TOWNSEND - For the past 10 years, a road race on Columbus Day weekend has involved hundreds of runners and volunteers. Held in honor of a Townsend man who was killed while jogging in Worcester, the Gregory E. Reeves Memorial Scholarship Run raises money to fund scholarships for students at North Middlesex Regional High School. Reeves was a student at Worcester Polytechnic Institute and member of the Army Reserves Officer Training Course. He was on a training run at the beginning of his sophomore year when he was struck by a car and later died.
His parents, Deb and Bill Reeves, directed the race held in their son's name. Last fall, Deb announced the end of the race. It was time for her family to move on.
When Chip Mann heard Deb's announcement he approached her right after the race and asked if she minded if he kept it going with the help of other volunteers. He ran in all 10 races and has helped organize other races.
"She gave it her blessing," Mann said.
The Reeveses agreed to help coach the new organizers. They are listed as emeritus directors on the new webpage.
"It's exciting," Deb Reeves said. "I told the family this is wonderful."
The scholarship fund gave out $105,000 over 10 years, and there is still some in the kitty to help this year's race, she said.
Deb Reeves has been to a few meetings. One of the first things she told them was they needed a committee.
"I had a lot of really wonderful volunteers that did a lot," she said.
It looks they have already done that, she said.
Mann said he does have a committee working with him and that each member is responsible for one aspect of the race. He had help from local churches in getting the organizing committee together.
"This is a great community event," said the Rev. Mark Brockmeier.
Last fall's race was one of the first events on the common that the new pastor at the Townsend Congregational Church was involved with.
Involving the churches means a large pool of volunteers, Brockmeier said. Churches might not have much money, but they do have people eager to volunteer and be involved with the community.
The leaders of all four Townsend churches got together. Each had a member that was an enthusiast of the event or a runner, Brockmeier said.
Their vision was to retain the community focus of the race and raise money for scholarships and for the Townsend Ecumenical Outreach, he said.
"When we do ecumenical things, everyone wins," he said.
The name is changed to "Greg's Run," and it will be called the 11th annual race. But participants will see little change, he said. Same course, same weekend and same activities. The Congregational Church will host the event, as it has in the past.
The race attracts elite runners, Mann said. The runner who set the course record in 2011 ran in the London Olympics the following year.
The 4.6-mile race is not a fast course and climbs a 300-foot hill in the second mile, he said.
"We felt keeping it at an odd distance was kind of good," Mann said.
The course was one of Greg Reeves' training runs.
The local community is what brought Mann back year after year and inspired him to step up and be race director.
"I was pretty overwhelmed the first year of the race," Mann said.
It was raining and when he went into the Congregational Church for a meal, he saw people he knew from all the different churches in town working.
"I said, 'Wow, this really is a community event,'" Mann said.
The community now extends beyond Townsend. Agroup of Greg's friends plans to return to town from all around the country to run in the Columbus Day weekend race, Deb Reeves said.
Around 500 people do the course with some two-thirds runners and the rest walkers, Mann said.
The organizing committee is pretty much right on schedule, Mann said. Registration is already open.
Greg's Run still needs race-day volunteers. Help is needed with registration, number pickup, timing and the kiddy race.
Registration information is on www.gregsruntownsend.com/contact. html. The cost for walkers and runners is $20. The kiddy race of 50 feet costs $5.
The race starts at 10 a.m., Oct. 10, at 5 Brookline St., adjacent to Townsend common, rain or shine. The kiddy race goes off at noon.
It's possible you will see Deb Reeves at the race.
"I might even be able to participate for the first time," she said.