By Gianna Addario
---- — In each of the past five years, runners and supporters from Hamilton, across the North Shore and beyond have taken part in the day-after Thanksgiving road race known as Gabe’s Run.
Tomorrow’s sixth annual event, billed as the “Reunion Run,” promises to be no different.
The race, set up to honor and celebrate the life of former Hamilton-Wenham running star Gabriel Pacione, whose life was tragically cut short in the summer of 2008, just days before he was set to begin college at Dartmouth, will be held at Patton Park in Hamilton.
Hundreds of runners have already signed up for the women’s and men’s 5K races as well as a one-mile fun run. The women’s 5K race begins the festivities at 9 a.m., followed by the men’s race at 9:45 a.m., the one-mile fun run at 10:30 a.m. and the awards and prizes being awarded at 11 a.m.
”There are going to be a few surprises at the end of the fun run,” said Jeff Pacione, Gabe’s father. “I’m not going to say what they are, but we decided to pump up the volume at the finish line. It’ll be very exciting as the runners are coming in.
”About 675 runners have already pre-registered. We’re on track and the race has steadily grown each year. A lot of people come out for the event, but some others travel for the holiday. If the weather’s good we usually get a good turnout. We expect another good crowd this (tomorrow).”
All proceeds go to Gabe’s Fund, which awards two scholarships annually: one to a college-bound senior from Hamilton-Wenham and the other to a member of a Cape Ann League school. The students selected encourage and inspire others the way Gabe did and also strive to attain high accomplishments.
Gabe’s Fund acknowledges students who stretch themselves, reach for higher levels of accomplishment and share the success of their achievements by encouraging and inspiring others.
Last year the Gabriel Pacione Cape Ann League Scholarship was awarded to Ipswich’s Sarah Kieran.
“I was very honored to be the recipient,” said Kieran, who has had an outstanding freshman season running cross country for the University of New Hampshire. Her Wildcats won the America East Conference Championship and finished ninth at the NCAA Regional Meet.
“I was very touched and right when I heard my name, tears filled my eyes,” continued Kieran. “It was very emotional and special at the same time because Claire (Gabe’s sister) announced the winner and she’s one of my closest friends.
“I think that what the family does to honor Gabe is just simply amazing. They have turned Gabe’s Run into something people look forward to all year, and it’s such a great cause and a very fun day to celebrate Gabe.”
Claire Pacione was the recipient of The Gabriel Pacione Memorial Scholarship. “It was a huge surprise,” noted Jeff Pacione. “We were very proud that she was nominated.”
Claire will take part in the run for the first time tomorrow. In the past she’s had high school meets the following day, but this year she plans on running it. Kienan, who’s run the race the past three years, will also take part in tomorrow’s festivities.
“I know I’m very excited for that run. I absolutely love it — and the atmosphere at the race is amazing,” said Kieran.
A couple of other new features for Friday’s event will be a photo booth set up so people can get their pictures taken before or after the race, and the Flatbread Company out of Amesbury will also be there as one the vendors. They join Woodman’s of Essex, which always supplies the clam chowder for the spectators and runners.
Registration will take place in the park itself tomorrow, with a big tent set up for registrants. It the past it’s been set up in the Winthrop School, but that has changed.
”We’re very excited the people sign up for the race every year,” added Pacione. “We’re very pleased that there’s so much interest.”
IF YOU GO What: Sixth annual Gabe's Run When: Tomorrow Where: Starts and ends at Patton Park in Hamilton What's available: Women's (9 a.m.) and men's (9:45 a.m.) 5K cross country races and a one-mile fun run (10:30 a.m.) Cost: $25 for the 5K; $15 for the fun run (pre-registration) What does it benefit?: Gabriel Pacione Memorial Scholarship Fund and Gabriel Pacione Cape Ann League Scholarship Fund.