Meriden Rotary Road 5K Road Race Wrap Up
By John Pettit, Special to the Record-Journal
MERIDEN — Wallingford’s Liz Fengler made it a three-peat Sunday morning at Hubbard Park.
The former Sheehan All-State runner was the first female to cross the finish line for the third straight year, capturing the 18th annual Rotary Club of Meriden Daffodil 5K Road Race/Walk and Kids Fun Run.
“The course is a little hilly going out, but coming back you feel stronger because you’ve already conquered some of the larger hills,” said Fengler, who clocked in at 20.29.2. “I was hoping to win. I do a lot of races every year, maybe around 10 to 12. It was definitely runners’ weather. The sun was out and I liked the cooler temperatures.”
Race director and Rotary Club member Peter Wnek said about 50 children registered for the ½-mile run and the chance to win one of four new bicycles in the post-race raffle. Bikes went to Luke Frommelt, Josiah Bourdon, Spencer Boada and Jillian Pietrantonio.
Brent Lujan of Midland, Texas was one of the youngest runners in the kids’ race. The 3-year-old ran with his aunt, Laura Hernandez, a Meriden resident and member of the Connecticut Army National Guard, whom he was visiting.
“This is my first time meeting him,” Hernandez said. “This is his first race. He’s been practicing.”
When the children were finished, it was the adults’ turn to tackle the 5K course, which started and ended in the Hubbard Park parking lot and covered the rolling hills to the north corner of the park’s reservoir and back.
Wnek said 150 people registered for the 5K. New Haven’s Steve Allen was first overall, winning with a time of 17:49.2.
Allen, who is originally from Astoria, Oregon and ran collegiately at the University of Pacific, recently moved to Connecticut for his job as camp recruiter at the Hole in the Wall Gang camp in Ashford.
“It was a beautiful course,” Allen said. “I’ve never been to Hubbard Park. There were geese in the water and the hills were gradual. I would love to come back for other races here. I was hoping to finish in under 18 minutes. I’m nursing back from a (hip) injury from college, so I’m surprised to win it and quite pleased.”
Allen dethroned Meriden’s Derek Destefano, who was third in 18:18.2.
Proceeds from Sunday’s race will go to all the causes and organizations that the Meriden Rotary Club supports.
“The race is popular because it’s done in conjunction with the Daffodil Festival,” said Ty Bongiovanni, president of the Rotary Club. “There’s a lot of positive energy around that. Also, it’s tradition at this point. It happens every year at this time and the participants know the money that is raised is going back into the community. I think the people who are loyal to it are loyal for those reasons.”
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