one isn’t too hilly and is a good first one. Hopefully it won’t be my last.”
RULES OF ROAD FOR TRAFFIC - FAIRFIELD
Drivers are reminded that there will be road closures in the beach area Sunday morning during the Fairfield Half Marathon.
The race starts at 8:15 a.m. at Jennings Beach, but shuttles for runners will begin transporting runners to the starting line at 6:30 a.m. from the downtown railroad station. A post-race party starts at the beach at 9:45 a.m.
“Roads will be closed for short durations while runners pass from the start out to the turn around, and back into the beach area,” Deputy Police Chief Chris Lyddy said.
He said delays can last up to 45 minutes, particularly as the largest numbers of runners return to the beach area.
As the volume of runners permits, vehicular traffic will be allowed to cross the route.
Police plan to issue the following advisory Sunday:
1. Residents south of the Old Post Road, between Reef and Beach roads, should expect traffic delays between 8:15 and 8:35 a.m., and again when the runners return between 9:15 and 10:45 a.m.
2. Residents south of Oldfield Road, between Reef and Sasco Hill roads, should expect delays between 8:20 and 8:45 a.m., and again when runners return between 9:15 and 10:30 a.m.
3. Residents on and south of Pequot Avenue and Westway Road, as well as Oxford Road, should expect delays between 8:25 and 9:45 a.m.
RULES OF ROAD FOR TRAFFIC - WESTPORT
Runners will enter Westport on Greens Farms Road at the Fairfield town line, continuing to New Creek Road and on to Beachside Avenue before exiting into Southport.
Through traffic will be stopped or severely limited while runners make their way through town. Motorists should anticipate heavy delays due to road closures along the race route.
Race organizers state runners will enter town by approximately 9 a.m. and be off Westport streets by 10:15am. The race route runs for three miles on Westport roads.
Westport emergency personnel will be stationed inside the route area to respond to any emergencies with minimal delays.
Please consider alternate routes if you have to pass through the area. Residents along the route should expect that it will be difficult to get in or out of driveways during times of heavy runner presence.
Riso is like many runners that have flocked to the half marathon distance for a great challenge during the past 10 years.
“I’m a little nervous,” said Riso. “I keep having a dreams that I’m trying to run but I’m not moving. I wanted a challenge and figured a half marathon would be good. A co-worker of mine, April Nattinger, motivated me to sign up. I would like to do it in under two hours.”
Participation in half marathons has boomed in recent years and new half marathons continue to pop up in Connecticut every year. During this half-marathon craze the Fairfield race has continued to grow and last year 3,708 runners crossed the finish line.
“It’s such a great race and there is great crowd support,” said Naugatuck resident Lori Czajkowski, 44, who will be running the half marathon course for the third time on Sunday. “The crowds really help once you hit mile 8 or 9 and you start to feel fatigued. I have done some races where you don’t have any crowds and this race is much better. You also get to start and finish on the beach and run by beautiful homes. All the scenery is so New England. You start getting tired mentally, but then you look around and it keeps you going.”
Czajkowski, originally from Bridgeport, began running when she turned 40 and has done numerous 5K runs. This year’s Fairfield race will be her 10th half marathon. Some of her other half marathons include Bristol, Cheshire, Danbury, Hartford and Redding.
“I chose Fairfield for my first half in 2012 because I saw it was popular and it seemed like it would be really cool to do,” said Czajkowski. “The weather is warm and I loved the idea of it being near the beach. It went great the first time. I trained really well and I was pleasantly surprised with how I did. I was so excited I signed up for the Hartford half the next day.”
Czajkowski will also serve as a pacer this Sunday, leading runners to the finish line with a target time of two hours. This is the first year Fairfield has added pacers to the field and according to John Bysiewicz of JB Sports — the event management company organizing the race weekend — there are paces set for 1:40, 1:45, 2:00 and 2:15.
“We wanted to add something extra,” said Bysiewicz. “We are trying to add some more times this week. Hopefully next year we will have more.”
“It should be really good for new runners to have somebody setting the pace,” said Czajkowski, who also runs for Team Challenge Connecticut, which raises money for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America. “If you’re not sure of your pace and get a little lost with how fast you are going it will help. It will take the guess work out for some runners to just stay with a group. It should be really good.”
The half marathon course was changed in 2013 to take away some of the steep hills and bring runners back into Westport, which was part of the course during the events early years. One of the highlights for runners on the scenic course continues to be the turn onto Beachside Avenue which not only represents the halfway point of the race, but provides great views of the coast on the journey back to Jennings Beach.
The forecast for Sunday morning is for cooler than normal temperatures in the mid 60s, but that doesn’t mean Czajkowski is changing her advice for first-time Fairfield half runners.
“Definitely make sure you are hydrating well leading up to the race,” said Czajkowski. “It can be a hot race. Don’t pass by water stops without at least taking some sips of water even if you don’t feel like you need it. Take your time and have fun.”
And most likely those new runners will make the Fairfield half a part of their annual race schedule.
“I have enjoyed training for it,” said Riso. “After I finish this one I hope I will want to sign up for another one. We’ll see how it goes.”
Visit www.fairfieldhalf.org for more details on the weekend’s events.