FAIRFIELD, Conn. – Luke and Max Laferriere represent what the Bigelow Tea Community Challenge is all about. The 8-year-old twin brothers from Southport were among the runners and walkers who participated in Sunday’s 25th edition of the race.
Luke and Max, who celebrated their birthdays on Saturday, ran in the one-mile kids race at the Wakeman Boys and Girls Club. Their parents, Kelly and Richard, ran in the 5k. There were 568 finishers in the 5k. There were also two other races for children and a two-mile fitness walk. In all, nearly 1,000 participated in one of the events.
The brothers, who are also hockey and soccer players, were representative of the many families who participated. They made the most of it, too, with Luke winning the one-mile race followed closely by Max.
“We’ve run two 5ks with our parents,” Luke said. “This was fun.”
Kelly Laferriere said this was the first year the family participated in the race. “It’s an awesome community event,” she said. “It’s so well-organized. We’re excited to see such a large turnout for the race.”
Besides families, the race attracts corporate teams, and high school and college athletes. The Weston High School field hockey team had its players run in the race, while the Sacred Heart University track and field team served as volunteers.
Cindi Bigelow, the president of the tea company that bears her family name, started the race in Norwalk in 1987 in Norwalk and has watched it grow to become of the community’s most enduring events.
“I don’t know if we ever expected anything like this when we started,” Bigelow said. “The first year we had 50 people and raised $3,000. We just tried to run it like we run our business, and do everything the best we can. We have a great group of volunteers and sponsors that make it work year after year.”
Brendan Rickert, 24, won a tight dual over John Mass, 40, of Old Greenwich. Rickert held off Mass in 16:42.7, while Maas finished in 16:45. Christopher Barrett of Fairfield took third in 17:00.
Mary Palmer, a graduate student at Yale University, won the women’s race in 18:34.7. She held off a challenge from Wilton’s Mary Zengo, who ran 18:38.7. Colleen Beirne of Milford finished third among women in 20:29.2. Complete results are available online.
The big winners, however, are the 16 charities based in Fairfield and Bridgeport that benefit from the race. Last year, more than $100,000 was distributed to charities.
“It has really become a big part of the community,” Bigelow said. “It’s something the people really love.”