WESTFIELD — Run Westfield will kick off this year’s Flat Fast 5K Run and Walk at 1 p.m. Saturday, May 4.

The race starts at Westfield State University’s south parking lot and dashes down Western Avenue and Court Street to Elm Street in downtown Westfield. In addition to the race, there will be a car show near the finish line area on Elm Street, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and a fitness expo 3-7 p.m. Friday, May 3, at Blessed Sacrament Parish Hall, 127 Holyoke Rd., featuring a chance for runners to pick up their bibs and shirts, and visit various vendors on display.

The car show is something new Run Westfield is doing this year. Race director Mike Tierney said, “This year will be a broader festive event. We want to make it bigger and better each year. We’re maintaining the quality of the event and the safety of the runners, participants and the public.” He went on to say, “We hope for good weather. Right now, there are about 700 participants. We’re 100 ahead of last year, so we anticipate over 1,000.”

Run Westfield started the Flat Fast 5K Run and Walk in 2013. Tierney, a Westfield resident, was chair of the St. Patrick’s Road Race in Holyoke for 37 years and at that point thought there should be a race in downtown Westfield. He shared the idea with then-Mayor Daniel Knapik, who was all in favor of making it happen. Current Westfield Mayor Michael McCabe, who was a member of the Police Department at the time, was a charter member of the race committee and has run nearly every year since its inception.

“The race itself is truly the fastest 5K in the nation,” McCabe said. “In 2013, the winner crossed the line in 14:13, which was the fastest recorded 5K in the nation that year.” He continued, “We are trying to create an event that will promote physical fitness but also bring people into the downtown area to see what Westfield has to offer.”

Westfield Community Development Director Peter Miller has run the Flat Fast 5K in the past, but said this year he will be focused on organizing the post-race downtown block party.

“The Flat Fast 5K has become a springtime staple in downtown Westfield,” Miller said. “Since 2015, I have been pleased to serve on the committee that plans the 5Kool Down Block Party at the finish line on Elm Street. Originally started as a partnership between Run Westfield, the Westfield Business Improvement District, and the city, we saw the run as a great opportunity to welcome warmer weather and celebrate our local business community.”

This year, with the improvements that have been made to the area, a concert and family festival is planned in the new Elm Street Plaza. Vendors include the Tavern Restaurant, North Elm Butcher Block, Vlad’s Fired Pizza, Skyline Beer Company, Great Awakening Brewery, and Northside Creamery. There will also be tents and displays from several local nonprofit organizations.

“Each year this event grows by repeat participants who spread the word on a race well done and a party atmosphere that follows,” Tierney said “It becomes a homecoming for that return as well as drawing attention to downtown merchants. It is a community event that I am proud and grateful to play a part with the help of a great committee and sponsors to bring recognition to Westfield and bring people together.”

Race registrations are being taken at RunWestfield.com. Runners can create a team and raise money for their favorite charity. To start a team, runners should select the “create a team” option when registering. The first person to register will be the team captain and will be contacted with more info.

Miasha Lee
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