By Jean DePlacido
---- — BEVERLY — Every year women of all ages circle their calendars for the Louise Rossetti 5K Road Race, a living tribute to the woman that is an inspiration to so many. Rossetti loved to run this race at Lynch Park, but now as she approaches her 91st birthday, she is the official starter. Sitting in her wheelchair near the finish line, surrounded by family, she enjoyed seeing old friends. Many patted her on the shoulder or stopped to say a few words.
This year marked the 20th annual race which benefits the Suzanne Maria Rossetti Scholarship in honor of Louise’s daughter, who was killed in 1981, and the Beverly Recreation Department.
For the second straight year Layce Alves of Rockport won the race. She had a healthy lead on her training partner, Jenn Brooks of Gloucester, who was also second in 2012.
“If I could find a way to keep Layce from coming maybe I’d win,” said Brooks, who finished in 18:27 while Alves clocked in at 18:13. “I was ahead at the first mile, but then Layce took the lead. We battle each other all the time.”
Alves and Brooks are coming off an impressive race at Mt. Washington four days ago when their Team Gloucester was the first place women’s team.
“I wonder how fast we would have been if we didn’t do that race,” said Alves, who is 33 years old. Our coach Matt Curran was following us on his bike, and offering suggestions. He trains with us, and when he heard we were going to an all women’s race he wanted to come. “
Heather Rich of Hamilton was the third place finisher in 19:04. Rich has a one-year old son, and hasn’t been racing much.
“I’m happy with my time, especially since I am just getting back to racing,” she said. “I try to run when I can, but the kids keep me busy. After that first mile I let the top two go, but I was pretty much by myself so I didn’t really have to turn it on at the end. I love this race. Having an all women’s race is great, and on top of that having Louise here is even better.”
Abby Walsh, a 14-year-old from Beverly came in fourth in 19:47, handily winning her age group (14-19) ahead of Maura Feltault of Topsfield (23:43), Nora Monahan of Beverly (23:54), Jane Healy of Beverly (24:31), and Emily Feltault of Topsfield (24:39).
Baby Boot Camp featured a large group of young mothers running with their babies in carriages. They meet every Sunday night to get fit, and practiced running the course.
“Melissa Smith runs our group, and I’d say we have 25 here tonight,” said Ann McDermott of Beverly, who ran with her daughter Violet. “Most of us are from Beverly, and this is a great event.”
Race director Jill Page was pleased with both the ideal weather and the turnout.
“We have around 350 women, and this is a great night for running,” said Page. “We are thrilled to have Louise with us, too. Last year it was so hot it was hard on the runners, but we were lucky this year.”
The top 50 finishers received tee-shirts with Louise’s picture on the back, and the first five in each age group got trophies as did the top three teams. Angelo Prezzono of Gloucester (1-13), Kaitlin Crowley of Beverly (20-29), Kelly Pszenny of Danvers (40-49), Ellen Poveromo of Beverly (50-59), Jan Parkinson of Portsmouth, NH (60-69), and Wendy Burbank of Boxford (70-79) were the other age group winners.