‘Streakers’ keep New Haven Road Race tradition alive despite the pandemic

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — In any other year, Temple Street in downtown New Haven would be mobbed with people on Labor Day. It is usually the finish line for the Faxon Law New Haven Road Race. The race had to go mostly virtual this year due to the pandemic, although a few of the regulars still ran the race for the 43rd straight time.

“I felt so accomplished after year one I thought I’d try another couple. After 5 or 10 years, it just kind of fed on itself,” said Peter Sanchez, one of 8 runners who ran that first road race in 1978, and every one since.

“It’s fun just seeing the crowds and hearing the bands play and coming here afterwards,” continued Sanchez. “Finishing up and going to the green and having some refreshments.”

This year, however, those streets are empty and the green is quiet.

“It’s just disappointing,” said Road Race president Michael Dolan. “It really is such a great celebration of New Haven.”

The pandemic made Dolan take things virtual. Most racers ran on their own, but those 8 guys who have the 42-race streak going all showed up on the New Haven green to make it 43.

“The streak keeps me going for the whole year. The way I feel, my life is being healthy, and this keeps me going,” said James McCormack, Jr, another of the so-called “Streakers.”

“I’ve got to keep this going because the rocking chair will kill you,” says McCormack.

Up until a few years ago, there were more than 20 streakers.

“Some of the guys have just dropped out because of the physical ailments,” said streaker Steve Praskiewicz. “So I will continue to do it until I am physically unfit. If I have to drag myself and walk, I’ll do that.”

No walking today, though. It may be just a tiny fraction of the usual crowd, but the Faxon Law New Haven Road Race – and the streak – goes on in spite of the pandemic.

Some 800 people signed up to do the race virtually, and the window has been extended through next weekend. They are hoping to get a bunch of Yale students signed up in the next few days.

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