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The following article first appeared on our Media Sponsor's website, www.registerstar.com

Sean’s Run a Growing Success
By Brian Radewitz

April 28, 2009
CHATHAM —
It was a perfect day to walk, jog and run as the eighth annual Sean’s Run kicked off Sunday with participants bursting out of the gate and temperatures soaring over the 80-degree mark.

“This was the nicest, warmest weather we have ever had,” said coordinator Mark French. “We’ve been through cold and rainy days over the last eight years and this was a very nice change.”

The event continues to grow in size year-by-year as a record 1,371 people registered for the run, which is close to 300 more than last year.

It has expanded to the point where parking has become a problem in the small town of Chatham as spaces were quickly filled, forcing participants to walk long distances to get to the starting point.

“Some people were saying they had to walk a 5K to run in the 5K,” joked French. “We keep growing every year. Participation has grown 50 percent in the last two years.”

The 1,371 runners varied in age and occupation. From toddlers in strollers to elders needing assistance, it seemed everyone in Chatham came out for the charity event that remembers Chatham High School’s Sean French.

French was a runner from the time he could walk. He held the record for the fastest mile at his alma mater with a 4:18.4 in his sophomore year and participated on the cross country team. The number of accolades that French held cannot be listed in full and his memory will continue Sean’s Run with each year.

No longer do the majority of runners come from the Chatham area to compete in the race. Sean’s Run now attracts racers from far reaching neighborhoods in the Columbia, Greene, Dutchess and Albany counties. Even though New York is the hometown for most of the runners, many made the trek from Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Jersey.

“I want to congratulate (Sean’s Run) for putting on an incredible event. I’ve only recently taken up running and this was my first Sean’s Run,” stated Chatham resident Gary Tuthill. “I have always been very impressed with all of the good education, scholarships and other causes that this event helps with. I was also very impressed with the number of participants. It is completely incredible how fast and how much this event has grown.”

The day got started with the World Championship Battle of the Belts, a fastest belt buckling competition between are high school and middle school students.

In the High School Division the Click Chicks from Taconic Hills High School’s Students Against Drunk Driving (SADD) won with a time of 31.0 seconds. The time ties the world record set in 2007 also by a team from Taconic Hills, The Click It or Tickets.

The Slayers from Pine Plains HS SADD came in second with a time of 32.0 seconds. In the Junior High School Division Chatham’s Legally Blondes scored a time of 38.14 seconds to take the crown. America’s Next Top Bucklers of Chatham placed second with a time of 38.5 seconds.

Awards were given out for Best Team Name, High School (Buckling Line Backers, Chatham); Best Team Name, Jr. High School (Site, Click, Drive, Mt. Marions School); Loudest Cheering Section, HS (Stissing Mt. HS, Pine Plains); Loudest Cheering Sections, Jr. HS (The Marathon Project, Poughkeepsie); Best Team T-shirts, HS (Mohonasen SADD) and Best Team T-shirt, Jr. HS (The 4 Belters, Amsterdam MS).

A raffle was also conducted and Andrew Behrens won a trip for two to see Jersey Boys Broadway play, donated by Chris and Randy Hahn. Carol Myers won a watercolor donated by Tom Warner, J.H. Loeffler took home a hand sewn quilt donated by Patricia Niles and Michael Behrens also won a hand sewn quilt donated by Patricia Niles.

Meghan’s Mile kicked off the long distance portion of the day.

The milelong walk/run has been a part of the event since the beginning and was named in remembrance of Meghan Kraham last year. Kraham passed away in 2007 after succumbing to a rare form of cancer. She was just 22 years old.

“Meghan was one of the several students that came together and helped organize the original Sean’s Run,” said Meghan’s mother Michele Kraham. “She ran the race every year and was an instrumental part in it. This is a great way to remember Sean and Meghan and it is a great tool to help educate younger kids on the dangers of drinking and driving.”

The number of Students Against Drunk Driving Organizations (SAAD) has grown dramatically since the inception of Sean’s Run. Mainly due to the huge role that students play in the event.

Jordan Healy took the top spot in Meghan’s Mile with a time of 5:56.0, which set a record for the run. Kaylee Scott crossed the line a half minute later at 6:21.6 to take home the second-place crown.

After the final runners strolled over the finish line for Meghan’s Mile, another, larger group stretched out and packed in behind the starting point for the 5K.

As the gun sounded runners battled for position and flew out of the parking lot and up the inclined exit. The stream of runners seamed to never end as the runners began to spread out and make their way through the course.

When the dust cleared, Matthew Forys of Howell, N.J. won the 5K with a time of 15:49.4, which was close to two minutes in front of the rest of the field. Craig Weiss of Loudonville came flying in over a minute later to claim second place with a time of 17:21.9.

As exhausted racers continued to pour in, volunteers waited at the gates to claim timing devices from their ankles.

Volunteers covered the high school parking lot like flies, each donning a bright green T-shirt, ready to lend a helping hand.

“The volunteer that took care of me was great (although) I did not catch her name,” stated Frank Palodino.

General Chairman Jeff French attributes much of the run’s success to these selfless faces.

“Thanks to our huge team of volunteers and our generous supporters, Sean’s Run was a success. Every year it just seems to get better. We ordered extra water when we saw the forecast and there was plenty for everyone, but the warm temperature caught a few runners off guard. Running hard on the first hot day of the spring can be difficult,” said French.

Most runners made it through the 5K without much of a problem, but a few collapsed and needed medical attention.

With another successful, record breaking weekend in the books, the Sean’s Run crew looks toward next year and surely hopes the turnout and the weather is as nice as it was Sunday.

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