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Article Published June 29, 2022

Racing for Goodwill at the 44th Four on the Fourth

By By Aaron Rubin

Whether you are a runner, a jogger, or just enjoy watching others run, the 44th annual Four on the Fourth is just the excuse you need to up and move for those in need.

The Chester Rotary hosts its annual Four on the Fourth fundraising footrace in celebration of Independence Day, an event in which can be participated in-person or virtually. The funds that are raised from those signing up for the race will be donated to a variety of local charities and organizations.

Commencing at 9 a.m., the in-person race will take runners on a four-mile track from their starting point on Main Street through the downtown area and onto Water Street. An Independence Day ceremony will be held prior to the start to honor the 12 participating veterans representing the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency team in the race.

While the Rotary was forced to limit the number of runners to 500 last year due to social-distancing policies mitigating the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, the number of participants this year is expected to be well above that figure, according to Debra Vilcheck, the Chair of the Chester Rotary Race Committee. The Committee is prepared to accommodate for an expected increase primarily due to late registration of participants, and will ensure that traffic measures are taken to not interrupt the race’s path.

“We certainly do not want private cars on the road while we have 500, or even up to 800 people running out there,” said Vilcheck.

Volunteers from the Chester Hose Company will assist in placing barricades along the race route to the start and will put up notices in town informing residents of road closures due to the race. Roads such as Main Street and Maple Street will be closed from 8:30 a.m. to noon.

While running is the preferred method of running the race, participants can practice whatever form of mobility they prefer, whether that’s a hard run to score a personal record, or simply walking. Either way, funds raised from the event will be donated to numerous charities benefiting human services and organizations in the community. Among the many include the Shoreline Soup Kitchen, Tri-Town Youth Services, the Early Childhood Education Council, Bikes for Kids, and the Constance Baker Motley Camp Hazen Foundation.

Aside from the in-person race on the Fourth, those who still wish to participate can do so through a virtual race the Rotary sponsors from July 4 to 10. Starting in 2020 due to COVID-19, registered runners will abide by the honor system to run their four miles across the seven day period in whatever way they see fit. Running or walking, one mile a day or the whole distance in one go, virtual participants can track their progress through the online application RaceJoy, and the recorded results will be submitted to the Rotary. Those who chose this option can use any location as their route, an option that can open up some fun challenges.

“In 2020, we had a group where the family was spread over different states, and they each ran the four miles on the Fourth of July, and they took pictures of themselves in their race t-shirts, and they made a composite picture of all of them, so it looked like they were running together, but they were in different states. So people were creative with it,” said Vilcheck.

For Vilcheck, the race is meant to be a fun and active event for the benefit and joy of the community, one that celebrates not just the federal holiday, but that also honors all its organizers.

“The people who work on this race come from all walks of life,” she said. “The volunteer work that they do in making the race run is not based on a hierarchy of someone’s importance. People come from all walks of life, and they are doing everything. Setting up and breaking down tents, picking up trash, and cleaning up after the race. That’s what I love, the service to the community.”

Registration for both the in-person and virtual options is $25. In-person registration ends at 11 p.m. on July 3 for the former option, and at 11:59 p.m. on July 10 for the latter. More information is available at https://runsignup.com/Race/CT/Chester/ChesterRotarysFourontheFourth