By Joe Ruvido
More than 1800 runners took part in Sunday’s Ras Na hEireann 5k in Davis Square. For some, including race winners Kevin Greene and Holly Rees, the run was another competitive event on the spring racing calendar. For others it served as a healthy, athletic end to a festive St Patrick’s Day weekend.
The weather showed no signs of a turn toward spring, with wintry temperatures in the low-30s and flurries throughout the morning. Runners faced a brisk, raw headwind for the first mile as they raced up Holland Street toward Teele Square. From there they turned east along Powderhouse Boulevard before looping back in to Davis Square via the community path.
As is usually the case, the thousands of dollars in prize money for top finishers attracted fast running talent. Greene, who won the men’s race and was the first overall finisher was joined by teammate Holly Rees of Cambridge who won the women’s race. Both took home medals and $400 dollars in prize money. Rees and Green run for Battle Road Track Club, a sub-elite running club sponsored by New Balance.
The men’s race was a dead-heat until Green, using the finishing speed he’s honed on the track, powered past David Melly and Jonathan Phillips in the last 200 meters to take the win. Green ran an average pace of 4:49 per mile for a finishing time of 14:47. “We were all so close, right towards the end,” said Green, catching his breath at the finish line after the race. Asked where he’ll be spending his prize money, he smiled. “I’m not sure, I’m currently a grad assistant so this is a big payday for me.”
Though more spread out, the women’s race was no less competitive in terms of pace and time. Rees finished more than a minute ahead of runner-up Heather Mahoney of Westford and third-place finisher Nora Weathers of Cambridge. “My time was ok, it was windy, I was happy with today,” said Rees about the win. Rees’s 17:18 finishing time translates to an average pace of 5:34 per mile.
In spite of the cold and the wind, spectators dressed in green and holiday accessories lined the streets to cheer on runners. A bagpipe group in kilts played in the bus stop on Holland Street at Cameron Ave.
After the run, participants joined after-parties at bars in Davis Square to celebrate finishing the race and the St. Patrick’s Day holiday. Alderman Jack Connolly, who ran the race in addition to helping plan it, was enthusiastic about the turnout. “All of us involved with the planning and logistics involved were very pleased with a perfect running day,” remarked Connolly.
Race Director Paul Collyer was equally content with the outcome of competition and festivities. “It’s our 15th year. A lot of local sports oriented organizations are a part of it,” said Collyer. The race benefits many local youth sports organizations, including Somerville High School Track.