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Back in the 1980's, Bruce Barnes was not only one of the fastest runners in an already really fast town, he was also easily one of the nicest!
For 10 years, from 1980 through the summer of his untimely and tragic death in 1990, the New York speedster from Westchester County was one of the most dominant racers in the state and also one of the most popular. Not only could he run a sub-2:30 marathon and a 51 minute 10 miler, he could also go back out onto a course, after winning the race, and cheer on and pace the slower runners across the finish line. He also did something we don’t see as much of anymore and that’s volunteer as often as he raced. At his core, he was hard wired to give as much as he took and that sense of balance between racing and volunteering endured Bruce to all who had the pleasure of knowing him.
The Bruce Barnes Mile is run in beautiful Greenwood every year right around the time of his birthday. And Bruce’s mark is all over this special nostalgic, no frills event as it’s a throwback to a time far away. An era when there were no technical shirt giveaways or fancy prizes…just a cup or two of water, a few sliced oranges and the assurance that you just completed an accurately measured course and the thrill of seeing your name listed on the complete results that were always posted to a tree or on the window of the volunteer race director’s car.
This was Bruce’s era and because the race is named after him it has taken on a true retro look and feel. Squint your eyes throughout the Bruce Barnes Mile experience and you’d swear you had traveled back to the time of Tears for Fears, VHS tapes and $35 Nike Waffle Trainers. So, every June, folks of all ages and abilities, from 7 to 87-year-olds and from four minute milers to those chugging along at a 15 minute pace, enjoy this special “classic race experience”.
(by Mark Lorenzoni, 2013)