Applefest 5K seven-time winner to race again


By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer

Applefest 5K seven-time winner to race again
Chris Benestad (313) finishes first overall in 16:09 with Jon Green (400) following closely at 16:11 in the 2010 Applefest 5K Road Race. (File photo/Ed Karvoski Jr. )

Northborough – Chris Benestad, of Northborough, is among hundreds of runners preparing for the 19th annual Applefest 5K Road Race, scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 15. But he's the only one who has finished the race first overall seven times.

A math and economics teacher at St. John's High School (SJHS) in Shrewsbury, Benestad cited the 2010 race as his most memorable. He placed first two seconds before the second finisher, Jon Green, who was then age 15.

“A high school kid took off from the start,” Benestad said. “I chased him down by the mile mark and we ran together for the next two miles. We had an all-out sprint to the end.”

After crossing the finish line, Benestad realized they shared more than a skill for sprinting.

“It turns out, Jon was in my homeroom at St. John's – at the time, for just a few days,” he said. “This year, he'sl be a senior and in my statistics class. Now we get to run together and I'se helped him along with his running, which has been very successful.”

Benestad also participates in several marathons including Boston, which he ran the past seven years.

“Nothing compares to the Boston Marathon in terms of its size, the desirability of entry, and the crowd's excitement as they scream for you, no matter who you are,” he said. “Plus, it's in my backyard; the start [in Hopkinton] is 10 miles from my house, so I can train the course.”

Among the 341 finishers from central Massachusetts in the record-breaking heat of the 2012 Boston Marathon, Benestad placed second to Peter Gleason, who finished second at the 2011 Applefest 5K Road Race. Benestad achieved his personal best time for the Boston Marathon of 2:42:38 in 2008.

“If I can finish a race in the top 1 percent, then I's pretty happy,” he said.

On the Marathon course, he's also happy when he reaches Cleveland Circle in Brookline. That's where he always sees some special supporters: his wife, Kelly, and their sons, Matthew, 6, and James, 7.

“I know that at mile 22, I's going to get to see them and slap their hands,” he said. “I get an emotional boost, knowing that I have only four miles to go after I get there. And it's fun for them because they'se excited about going and watching the races.”

The boys also enjoy participating in races. While recently visiting Cape Cod, they placed third and fifth in a kids half-mile race.

For several years, Benestad coached cross country and track at SJHS, as well as a season of lacrosse and swimming. Now he devotes that after-school time to coaching for the town's youth programs for soccer, basketball and baseball. His sons participate in each of the programs.

“I get to spend time with my kids and I get to be at the ball field, playing and having fun,” he said.

In 2009, he helped organize a four-mile race to raise funds for a new playground for Proctor Elementary School, where his sons are now entering the first and second grades.

Benestad believes it's a sense of community that attracts participants and spectators to the Applefest race.

“It's nice to run in your hometown race,” he said. “As described by the race committee, it's a rolling course on country back roads.”

The Applefest race is organized by the Corridor Nine Area Chamber of Commerce, and sponsored by the Shrewsbury Health & Racquet Club and the Community Advocate. Preregistration received by Sept. 6 is $22; after is $27. For information, call the chamber office at 508-836-4444 or visit


No posts to display