WESTPORT, Conn. Organizers of Saturday's Westport Road Runners Series race thought they might get a bigger than average crowd. "There was nothing else on the race calendar in the area," said Laddie Lawrence, who has directed the annual summer running rite for 46 years.
When the last runner crossed the line, Lawrence looked at the number of tongue depressors he had handed out as finishing place sticks: The total was 189, the largest in the 49-year history of the series. It eclipsed the old mark of 171, set 31 years ago during the first "running boom" after the success of Americans Frank Shorter and Bill Rodgers on the international stage.
The winner of Saturday's race, Matt Klein of Trumbull, wasn't alive when the old mark was set. The 17-year-old turned in one of the faster times recorded on the seaside course that started and finished at Longshore Country Club, covering the 3.8 miles in 19:39. Two Westporters, Luke McCambley and John Foster, came in right behind Klein. McCambley came closest at 19:55. "Matt's in great shape, and he really goes out hard," said Foster, who tried to stay with Klein for the first mile but paid the price in the second half of the race, falling back to finish in 21:21.
Liz Herbert had just returned to Darien from visiting her family in Michigan but didn't show any effects of the travel, winning easily in 24:07 and 13th overall, more than a minute ahead of women's runner-up Brooke Garden of Greenwich. "My time was a little slower than last year [when she placed second to Amy Fredericks] but I didn't have Amy to push me this year."
The race was the third in the 10-race series, which progresses in distance from one week to the next. The series continues next Saturday with a 4.1-mile race from Compo Beach. Complete results from all races and information on the rest of the series is available at the Road Runners website .
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