Dandelion Run was in memory of Terri Weed

The Bag Ladies of Newfane and Townsend warmed up for their race.  They are:  Sandy Stark, Melanie Keiser, Penelope Monaney, Kimberly McCormack, and Kim Colligan.  Photo by Bethany M. Dunbar

The Bag Ladies of Newfane and Townsend warmed up for their race. They are: Sandy Stark, Melanie Keiser, Penelope Monaney, Kimberly McCormack, and Kim Colligan. Photo by Bethany M. Dunbar

copyright the Chronicle 5-21-2014

by Bethany M. Dunbar

DERBY — Pouring rain early Saturday morning let off in time for a few hundred runners to take to the roadsides at 9 a.m. in the sixth annual Dandelion Run.

One relay team was ready for the rain with a kind of team uniform — garbage bags with holes for heads and arms. The ladies called themselves the Bag Ladies of Newfane and did a dry dance to scare the rain away.  Valerie Dillon manned the staff parking area fully equipped with head-to-toe rain gear, a fisherman-type hat, and an umbrella.

The run this year was in honor and memory of Terri Weed, a young woman who was killed on May 21, 1981. She was 15 years old and pregnant when her boyfriend, Wade Willis, killed her.

Beg, Borrow, or Steal is, left to right, Jeremy Sicely on guitar, Fran Forim on base, Geoff Goodhue on the mandolin, and Luke Auriemmo on banjo.

Beg, Borrow, or Steal is, left to right, Jeremy Sicely on guitar, Fran Forim on base, Geoff Goodhue on the mandolin, and Luke Auriemmo on banjo.

Phil White, the organizer of the race, was new to the area at that time. He had just been appointed as the county’s prosecutor.

“I had been out jogging on the dirt roads of Barton Mountain that afternoon when I got the call from the State Police,” wrote Mr. White in an explanation of the dedication on the Dandelion Run’s website.

Valerie Dillon manned the staff parking lot and was ready for anything.

Valerie Dillon manned the staff parking lot and was ready for anything.

“They described what had happened, and I set out to Morgan to view the scene and release Terri’s body to the medical examiner.

“The sky was brilliant blue, the air was crisp and cool. The sun was warm on my face. And, as I drove out on Route 111, I was struck by the beauty of the dandelion fields of Morgan. I had never seen them before. The fields are on hills that overlook and come down to the road. In my heightened state (knowing what I was heading to), I felt like I was driving through the dandelions. The dandelion fields were one of the most beautiful bits of countryside I had ever seen.”

Greg and Ann Starr of Westfield crossed the finish line holding hands.

Greg and Ann Starr of Westfield crossed the finish line holding hands.

Mr. White was deeply affected by the case and has wanted to dedicate a race to Terri Weed’s memory for a number of years. Part of the proceeds of the Dandelion Run will go to Umbrella, an organization that helps victims of domestic violence.

A number of distance options were available to runners. Some did a half marathon, which is about 13 miles. Some did ten kilometers, which is a little more than six miles, and some did five-kilometer sections in a relay. Children had options for shorter distances, and a number of school teams participated.

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The Turning Points School team shows its enthusiasm just before the Dandelion Run on Saturday. In the front row, from left to right, are Brentton Lamos, Greg Smith (hand in the air), Will Lowell Jr., Daniel Thomas, team captain Alex Rich, Kahlie McKinley, Curtis Swisser, Makenna Bernier (in stroller), Michaela Field, Brady Boivin, Jeremy Valley, and Cameron Boivin. In the back row, from left, are Rick Geisel, Will Lowell Sr., James McKinney, Dakota Stone, Shannon Kane, Lauren Collier, Kiki Matly, Beth Brooks, Tammy Westover, Sheldon Hurd, and Neila Decelles. Missing from the photo are Jordyn Potvin, Julie Young and Andrew Medley. Photo by Bethany M. Dunbar

One of the largest and most enthusiastic teams was from Turning Points School in Newport. Student co-captains Alex Rich and Jeremy Valley said they like to run because it’s fun.

“It’s a good way to get out into our community and show our support for Turning Points,” added Alex. He said he likes his school because his teachers really care about the kids.

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Kathy and Lisa Wehnes.

Mother and daughter team Kathy and Lisa Wehnes were running their sixth race in six days.

“We’re doing one in every state, and this is number 21,” said Kathy Wehnes, who lives in Illinois. Her daughter is from Denver, Colorado.

Misha Zvonar ran a leg as part of a relay team with her husband, Zoran Zvonar. She said they live in Boston, Massachusetts, but spend a lot of time at Jay Peak in the winter.

“And then this business happens when the snow melts. We don’t know what to do,” she said with a laugh.

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Misha Zvonar holds up a bowl of fiddleheads she picked after running a relay leg in the Dandelion Run. The dandelions were a bit behind schedule for the race, but this other popular wild plant was obligingly ready to be picked.

Relay team names included such classics as Dirty Hippies, Wall Street Whales, Too Cool for School, Brighton Bearcats and the Newport Dandies.

Runners were treated to high quality bluegrass music during water breaks and after the race as well. Beg Steal or Borrow, Reckless Breakfast, Bob Amos, and FireSteel were among the groups and musicians.

Just after crossing the finish line, runners were checking their times to see how they did in comparison to personal goals.

“This is a big comeback for me,” said Matt Dickstein of East Hardwick. He had been injured and had not been able to run for a while.

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Sandy Superchi.

“It was awesome, a gorgeous course,” said Sandy Superchi who drove up from Massachusetts to run. “All because of Phil. I came because of him,” she added.

Mr. White, formerly the executive director of IROC, has continued his efforts to organize athletic competitions in the area even after IROC’s demise. These include the Tour de Kingdom bike race and Kingdom Swim.

Chip Pierce of Newport was the winner of the half marathon at one hour, 27 minutes and 13 seconds. The first female was Janelle Ralph of Gold Hill, Oregon, in one hour, 39 minutes and 13 seconds.

Brady Vigario came close to shattering his two-hour time from last year for a half marathon.

Brady Vigario came close to shattering his two-hour time from last year for a half marathon.

contact Bethany M. Dunbar at bethany@bartonchronicle.com

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