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Running with the Wild Things

Ridgefield runners enjoyed the trails of the Woodcock Nature Center during the 'Where the Wild Things Run' 5K race on Sunday.

When Woodcock Nature Center executive director Henryk Teraszkiewicz stopped promoting his center to save a frog in the middle of an interview, he legitimized his whole business without saying a word.

Said frog was unwittingly hopping around near the finish line of the "Where the Wild Things Run" 5K on Sunday, in which more than 100 participants ran the 3.1 miles of both hilly road and scenic nature trails on the 85-degree humid morning.

One of two fundraising major events for the Woodcock Nature Center, the race used to be called "The Woody" in the 1970s and 80s but took a hiatus until last year.

The reintroduction of the run symbolizes the new and expanded programming of the Nature Center, according to Teraszkiewicz.

"Our goal is to get families and kids outdoors again," he said.

With the center in a rebuilding phase for the last several years, Teraszkiewicz said that the race was a way to "get back to getting the community involved."

Nestled on 149 acres of state land on the Ridgefield/Wilton line, the Woodcock Nature Center is not set up with a large endowment and it receives no tax dollars to support its work.

All proceeds of the race go to support the nature center's programming, including running its summer camp.

Twenty four of the 86 runners in the adult race were from Ridgefield, including Evan McGerald, who placed fifth overall with a time of 20:17, and Teren Block, who was the second female finisher with a time of 21:21. The winner was Randy Chamberland of Shelton with a time of 19:37.

Teraszkiewicz was standing at the finish line high-fiving all the finishers and thanking them for participating in the race.

Ridgefielders Jennifer Jasminski and her 10-year-old daughter, Katie, usually try to finish races together, but Katie crossed the finish line by herself with a time of 24:37, winning the 17 and under age division for girls and placing 18th overall.

Her mom paused during the race to help a young runner who was struggling and stayed with him until someone came to help.

"I would want someone to do that for my child if that happened to her and I wasn't there," Jasminski said.

She told the young boy that it was important for him to finish the race which, thanks to her encouragement, he did.

Woodcock Board Member and Ridgefielder Betsy Kennally was working the registration table and the finish line.

She got involved in Woodcock while taking one of the center's organized hikes called "Save the Tree Day" with her family.

Both of her daughters, Graciela and Eliana, have attended the summer camp, and she describes the center as a "jewel."

Ridgefielder Erin McMurray and her husband Jim ran the race as a family, with Jim pushing their two young sons in a double stroller along the challenging course.

"It was a great run," said Erin McMurray, "with good times and good friends." She crossed the finish line with her good friend and fellow Ridgefielder Beth Carpenter, whose 14-year-old son Matt was volunteering at the event.

Thrilled with the 25 percent increase in participants from last year, Teraszkiewicz said he hopes that the race will attract even more runners next year to help offset some of the costs of running their outdoor education programming.

"We want kids to grow up with an appreciation for what's in their backyard," he said. "We are not activists—we are educators with an active role."

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