Northfield Summer Road Race Series highlighting Thursday nights for 13th year

The start of the Northfield Summer Road Race Series during a past season.

The start of the Northfield Summer Road Race Series during a past season. STAFF FILE PHOTO/Paul Franz

By LUCY POSTERA

Staff Intern

Published: 06-17-2024 3:10 PM

NORTHFIELD — The Northfield Summer Road Race Series returned to Franklin County earlier this month, kicking off the weekly 3.1-mile race that runs every Thursday during June through August. The summer series enters its 13th year, and continues to be a popular event for area runners.

“It’s more of a community event,” said Bob Emberley, race founder. “People walk, we’ve had families. We’ve had as many as 50 or 60 [competitors] but usually we have about 15-25 between walkers and runners.”

Although the weekly event is a race, the route is welcome to all. Walkers are welcome, joined by competitive runners, high school track teammates and casual joggers.

“There is all speeds. Some people are really fast, some people are walking, but everyone has a good time,” said Marcy Cabanas, a consistent top finisher in the series. “You see the same faces every week and it’s a really nice community thing.”

Cabanas, a seasoned runner, comes from Greenfield each week to participate in the run. She often wins the women’s category, and was second overall last week.

Emberley said runners have come back, year after year, committing themselves to the sport.

“It goes way back,” he explained. “There was some people that just really wanted to get fit. They were really attributing their starting to walk to this race. And then we’ve had some who’ve been here 13 years, who started running here and then they become really good cross country runners. One just graduated high school one or two years ago.”

Among folders filled with newspaper clippings, race routes and 5K fliers on the registration table lies the race results from the very first Northfield Summer Road Race in 2011. Since then, Emberley has committed himself to the race and the Northfield community as it enters its 13th season.

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“We did the same course every year until this year,” Emberley said regarding the race route. “It used to be 3.3 miles now it’s a 5K (3.1 miles), so we had a course record before.”

With a new route, new course records will be met and then likely broken. The route goes through Northfield, passing the library and intertwining though town. New this year, the race begins its first year as part of the Northfield Recreation Commission Program.

After moving from New Hampshire to Northfield, Emberley said he founded the race to meet people in the area. A pastor and runner himself, he takes pride in the event, giving every participant a prize and often assigning weekly themes. ‘Write a haiku night’ and ‘run through the library’ are just two themes seen since 2011. Runners dressed in themes like red, white and blue, Christmas in July and ‘Welcome to Summer’ are met with a prize table full of items from local businesses, farm stands, and homemade cookies and treats.

“I always turn the race money back to the community,” Emberley said.

The race takes place every Thursday at 6:30 p.m. with registration starting at 6 p.m. in the back parking lot of 105 Main Street in Northfield. Registration is $5 a person and $10 a family with high schoolers free if a cross country or track team member.