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.
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.
“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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
contact Bethany M. Dunbar at email@example.com