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MATUNUCK‚ÄĒIt‚Äôs a sad but true commentary on most memorial races.
‚ÄúWith most races for people who have passed away what happens is people stop showing up,‚ÄĚ veteran race runner Matt Pelletier said.
‚ÄúPeople have families and you can‚Äôt make it anymore, your kids have soccer practice and it kind of just trickles away as the field goes from 800 to 500, then the last year you have 100 and it just kind of fades away.‚ÄĚ
Rest assured though, the Run4Kerri does not appear to be going anywhere.
‚ÄúThis race is not,‚ÄĚ Pelletier said. ‚ÄúIt just keeps getting bigger and bigger. I don‚Äôt see this race going anywhere. I really feel that this race is going to be around for awhile and it‚Äôs a good thing because this is a great race.‚ÄĚ
The Run4Kerri started after the tragic passing of Kerri Bessette in 2001 while she was just a freshman in college.
A graduate of South Kingstown High School, Bessette had a passion for cross country and track and field, so after her passing her family set up the Run4Kerri.
‚ÄúOne thing we were lucky to have in our community is so many great volunteers and supporters,‚ÄĚ Kerri‚Äôs brother, Scott said Sunday.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs just good to keep her memory alive here. Most memorial races last a few years and we try to keep a top notch race here going with just friends and family and new people learning about my sister and the cause or the race.
‚Äú‚Ä¶We‚Äôre happy to still do it because people still ask us if it‚Äôs the end or when will be the end and there‚Äôs no end in sight. I‚Äôm 33 and I keep hoping to do it until the end of my life and keep pushing the memory and the scholarships.‚ÄĚ
The race ‚Äď which had its 12th installment Sunday morning in Matunuck ‚Äď has evolved into more than just another memorial competition; it‚Äôs one of South County‚Äôs premier events.
‚ÄúI would never miss this race,‚ÄĚ Pelletier said. ‚ÄúIf I moved away, I would fly back for this race and that‚Äôs shown in a lot of people who are here.
‚ÄúWe set up our vacations around this race. I‚Äôm getting married next summer and she‚Äôs like, ‚Äėwhat do you think about the beginning of August?‚Äô I‚Äôm like, ‚ÄėRun4Kerri, can‚Äôt do it.‚Äô‚ÄĚ
As one of the premier runners in New England, Pelletier knows when he sees elite level competition and over the past few years the field at the Run4Kerri has only grown stronger.
‚ÄúThere was a time when I could come to this race and expect to win,‚ÄĚ Pelletier said. ‚ÄúNow that [Kerri‚Äôs brother Scott] has put some good prize money up I show up here and before the race started I said I hope to get top 10. There‚Äôs a quality field here.‚ÄĚ
Chris Zablocki of Essex, Conn, won the four-mile race with a time of 19:18 and at first it appeared as if he had shattered the course record after he turned in a sub-19 minute time.
As it would turn out though, the lead car had taken Zablocki on an incorrect rout for part of the race but after recalculating his time the Dartmouth College grad was still awarded the win by race officials.
‚ÄúA little bit after the three mile mark the [lead] car said something about a right, so apparently what they said was, ‚Äėyou took a wrong turn but we‚Äôre going to make it right,‚Äô‚ÄĚ Zablocki said.
‚ÄúI just heard, ‚Äėyou‚Äôre going to make a right.‚Äô They got to a tee, the car went left and I went right and they started yelling at me that I was making a wrong turn. I turned around and kept following the car.‚ÄĚ
Last week‚Äôs Blessing of the Fleet winner, Sam Alexander, was second with a time of 19:31, while Pelletier was the first Rhode Islander across the line with third with a time of 19:37.
‚ÄúSam Alexander‚Äôs a speedster, there‚Äôs no way I could cover his moves,‚ÄĚ Pelletier said. ‚ÄúZablocki just had more speed than I do. I was actually surprised I finished as high up as I did.‚ÄĚ
Julie Culley of Clinton, N.J. was the top female finisher with a time of 22:24, while Providence‚Äôs Diana Davis was the first female Rhode Islander to finish in third with a time of 23:51.