By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
Marlborough – The 10th Police Chase 5K, presented by the Marlborough Police Patrol Officers Association in memory of Sgt. William Kirby, returned Sept. 7 after a three-year hiatus. This year, 148 runners and walkers completed the race to benefit the city's new K-9 program.
Fundraising continued as more guests joined the post-race activities including raffles, live musical entertainment, and a cookout donated and prepared by the Fraternal Order of Marlborough Eagles Aerie #3565. The event took place at the Marlborough Moose Family Center, which was offered free of charge by the organization for the fundraiser.
Officer Pat Hogan has served as the race director since its inception in 2001. That year the benefiting charity was the Massachusetts Law Enforcement Memorial in Boston.
“We wanted to do something to build brotherhood,” he said. “We figured a golf tournament wasn's going to cut it for us, so we decided to do a road race.”
The following year, Sgt. William Kirby of the Marlborough Police Department died after an eight-month battle with pancreatic cancer. From 2002 through 2009, proceeds from the Police Chase 5K went to the Pancreatic Cancer Alliance. His widow, Carol, attended the race each year. She passed away last October of lung cancer.
The race still memorializes Sgt. Kirby, who epitomized the term “a cop's cop,” Hogan noted.
“When you think of what a cop should look like in the perfect uniform, it's Kirby who comes to mind,” he said. “He was a great guy and a friend.”
Hogan was unable to organize the race in recent years because of a work-related injury.
“I was out of work for three years with a back injury; they almost retired me twice,” explained Hogan, who ran this year's race and finished second among the eight participants in the law enforcement category.
Placing first overall was Zachary Lambert of Marlborough in 18:22. The first-place female finishing in 22:24 was Andrea Panzera of Millbury. The city's familiar race participants included Mayor Arthur Vigeant and Police Chief Mark Leonard.
The post-race activities featured musical entertainment by Marlborough resident Billy Claire of the popular band The Allens, and a teacher at Fay School in Southborough.
As in past years, a highlight of the cookout was the presentation of the Cop's Cop Award, which is named after Sgt. Kirby. The honorees are chosen by previous years” recipients. This year's Cop's Cop Award winners were Det. Michael Giaquinto and Officer Borden Wicks.
At the same time Hogan was ready to reorganize this race, the police department was planning to add a dog unit. They decided the new K-9 program should benefit from the 10th Police Chase 5K.
“Marlborough has grown to the point where we need a dog,” Hogan said. “When we need a dog, we call Shrewsbury and the state all the time. We can be sitting there for 45 minutes waiting for a State Police dog to show up. That's a long time when you need to find somebody in the woods, and it's dark and cold. Forty-five minutes might make the difference between whether we find them alive or dead.”
The department's K-9 handler, Officer Ken McKenzie, arrived while the cookout was in progress. He was busy earlier that day picking up the city's dog, named Kaiser. McKenzie and Kaiser will begin 14 weeks of training Monday, Sept. 30, in Boston. Later, they'sl go back for five weeks of narcotic drug training.
“We'sl see how the funding goes for the K-9 program,” Hogan said. “If they don's need more money, there's always somebody who does needs it. We'sl be back with the race next year.”