Daffodil 5K: City Native Returns Home to Conquer the Hills of Hubbard
The weather couldn’t have been nicer for Meriden’s annual Daffodil 5k at Hubbard Park on Sunday morning. The running was pretty sweet, as well.
The sun was shining and, although there was a brisk breeze in the air, it still made for a beautiful day for the runners.
Best in the field were Matthew Wong and Liz Fengler. Wong, a Meriden native who now lives in Brooklyn, was first across the line in 17:53. Fengler, a 2014 Sheehan High grad who still lives in Wallingford, was the women’s champ in 19:27.
This is the 19th year Meriden has held the race ahead of the Daffodil Festival. The 5K is sponsored by the Meriden Rotary Club and the proceeds go to several causes and charities.
This year, the event drew close to 200 participants in the race.
“The turnout was the best we’ve had,” said Daffodil 5K race director Peter Wnek. “It’s such a beautiful day and this year we did more promoting. We’re also now USTF certified and I think all those things played a part in increased participation.”
Wong’s motivation for coming back to his home city and running the race? He wanted to complete in a 5K here before the age of 40.
“It’s hilly and I wasn’t exactly sure where the turnaround was,” said Wong. “Some of the guys went out really fast and I just wanted to keep up with them through the first mile and see how things went from there.”
Wong said he used to be able to run a 5K in under 17 minutes when he was younger. In recent years, Wong’s best time has been 17:15.
Wong also hasn’t ruled out doing more races in Meriden in the future.
“I know there’s a one-mile race on Memorial Day weekend and I’d definitely come to this one again.” said Wong.
Fengler, a regular face in area road races, ran cross country throughout high school. Like Wong, Fengler said the course’s hills were a challenge.
“I was trying to get better at conquering those hills,” said Fengler. “The entire first mile is going uphill and, by the time you get to the turnaround, it’s all downhill from there. It’s a matter of getting up there at a decent pace and then being able to get back.”
This isn’t the first time Fengler has run the Daffodil 5K. Her personal best time on this course came a couple of years ago, when she finished in 19:25.
If able to register in time, Fengler plans to compete in next Sunday’s races in Cheshire. Beyond that, Fengler has broader plans.
“I would like to run in all 169 towns in Connecticut; I’d love to see if I could hit all of those,”she said. “To do that, I’d need to run one race in each town, and it doesn’t have to be a specific distance. Once you in all 169, you get a certificate or something for it.”
So far, Fengler has run races in about 20 different towns.
Meanwhile, in Meriden, the Daffodil 5K will remain a fixture for Fengler and anyone else who wants to tackle the hills of Hubbard Park in April with the daffodils in bloom.
“We’re going to continue to grow it,” said Wnek. “We’re going to do more advertising and promotion that it is a charity function. This event really produces a lot that goes towards funding projects within the community.”
Written by Ryan Conchado, Special to the Record-Journal
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