Firemen’s 5K gives ‘Healthy Spirit’ award to 86-year-old Sarah Seger

By Calla Vassilopoulos - Staff Writer
Suffield - posted Wed., Jun. 5, 2013
'Healthy Spirit' recipient Sarah Seger receives the award from the Suffield Fire Department Auxiliary in the spirit of the late firefighter Paul R. Simison. Photos by Calla Vassilopoulos.
'Healthy Spirit' recipient Sarah Seger receives the award from the Suffield Fire Department Auxiliary in the spirit of the late firefighter Paul R. Simison. Photos by Calla Vassilopoulos.

For participant Sarah Seger, it was just another year at Suffield’s annual Firemen’s 5K road race valuing the simple things in life – family and health. Little did she know, Seger was pre-selected by the 5K committee to be this year’s "Healthy Spirit" recipient on June 2.

The 86-year-old has participated in the race every year since it began. “Every year I say no more,” said Seger. “I am not an athlete. I never was an athlete. My husband was a runner and I didn’t run with him, but it’s good to keep moving.”

This year Seger finished in a time of just under 56 minutes, beating approximately 40 other participants, and was first in her age group of 70 and up. “She can walk like a madwoman,” said Gwen Gorski, 5K chairperson and president of the Suffield Fire Department Auxiliary. “When the auxiliary started racing we were walkers, we weren’t runners, and she was a walker and she beat us by 30 minutes.”

Seger has lived in Suffield for 47 years and owns a few acres of land she still mows on her tractor. Seger also rakes and does other yard work, which helps her stay healthy, according to her daughter, Ellen Ravens-Seger.

“I just had to beat your mother,” said one of this year’s participants to Ellen.

“My mother motivates a lot of people,” said Ellen. “She is pretty stubborn, she’s very family-oriented, and she is a very simple person. It sounds trite, but our health is so important to us and she’s got that taken care of and she’s happy with everything else. I think she’s got some good genes on her side, but she does take care of herself.”

The "Healthy Spirit" award is given in the spirit of Paul R. Simison, who founded the race more than 15 years ago as a way to help improve the health of the community. Simison died in early 2012 in a motor vehicle accident. Since then, the race has been held in his name each June, and the "Healthy Spirit" award is given in his honor. 

The award is not based on any measureable aspects of the race, rather on what the committee feels best represents the spirit of the event. When selecting a recipient, the committee considers age, years of participation, challenges, families running/walking, neighborhood groups, and work groups with or without family members.

In addition to the "Healthy Spirit," awards were given to first, second, and third place for male and female runners, as well as first place for each age group, and a team trophy. Markowski Dental Associates had the largest team at the race and was this year’s first-place team trophy recipient. The dental office brings many participants to the race each year, not just from the office, but family and friends as well.

This year’s race brought 375 participants to the finish line, from 6-year-olds to 86-year-olds. There were many other children in the race younger than 6 years old, but they were not registered separately from their parents. The SFD Auxiliary organizes the race to raise money for the fire department to provide specialty equipment the town does not supply.

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