At 8 a.m. Saturday Aug. 3, the air was dry, not too hot, with a light breeze coming in off the river. It was another great day for running on Southport. More than 150 runners turned out for the annual Southport Yacht Club Rock the Boat. Ages ranged from infants in joggers to experienced runners well into their 70s.
The course isn’t easy. It takes runners from Southport Yacht Club, to the top of Pratt’s Island, back along Route 27 to the General Store, down Dogfish Head and Salt Pond roads to the beach, back up Southport’s own “Heartbreak Hill” to the General Store, and then the downhill finish to the Yacht Club lawn for well-earned water and watermelon. Along the way, runners come upon water stations, cheering supporters with and without cow bells, volunteer course marshals including Fire Chief Gerry Gamage, and encouraging signs such as “Run like there’s a puppy waiting for you at the finish” and “Take a deep breath of the salt air.”
The race was first held in 2014, conceived and organized by Hollyanna Bates and Holly Houston. Their goal was to build community across generations of both summer and year-round residents and to raise funds for the Southport Junior Yacht Club Sailing Foundation. On average, the race raises about $1,000 each year. Six years in, Bates still organizes the event, with Houston providing valuable support on race day. And, of course, there would be no race without the incredible support of the community members who bake pies and line the course with water stations and support.
The race is always keenly contested and this year’s event was no exception, with multiple new course records. Awards were presented on the now traditional picnic table podium, with every group winner receiving a sailboat medal and a pie!
William Crounse, 17, won in 17.04, followed by Joe Molvar, 18.09, Josh Molvar, 18.23, and Crounse’s father, Brian Crounse, 18.28.
Other awards went to: Girls 8 and under – Brooks Baker; Boys 8 and under – Cole Eastwood; Girls 9-11 – Sage Wickline (new course record); Boys 9-11 – Colin Holt; Girls 12-15 – Lidia Cusack; Boys 12-15 – Nathan Cusack (new course record); Girls 16-18 – Elsa Bates; Boys 16-18 – William Crounse; Women 19-29 – Emily Helming (new course record); Men 19-29 – Joe Molvar (new course record); Women 30-39 – Cynthia Cameron; Men 30-39 – John Ostler; Women 40-49 – Susie Uitti; Men 40-49 – Brian Crounse (new course record); Women 50-59 – Jen Auber; Men 50-59 – John Auber (new course record); Women 60-99 – Sharon Jacobs; Men 60-99 – Andrew Clarke. The first female finisher was Emily Helming. The award to the “family with most participants, either volunteering or running,” went to the Cusack/Alberino/Saudek/Collier family who boasted 21 members taking part.