Spartyka trail run a race that highlights our military community

For a military community such as ours, this is a race that has special meaning.

On Saturday, May 12, the Second Annual Spartyka Wounded Warrior 5K CT Trail Run will be held at 9 a.m. at Bluff Point State Park in Groton.

The race is part of a series of 5Ks across the country in military communities such as San Diego, El Paso and Virginia Beach that raises funds for the Wounded Warrior Project, a nonprofit organization that helps injured veterans.

Race spokeswoman Rebecca Desjardins, who grew up in Plainville and now lives in Virginia Beach, said Thursday that Groton was chosen as a location because of the proximity to both the Naval Submarine Base and the Coast Guard Academy.

The first race was held in Virginia Beach in 2009.

"When we talked about expanding we looked at communities that have concentrations of military personnel," she said.

And being from eastern Connecticut, she was familiar with its long military ties.

Last year the race attracted 55 people but this year she expects about 200 runners. The race will be along the park's main loop.

As there are at all of the Spartyka Wounded Warrior runs, there will be an ceremony 15 minutes before the start that recognizes a local warrior of the day who was injured in recent action as well as a flag presentation to a family who has lost a relative.

The warrior of the day is Alex Lozano of Niantic, an East Lyme High School graduate and Army Specialist who was shot in the back while serving in Iraq in 2008. He lost a kidney but recovered. He has since retired from the Army and is now a member of the Flanders Volunteer Fire Department and serves as an EMT.

The Connecticut Chapter of Honor and Remember will present a personalized flag to the family of Navy SEAL Brian Bill of Stamford, who was killed in August of 2011 when the helicopter he was in was shot down in Afghanistan.

The entry fee is $25 in advance at RaceIt.com and $30 on race day. For more information contact Desjardins at rebeccad@spartykanation.com or go to http://spartykawoundedwarrior.com/

A new race

At 10 a.m. on Sunday May 20, Gabriele's Martial Arts in Waterford will hold a benefit 5K race at Waterford Beach to raise money for the neonatal intensive care unit at Lawrence & Memorial Hospital.

Owner Olinda Gabriele, whose studio sponsors a running team, said the event is part of her business trying to give back to community as much as it can.

This will be the third fundraiser she has done for the hospital and the second for the NICU.

"We thought about having a pancake breakfast but we thought a race would be much more appropriate with our business. Instead of flipping pancakes, we thought it would be better for us to be out running," she said.

Gabriele said she chose the NICU because she was impressed with its care of both infants and their families.

For more information contact Gabriele at gabrieleskarate@hotmail.com or (860) 439-0602.

On the schedule

• The Jogger Joe fun runs, a series of free races that have taken place each Friday in May and June for more than 30 years, starts this Friday at 6 p.m. at Esker Point Beach in Noank. This year there will be a new course because of ongoing bridge construction near Main Beach in Groton Long Point.

Details of the new route will be available the night of the race. The 1.5-mile warmup begins at 6, followed by a flat self-timed 3-mile race about 6:20. The races are named for Joseph "Jogger Joe" Smith, a longtime runner from the area who now lives in Maine. For more information, contact Steve Fagin at 1stevefagin@gmail.com.

• The Mohegan Striders Running Club's next meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, May 10, at the Norwich Free Academy library, room 1101.

Joe Wojtas is The Day's running columnist.

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