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Jeff Coombs Memorial Road Race


This morning was a rather overcast and dreary morning but the positive energy coming out of the little town of Abington, Massachusetts was enough to make the day so much brighter. When Jeff Coombs died in the terrorist attacks of September 11th, his wife Christie Coombs decided to honor his memory by starting a foundation in his name and hosting, amongst other events, an annual road race to raise funds for the Jeffrey Coombs Memorial Foundation.

At today’s race were several others impacted by the terrorist attacks against our nation both on September 11th, at the Boston Marathon bombing and defending our freedom across the globe. Notably, Carlos Arrendondo and Bill Richard, father of 8 year old Martin Richard who was killed at the Boston Marathon were present at today’s race and added an emotional element to the run.

Runners were presented with the option of wearing a sticker in memory of someone who lost their life in the terrorist attacks of September 11th or who died in either Afghanistan or Iraq. Given my connection to the Ace Bailey Children’s Foundation, I opted to run with Ace’s name on my race bib.

Not a dry eye was at the kickoff of run when 5 year-old Colin Van de Giesen took to the microphone to sign the Star Spangled Banner before the run. Colin’s father Kyle was killed in Iraq two weeks before Colin was born and Colin learned to sing the national anthem when listening to a patriotic CD each night before bed. When Colin finished up his singing of the national anthem, a thunderous round of applause rushed across the crowd that was speechless and quiet when first hearing of Colin’s story and then listening to each flawless note.

The race kicked off first with some US Army soldiers with complete ruck sacks hitting the 3.1 mile course. After they made their way onto the course, it was the the runners’ turn followed by a healthy contingent of walkers out to support this great cause. The race starts with a nice, gradual downhill first mile which means just one thing: a rather gradual uphill second mile. Two water stops are on the course just past miles one and two and the third mile into the finish line is a rather smoothed out flat course. A huge showing for this annual race and the energy each year just gets better and better. The emotion the race brings coupled with the great course and noble cause supported makes this race one that all runners should try to check out at some point.

This year I finished the Jeff Coombs Memorial Road Race with a time of 22:39, good for 7:17/miles; a few seconds per mile slower than last year’s run but still a pretty nice time out on the course.

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