, Salem, MA

March 1, 2013

On The Run: Running with a purpose

On The Run
Jay Kumar

---- — The North Shore Road Race Guide (NSRRG) held its first awards ceremony last week to recognize the top races in the area, as voted on by runners and the folks behind the guide, Tim Short and Doug Bollen. I had the honor of handing out some of the awards, so I had a close-up view of the event, which will be held annually.

But what really stood out was the emotional power in the stories that race directors told about why their races were held and where the funds go.

The most stirring of those came from Sharon Pacione, talking about Gabe’s Run, the cross country race held each year on the day after Thanksgiving in memory of her son, Gabriel.

At the NSRRG awards, Gabe’s Run won an Honorable Mention award for Best Trail Race, but Pacione’s heartfelt words really hit home with the event’s attendees. The race was launched in 2008 after Gabe’s death in a car accident shortly after graduating from Hamilton-Wenham High School. It raises money for Gabe’s Fund, which awards scholarships to college-bound students; Gabe was a track and cross country star and multiple-time Salem News Runner of the Year who was headed to Dartmouth College before his untimely death.

Accepting the award last week, Sharon Pacione noted that usually her husband Jeff is the one who talks about the race. Gabe’s Run—which includes a 5K, 1-mile fun run and team challenge — celebrates her son’s playful spirit and love of running, giving back to deserving student-athletes. Sharon described how the event has become an emotional homecoming of sorts for Gabe’s teammates and classmates, in addition to a fun challenge for local runners.

The Festivus 5K for Autism, held in December in Salem, won awards for Best First Year Race and an Honorable Mention for Best Race Theme. Race director Cynthia Johnson and her husband Rick described how the race was a way to raise money for the Autism Society and give back to the Salem community that rallied around them after their son was diagnosed with autism. The race drew more than 500 runners and raised $10,000 for the Autism Society. This year’s Festivus 5K is scheduled for Dec. 15.

Michaela Angelo spoke about the R11A 5K, which won an Honorable Mention for Best First Year Race. The race, held last November in Danvers, raised more than $10,000 for the Rich Angelo Athletic Scholarship fund at Malden High School in the memory of Michaela’s father, Rich. The 53-year-old Beverly triathlete and former Marine tragically drowned last August during the USA Triathlon Nationals in Burlington, Vt. The race gets its name from Rich Angelo’s initials and his favorite number, 11. The second annual R11A 5K is scheduled for Sunday, Nov. 10.

If you’re a runner or you know someone who is, you probably have been approached by a family member, friend or co-worker raising money for a charitable cause. Especially with the Boston Marathon coming up in April, many runners gain entry via 35 charity programs; the Boston Athletic Association says the charities raise more than $11 million annually. Whether it’s for a marathon or a 5K, many of these runners will have personal reasons for running, often in memory of a loved one or friend. Listen to their stories and give generously. It’s as therapeutic as running the race yourself.

Starts and stops

Another charitable race on the horizon is the Run for Troops 5K scheduled for Sunday, April 7, at 9 a.m. in Andover. The race aims to honor military personnel and benefits Homes For Our Troops, an organization that builds homes designed to accommodate injured veterans. Visit for more information.


If you’re still trying to decide which races to run this year, the North Shore YMCA has a great deal offered for the next week. You can sign up for six of the 12 events in the North Shore Road Race Series as a Series Finisher for $110 ($22 off the normal price) or as a Series Challenger for all 12 races for $220 ($44 off). The offer is only available online until March 7. Visit for the Finisher offer or for the Challenger deal. Reduced rates available for runners 13 and under; additional $5 service fee due upon registration. Visit to see the race schedule.


On the Run is a biweekly column about the North Shore running scene. Send any questions, comments, or news to

Upcoming races Saturday, March 2: The 3rd Annual Black Cat 10 & 20 Miler, Bentley School, 25 Memorial Drive, Salem, 8 a.m. The event is a good training race for spring marathoners. Contact: Ashley Steeves (BNS EVENT MANAGEMENT) at 1-978-836-0271 or email for more information. Wednesday, March 6: Danvers 5K Fun Run, Sweet William's Garden Center, 141 Pine St., Danvers, 7 p.m. Free, timed run. All welcome. These events are part of a weekly 52-race series. E-mail Thursday, March 7: No Rest for the Wicked Weekly 5K-ish, Salem Common, Salem, 6:45 p.m. Free 3.2-mile run. Contact