Organizers of the second annual Run for the Hills road race were hoping for a bigger turnout, but they hadn't even dreamed of drawing three times the number of runners they had participate in their inaugural 2010 event.
"We are so thrilled," said Janet Jacobsen, president of the Bedford Hills Neighborhood Assocation, which hosted the run. "I think it shows we made improvements based on suggestions we received last year, and we increased the publicity to bring more people to our hamlet."
Participants began spilling into Depot Plaza in Bedford Hills beginning around 7:30 a.m. Runners hailed from as far away as Yonkers and the Bronx, Scarsdale and Sleepy Hollow, and as close as South Salem, Somers, Katonah and of course, Bedford.
Steve Hardy, of Pleasantville, stretched his quadriceps before the race and said he decided to enter when his friend Brian Braden, of Bedford Corners, asked him to participate. The two men were looking for a good finish, they said.
Stuart Weitzman, a Bedford Hills chiropractor who rode his bicycle to the staging area, said he hoped to run the 5K in under 30 minutes.
The top finishers came in under 20 minutes. Nicholas Viglione, 23, took the honors of fastest male in the race at 17 minutes, 44 seconds.
"I used to run competitively but this I entered just for fun," said Viglione, a former college runner and current fourth-grade teacher at the Rippowam Cisqua School.
Michele Vasquez, 32, of Yonkers, was the first female to cross the finish line at 22 minutes. She works during the week as a nanny for a local family and said she was glad to be able to be in town on a weekend.
For Jeremy Sussman, it was a chance to run a race "barefoot," wearing what looked like socks but were actually (those are his red feet in the slide show posted with this story). They must have worked just fine—Sussman finished not far after the winners, at 23 minutes, 50 seconds.
A pack of runners in their mid-20's crossed the finish line in the mid-20's. Serafino Bueti, 24, finished at 24:40, with several of his friends surrounding him. "We all grew up around here, went to Fox Lane," he said. "The race gave us a chance to get out and see each other."
For the shopkeepers of Bedford Hills and the members of the BHNA it was a chance to show off their town.
"I live here, I love it here, and I'm happy to support the event," said race sponsor Leslie Williams, owner of the Perennial Chef, a popular destination for spectators and race finishers alike.
"We couldn't be more thrilled," said Whitney Barbera-Serrell, a BHNA officer. "I think for us, this is just the beginning."