Running for a good cause in Lynn

The start of the first heat of the 10-mile Relay at Lynn Woods. (Item Photo by Owen O'Rourke)

LYNN — Putting together the annual 10-mile Relay at Lynn woods can be a bit chaotic according to event organizer Bill Mullen but it’s alway worth it.

“It’s definitely a little chaotic but I always tell people, any of the volunteers or myself wouldn’t do it if we didn’t love doing it,” Mullen said. “You see a lot of people having a good time at this race. Many teams after the relay will go off to Prince Pizzeria or Polcari’s and have team festivities later on. There is always a great energy here.”

Wednesday was the 48th year for the 10-mile Relay that takes place at Lynn Woods. Rain early in the day looked like it might reschedule the race, but by the time the 6 p.m. start time rolled around conditions were great for the runners.

“The weather has turned wonderful,” Mullen said. “We were here in the downpour earlier and were a little concerned but it looks great.”

Around 90 teams, made up of four runners each, competed with each member running a loop in the woods 2.5 miles long.

Teams were split into 13 divisions including men’s and women’s open, men’s and women’s masters (ages 40-49), men’s and women’s seniors (ages 50-59), men’s veterans (age 60-69), men’s super veterans (ages 70 and up), women’s veterans (ages 60 and up) and co-ed (two male and two female runners).

“There’s action all the time,” Mullen said. “In a typical road race people go off and then they come back. Once those races start you don’t see your teammates. Today you’re here rooting for teammates.

“There is always a situation where you want to catch the runner ahead of you and you don’t want the runner behind you to make up time, you want to be competitive,” Mullen added. “Folks will run a little more aggressively than they usually do because of the relay and representing their team.”

The race was originally established by Joe Abelon, who still helps with the race, in 1971. The 10-Mile Relay was originally for high school and college runners, but has grown to include club runners, adults and more women runners over the years.

“Between my coaching at St. Mary’s I wanted to do something in the summer,” Abelon said. “We still use part of the original course, the first course ever used to run a road race here. It’s a fun thing I never would have expected it to become this.”

The many hills on the course throughout the race posed a worthy challenge for each runner throughout the night.

“The Lynn Woods is a very hilly environment,” Abelon said. “There’s always ups and downs, it’s not a road race course it’s a cross country course, so for the average or even any runner its a challenge but it’s a fun one to run.

“It’s difficult,” Mullen added. “This, for a lot of people, was their first time this year at all running on a hilly, rocky and at some points single track race. Generally the woods shed the water pretty well, but there may have been a few puddles. As a kid you love to splash in puddles and as an adult people got the opportunity to do that as well today.”

As well as providing a challenging race, the relay has also helped raise money for the Multiple Sclerosis Society over the years, a cause that Mullen has a personal link to.

“It’s personal for me,” Mullen said. “My mother-in-law had MS, other family members have had it and at least one person I know here has MS.

“Over the years we’ve been counting we have been able to raise $11,000 through the relay,” Mullen added. “It’s not all about the charity but we try to do some good with the races we have.”

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