RIDGEFIELD, Conn. – The Ridgefield Pamby Motors Half Marathon has become a fall staple for many runners training for fall marathons. Sunday’s race will be the 36th edition of the race, beginning at 8:30 a.m. at Yanity Gym on East Ridge Road.
When the race started in 1977, it also included a marathon. But the marathon fell out of favor with runners fairly quickly, said club President Rick Favier, one of the original members of the Wolfpit Running Club and co-race director with John Dugdale for nearly 30 years.
“We began by putting on a full marathon with the option for a half marathon,’’ Favier said. “At the end of 1982, we had more people showing up for the half marathon. Beginning in 1983, we switched to just the half. It seemed like no one wanted to run 26 miles.”
The race has stayed steady over the years, with nearly 600 runners registered for each of the past 10 years. Marathoners training for the Marine Corps Marathon in October or the New York City or Philadelphia Marathons in November flock to Ridgefield to gauge fitness. “Some of the runners will run 2 or 3 miles before or after to get their training in,’’ Favier said.
The race is conducted by the Wolfpit Running Club, a group that organizes weekly walks and runs in Ridgefield. It has about 100 members, and Wolfpit has been providing scholarships to Ridgefield students since 1984. Last year’s recipients, Ben O’Regan and Jen Ventrilla, were awarded $1,000 each. It also supports various community charitable organizations.
“The fact that we’re community-minded keeps a lot of older members in the club. They enjoy being a part of it,’’ Favier said. “Every year we’re able to give away $4,000 to $5,000.”
Winners get small cash awards, with a bonus for course records. Aptly-named Steve Swift set the course record in 1997 at 1:06:47, while Sue Farber’s time of 1:18:10 is the women’s standard. Dugdale holds the men’s 40- to 49-year-old record of 1:11.25, set in 1984, and 50- to 59-year-old record, 1:14:55, set in 1987.
There were 474 finishers last year, led by New Fairfield’s Geoff Nelson in 1:12:05 and Wilton’s Mary Zengo in 1:29:24.