FAIRFIELD -- More than 3,000 runners from various countries and as close by as right here in Norwalk laced up their running shoes and competed in the Stratton Faxon Fairfield Road Races -- a half marathon and 5k race -- in Fairfield this past Sunday.
The hot and humid weather didn't stop boys, girls, men and women -- from teenagers to senior citizens -- from pushing themselves and traversing the streets of Fairfield in the annual event hosted by the Fairfield Fire Fighters. The races are held to raise money for non-profit groups such as the Connecticut Burns Care Foundation's camp for severely burned children. This was the 30th year of the races.
Ethiopia's Bado Worku, 20, won the 13.1 mile half marathon in a time of 1:05.49.
Among the many Norwalk residents to participate was Lauren Madaffari who is following her parents' running footsteps. Her father, Joe, who is Brien McMahon High School's athletic director, along with her mother, Eileen, both have run marathons. Madaffari, 19, ran her first half marathon with a bigger accomplishment in mind.
"I want to do a marathon now so I am trying to build up," she explained.
Madaffari, 19, attends the University Of Hawaii and plans to run a marathon there. She has been running in races in Hawaii, meaning her parents haven't had a chance to see her in action until this past Sunday.
"I was in tears. I was so excited to see her run," her father said.
"Incredible," Eileen added. "She's my girl."
Madaffari enjoyed the event but, as many participants noted, she mentioned that the course was challenging. "It was hilly. They creep up on you," she said.
The encouragement of residents who stand in front lawns, cheering for the runners, along with the work of volunteers who pass out water, go along way to making the grueling race more enjoyable.
"Everyone is so positive and everyone works together," Madaffari said.
Norwalk's Marie Vergara, 27, recently had a newborn and ran the half marathon to get back into shape as quickly as possible, she said.
"This was my goal, to get back into shape and it was cheaper than a trainer," Vergara said.
Vergara has set a goal of finishing a marathon by the time she is 30. "Even if I have to walk it," she said with a laugh.
Kate Ross, 26, and her brother, Adam Ross, 28, respectively, ran in the half marathon and 5K races. They were both appreciative of the water stations and areas where volunteers sprayed water on the runners.
"It was very motivating. Everyone was out to help -- passing out water, spraying you with their garden hoses, doing what they could to help," Kate Ross said.
For results of the race, visit www.fairfieldhalf.org.