They met by chance, spending their mornings working out at the YMCA. They happened to strike up a conversation about one thing or another, and before they realized it, a friendship had grown and a decade had gone by.
"Hey, I'll see you tomorrow," Charlie Lee, a Stamford woman, said to Peter Wells, a New Canaan man, as Wells left the Darien Road Race on Sept. 16. Lee, who described herself as "over 60" and Wells, whom she described as "over 70," ran the 10-kilometer race together, and the moment they crossed the finished line embraced one another in support.
"We paired together and said `let's go for it.' We ran together and really kept each other going," Lee said after the race.
The 33rd annual race took place Saturday and included more than 500 runners, according to Race Director Hank Morgan. Morgan, who has directed the race since its inception 33 years ago, said he was up at 6 a.m. to start getting ready for the day.
"It used to be a team of four people, but now it's just me," Morgan said.
Kevin Sheehan, who has run the 10k four or five times, decided this year he would run the loop, a 1.5-mile fun run, with his children, Georgia, 9, and Craig, 7. But not before Georgia and Craig both got massages from Moore Physical Therapy and Fitness, which was offering free massages at Pear Tree Point Beach.
"It was great," Georgia said.
Craig quickly echoed her thoughts, grinning.
"I loved it," Craig said.
Saturday was the second time the kids ran the loop.
"I'm really excited," Craig said. Georgia quickly added that she wanted to beat 14 minutes, which was her time in last year's road race.
The massage and physical therapists from Moore Physical Therapy and Fitness said they had a lot of children come up for a pre-race massage.
"The kids were all kind of huddled in a corner whispering `can I get one? Are these free?'" Shana Epstein, a physical therapist at Moore, said. This was the first year Moore gave massages on the beach, though it has sponsored the road race for years, according to Kristin Traunecker, physical therapist.
"We got one kid and then it was like wildfire," Jim Prior, massage therapist said with a laugh.
"I don't normally run. This is a one-time thing. Hopefully I'll come in under an hour," Edgar said.
She was standing with first-time 10k runner Sharon Kane, a Stamford woman, who shared Edgar's nerves. Kane had only started running earlier this year.
"I'm nervous and excited. When you're driving [10k] it feels like an eternity, try running it," Kane said with a laugh.
While the runners were off to the races, families were left behind to relax and enjoy some entertainment under the big tent; a large, white, open tent directly next to the finish line. Smells of grilled burgers and hot dogs filled the air, clowns painted children's faces and people played games to win prizes. Others just relaxed in the shade.
Mike McLaughlin, who was representing Norwalk Hospital and the Whittingham Cancer Center, ran the spin the wheel game, where he would ask people questions about health, cancer and preventative measures. If the question was answered correctly participants won a prize of their choice ranging from pens and calculators to surgical masks and coloring sheets.
McLaughlin thought the event was great.
"We have a good number of runners. And it's good when the money stays local to patients that are local," McLaughlin said.
Meghan McDonough and her two daughters, Kathleen, 5, and Nora, 2, were enjoying the big tent. Meghan and her husband, Michael, recently moved to the area from Brooklyn. Kathleen and Nora had both gotten their faces painted by clowns from the Health and Humor Association at Stamford Hospital representing the Bennett Cancer Center.
Kathleen said she was excited her dad to be in the race for the first time.
"She wanted to know which medal he's going to get," Meghan said, pointing to the table of prizes for the top three runners.
firstname.lastname@example.org; 203-972-4407; @megdariennews