by MARGARET WAAGE
Runners are a dedicated group.
They show up for races in all kinds of weather because when they say they’re going to run, they do.
Often the reasons for running may be to improve health through the exercise but frequently people sign up to run because they can relate to the cause that’s associated with the event.
Such is the case for the GE Petit Family Foundation Road Race.
For anyone living in Connecticut, the Petit story is one many won’t forget.
The Petit Family Foundation was formed to honor the memories of Jennifer Hawke–Petit, Hayley Elizabeth Petit and Michaela Rose Petit, who were killed in a home invasion. The Foundation seeks to continue many acts of kindness these women demonstrated in their lives. Additionally, the foundation promotes educational opportunities for young people especially women in the sciences, to improve the lives of those affected by chronic illnesses and to support efforts to protect and help those affected by violence.
For its fifth year the GE 5K Petit Family Foundation Road Race in Plainville has seen the number of participants grow. The course is flat and in spite of the typical July humidity and warm temperature, the 5K can be a great morning workout. Turnout has grown each year exceeding expectations.
Last year 2,103 runners completed the course, up 18% from the previous year’s total of 1,769 participants, according to Platt Systems, the provider of electronic timing services for the road race. The 2012 number of participants increased 27% from 2011, with a total of 2,662 participants listed through Active.com, the online registration for the race.
The figures reflect registrants that signed on through noon Friday, July 13. The actual numbers of participants can be more due to on site registration.
For 2008 and 2009 turnout was 1,399 and 1,386, respectively.
The founders of the GE 5K Petit Family Foundation Road Race are two brothers, Robert and Gary Heslin, who were classmates of Dr. William Petit, Jr. in the Plainville High School class of 1974, where all three ran track and field and cross-country.
Right before the race kicked off at 9 a.m., Dr. Petit, spoke to the crowd. “Thank you for coming out today. Most people are good and want to do good things. Your being here is a way to reach out and do something for us, and for the community in general,” said Dr. Petit.
One of the benefits of running this race is that anyone can say hello to Petit. He can be seen hugging friends and greeting children.
Petit has run the course every year previously, but this year Petit walked the distance instead of running. Last month, a repair of a torn medial meniscus in the right knee has Petit still on the mend.
“The GE 5K Petit Family Foundation Race and Family Walk has been our biggest fund raiser and largest comunity event. Bob and Gary Heslin do a wonderful job in making it a well-run race and the race committee and GE have been outstanding in their support of the event,” said Petit.
Petit reported, “This year, we have made grants totaling over a quarter million dollars. We have also made our first Signature six-figure grant to the Channel 3 Kids Camp to put up a new medical building. We hope to increase the amount of money we grant each year.”
“This is my first time running this 5K,” said Lisa Hotchkin of Windsor Locks. “I wanted to come last year but I’m in better shape now.”
For many runners, the race represents a chaance to do somethng good for The Petit Family Foundation and for themselves through the challenge.
For non-runner, Kathy Machuga, coming out to the GE 5K Petit Foundation Road Race was simply a way to show support for Dr. Petit.
“I was his patient for many years and he helped me to get this scooter,” said Machuga. “While I can’t run due to back pain, I am mobile today becase of Dr. Petit and I can still ride.”