WELLFLEET — The conditions were perfect Sunday morning for the 48th annual Wellfleet 5-Mile Road Race. At least that’s what Robert Blakeslee, who has participated in the race for the past 34 years, said.
“When the dew point is over 70, it becomes a real struggle,” Blakeslee said. “Today, though, was beautiful.”
The second-largest road race on Cape Cod drew a slew of runners this year — 135 veterans and first-timers — to a challenging course peppered with rolling hills. “It’s a long five miles,” said Wellfleet Recreation Director Rebecca Rosenberg. “It feels like 10.”
The event is a family tradition for many, including Rosenberg, who has been organizing the race since 1997. Dan Rosenberg, her brother, has run in all 48 races. The course hasn’t changed in all those years, he said: “I know every little inch and every little hill.”
He remembers the very first race, which took place in 1975, the year after he graduated from Nauset High School. “I finished in 98th place,” Rosenberg said. “Out of 98.”
A police cruiser was bringing up the rear that day, keeping the cars away. Rosenberg was walking when an officer finally asked, “Dan, you want a ride?” This year, he claimed, he’s in much better shape than he was then.
Truro part-timers and siblings Max Aronow, 25, of Bloomfield, Conn., and Rachel Aronow, 27, of Amherst, were the first man and woman to finish. Although both were first-time participants, they said they were familiar with the course, having biked it in past years.
“I was trying to beat my little brother’s time from last year,” Max said. “And I did — by 35 seconds.” Last year, Miles Aronow won the race with a time of 27:06.
“Now we’ll have matching mugs,” said Max.
Instead of the typical medal or trophy, the Wellfleet race awards the winners of each age division a handcrafted mug from the Newcomb Hollow Shop and Gallery.
“We like to support the local galleries,” Becky Rosenberg said. “This is a nice memento of Wellfleet.” Second- and third-place finishers in each division received a mermaid figure or a bracelet.
Other top finishing men included Michael Bueker, who won the male 18-and-under division in 29:05; Patrick Bugbee, who won the age 30-39 bracket in 27:20 (finishing second overall); Matt Taylor, who won among those 40-49 in 28:23; Michael Abrahams, who won 50-59 in 32:09; Dean Dawson, who won 60-69 in 39:00; and David Agger, who won 70 and over in 50:20.
On the women’s side, Katie Greenwald won the 18-and-under division in 33:27; Rachel Aronow won the 19-29 division in 32:30; Carolina Clark won the 30-39 division in 36:52; Emily Taylor won the 40-49 division in 35:17; Jennifer Honig won the 50-59 division in 44:59; Susan Spenser won the 60-69 division in 40:20; and Janet Kenny won 70 and over in 49:05.
Blakeslee, who is 83 and had been down with a case of shingles, used to run in “34 or 35 minutes,” he said. Despite Blakelee’s age, Dan Rosenberg said he “is still lean and mean.”
Before the race, Blakeslee warned, “I won’t be able to talk after — don’t ask me any questions.” But it seems he underestimated himself, jogging in at 1:02:58 and answering questions soon after crossing the finish line. “I ran the whole thing,” he said. “I don’t walk.”
For those returning, the race holds memories — some happy, some painful.
Kyle Morse, whose father, Bob Morse, was an organizer of the first race in 1975, has been running in it since 1995 and has plenty of memories. “I know every crack and crevice of that course,” Morse said. That’s because he used to train by running on it at night.
“It’s a very special course. There’s nothing like it,” Morse said, then proceeded to describe throwing up at the top of “Heartbreak Hill.” He remembers his wife, Stephanie, edging him out in the last few minutes one year, after he had been ahead the whole race and thought he had her beat.
Chip Bruce, another longtime participant, has a different type of memory: watching his daughter compete in the youth division in 1986. There’s a picture of her in the Cape Cod Times, he said, “during one of the rare moments she was actually running.”
Bruce, who “would win the walking race” if there were such a division, has participated in 10 out of the last 11 Wellfleet races. This year he is back after a bout of lymphoma caused him to miss last year’s race. “I want to see how recovered I am,” Bruce said. “I’m not out to beat anybody.”
Bruce succeeded, popping up after a minor trip just before the finish line and completing the race in 1:21.40.
It was another year for runners’ memories made on Chequessett Neck Road.