By Christopher Roberson
Under the scorching July sun, 333 runners lined up in front of Town Hall to participate in the 51st Annual Fourth of July 5K Road Race.
Shawn Wallace, 37, of Waltham, won the event with a time of 16 minutes, 44 seconds, beating second-place finisher Daniel O’Flynn, 24, of Ipswich, by 14 seconds. In addition to his first-place finish, Wallace was also pushing his one-year-old son, Brennen, in a 25-pound stroller.
From the fleet of Lynnfield runners, Nathan Lopez, 13, emerged with the best time of 17 minutes, 52 seconds and finished in fourth place overall.
Kelly Carter, 41, of Windham, N.H., recorded the best women’s time of 20 minutes, 25 seconds and finished in 15th place overall.
There were also 15 students from Lynnfield High School who took part in the race. Within that group, Joseph Fabrizio, 17, easily took first place with a time of 20 minutes, 53 seconds. David Blake, also 17, finished in second place with a time of 22 minutes flat.
The course took runners from Summer Street to Walnut Street to Thomas Road and back onto Summer Street before returning to Town Hall.
“It was a beautiful day to run,” said first-time runner Matthew Uzenski, 36, of Wakefield.
Although there was a small incline at the halfway point, Uzenski said, the last half-mile was downhill. “It was a nice way to finish it,” he said.
John Brzezenski, 49, of Reading, said there were a couple of hills that presented a “moderate challenge.” However, Brzezenski said he still enjoyed running in the race for the first time.
Another first-time participant, Matthew Pagos, 32, of Lynnfield, said the course was “fairly easy.” He also appreciated those residents who greeted the runners with garden hoses along the way. “That was refreshing, it was nice that they came out,” said Pagos.
This was also the first year for Christian Sullivan, 34, of Lynnfield, and his wife, Christine. “It was really cool; we just moved here a year ago,” said Christian.
Despite the heat, Logistics Coordinator Susie Cleary said, the event still went off without a hitch. “Even with the elevated temperatures, people came out in support,” she said, adding that the number of runners had increased by approximately 30 percent compared to last year. “The heat created no significant problem, just sweaty runners.”
However, nothing was left to chance. “A line of communication was set up between the water stops and the start and finish area to alert of any potential problems with overheated runners,” said Cleary.
Race Organizer Andrea Bracconier said the race has been manually timed since it began in 1967, which she said “adds to the excitement.”
“It is a success because of the great volunteers that keep it moving,” said Bracconier. “For the past 51 years, the town comes out and joins in the fun, whether running, volunteering or cheering runners on.”