, Newburyport, MA


December 10, 2012

Race in Merrimac raises $1,500; racers donate 250 toys


Rita Labella, 62, of Tewksbury took a fall a few weeks ago, but was ready to take on the 4-miler.

“I was kind of taking it easy out there, but it was good,” said LaBella, who says she runs almost 45 races a year . “Everyone out there was really enthusiastic about bringing the toys in, and that’s the really important part of this race. Being able to contribute for the kids.”

LaBella’s friend, Julie Cristo, 86, of Bradford runs about six races a year and has been running the Toy Trot from the beginning.

“Every (Trot) is very pleasant, very nice,” said Cristo. “It’s a nice group. It starts with the little kids and has us old people, and it’s still a great race.”

Christopher Baird, 24, of Boston was the winner of the 6-miler at 30:04 and Brianna Blanchard, also 24, of Boston took the women’s prize at 38:35.

Mike Leonard, 47, of Newburyport ran the 6-mile race while his son, Cam, 13, took on the 2-miler since he runs cross-country for the Immaculate Conception School.

“I really didn’t want to hurt my legs running longer,” said Cam, who finished the 2-miler at 12:51. “This is my second time running this race. I really like doing this.”

“I was under the 7-minute mile so that’s a good bench mark,” said Mark. “I’ve done this seven or eight times. It’s pretty nice because the course is fairly flat. It’s always a good time here.”

Bob Brown was playing the part of a holiday elf wearing a red and green court jester’s hat complete with bells for the Amesbury Holiday Program, and was happy to raise money for a good cause.

“It makes me happy,” Brown said of his festive hat. “I’m a cheerleader for Christmas and a cheerleader for the runners. We can help people who need it.”

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