By Bonnie Adams, Managing Editor
Region – The Corridor Nine Area Chamber of Commerce Applefest 5K Race is one of those “must do” fall races in New England, especially this year as the chamber's commemorates its 20th year as the hosting organization.
Registrations are now being accepted for this year's race which will be held Saturday, Sept. 21, at 10 a.m. at the Marion E. Zeh School, 33 Howard St., Northborough.
The Corridor Nine race began in 1993 when the town of Northborough invited the chamber to participate in the Applefest weekend festivities.
“Corridor Nine jumped at the opportunity to be part of this community celebration and organized its first race with a total of 25 runners participating,” chamber Vice President Karen Chapman said.
At that time, the race started at Westborough High School and ended at Assabet Park on Route 135 in Northborough. In 1994, the chamber partnered with the Central Mass. Striders organization and moved the race course to its permanent location with the start and finish at the Zeh School in Northborough. Race attendance numbers rose to 155 runners that year.
Along with the chamber's growth and development over the past 20 years, the race continued its own evolution.
“In 1996, responding to the requests of the race community, the chamber added more age categories and awarded prizes to the top finishers of those divisions which brought us 282 runners that year,” Chapman said.
The unpredictable New England weather often adds an element of drama as well.
Dave Jacobs, who serves as race director, noted 2004 was his first year in that position.
“That was the year that Hurricane Ivan hit the area,” he recalled. “At 10 a.m. that morning the skies just opened up! But everyone persevered. Runners are a unique bunch. And we just went with the flow.”
In 2007, Corridor Nine invited the local boys” and girls” high school teams to participate and compete for a trophy.
“This year we have sent invitations to 11 local schools as well as five central Mass. running groups,” Jacobs said.
Since 2007, race registration has continued to grow with well over 300 runners signing up each year. In 2011, Corridor Nine celebrated two milestones with 500 registered runners and recording over 5,000 runners that have participated in the race since its inauguration. At the 2012 race, Corridor Nine plunged into the technology age, Chapman said, and implemented “Chip Timing” for faster and more accurate race results for the runners.
Corridor Nine is proud of the growth of the race and its long history with the town of Northborough's Applefest tradition. To celebrate the 20th anniversary, all runners that are registered in this year's race will be entered into a grand drawing for a chance to win some great raffle prizes.
“We always like to do something innovative and fresh each year to make it special,” Jacobs said. “And this year we have some special surprises to celebrate our 20th anniversary.”
“This will definitely be a fun event for everyone – those running and those cheering them on,” he added.
Corridor Nine officials noted they would like to offer special thanks to the 2013 sponsors: Presenting Sponsors – SHARC (Shrewsbury Health and Racquet Club) and the Community Advocate; Supporting Sponsor – Elite Dental Care, and Finish Line Sponsor – Wegmans.
For more information and to register for the race, call the Corridor Nine office at 508-836-4444 or visit www.corridornine.org.