FAIRFIELD, Conn. – Westport’s Tom Harding has run the Bigelow Tea 5-kilometer race in Fairfield many times since it started 25 years ago and has seen a smorgasbord of results, weather and courses.
“It’s one I always put on my list,’’ said Harding, who will stand on the starting line Sunday at the Wakeman Boys & Girls Club for the race’s silver anniversary. “I’ve run it in good weather, in bad weather, have had some good finishes and some that weren’t so good. It’s close to home, which is always good, too.”
More than 1,000 participants are expected for Sunday’s race, which includes a kids fun run and a fitness walk. The race raised more than $100,000 last year for 16 charities, which include the Burroughs Community Center, Cardinal Shehan Center, Wakeman Club, Janus House and Connecticut Food Bank. The racing begins at 9 a.m.
Part of the race's success can be directly attributed to Bigelow Tea President Cindi Bigelow, who ran the first race on her wedding day in 1987. “Cindi has been a big part in it since it started,’’ Harding said. “Just having her there gives a good feeling to the place.”
Harding has won the race multiple times and remembers one duel with Mike Slinskey of New York that came down to the final strides. “It was so many years ago, I don’t even remember which year it was,’’ Harding said. “We had a half-mile to go, and we were running together. I outkicked him at the end, which was surprising, because I didn’t think I could do that.”
Runners can register online in advance or on Saturday at the Fairfield YMCA. Race day registration will also be available. Runners will be eligible for raffle prizes, including air travel to anywhere in the United States. A silent auction for memorabilia autographed by players on the New York Yankees will be held. Participants are also encouraged to bring canned goods to donate to food banks. More information and registration details are available on the Bigelow Tea website.