By Brett Peruzzi, Contributing Writer
Marlborough – A local running club isn’t letting the COVID-19 pandemic be a roadblock to its fundraising efforts.
The Highland City Striders, a group of runners from the greater Marlborough/Hudson area, had to cancel its annual 10-kilometer race to benefit local food pantries, but they pivoted instead to a virtual race.
“Since March, all of our in person races were cancelled, but we still wanted to do something for the community, as food insecurity is still an issue,” said Judy Proteau, the club member who served as the race director. “For many years we have hosted a 10k event in July out of Kelleher Field.”
“We were able to donate $10,000 each to the Marlborough and Hudson food pantries last year,” she explained. “We decided to host a virtual race to raise money and also conduct a can drive for the Marlborough food pantry.”
Dubbed the Laborious Labor Day Race, entrants ran a five kilometer or 10 mile route of their choosing by themselves, within a specified time frame. Innovative solutions to current conditions inspired at least one runner with young children to choose to run her race on her home treadmill. The race fee to enter was 15 canned good items that would be donated to the food pantry. Cash donations to benefit the food pantry, the Marlborough Community Cupboard, a program owned and operated by the United Way of Tri-County. were also accepted. The program provides groceries, fresh produce, and gently-used clothing to hundreds of Marlborough residents each month.
After the race ended, members of the Striders delivered an SUV full of groceries and a check for $1,500 to the food pantry.
“The monetary donation will be used to purchase turkeys and fixings for Thanksgiving,” said Barbara LaGrenade, director of the Marlborough Community Cupboard.
“Thank you and all of your supporters for these fabulous donations,” she told club representatives enthusiastically.
Another new twist to the socially distanced nature of the race was a virtual awards ceremony, conducted live on Facebook by tuxedo-clad club member Peter Bakkala of Northborough. All prizes were also purchased and donated by club members.
“The Striders are a great, generous group of people.” said Proteau. “Most of us live in the Marlborough and Hudson area. We have folks of all ages and abilities – trail runners, joggers, people who are running to stay fit, and competitive Boston Marathon qualifiers.”
“We’ll be hosting another virtual race in November to benefit the Hudson food pantry,” she noted.
For more information about the Highland City Striders running club, which has been in existence since 2002 and raises funds for a variety of causes through its races, go to https://www.highlandcitystriders.org. To learn more or donate to the Marlborough Community Cupboard, visit https://www.uwotc.org/MCC.