Earlier this month, the RRCA announced its Fall 2016 Runner Friendly Communities. To better celebrate the communities that have been selected, and to encourage other communities to apply, we're spotlighting them with profiles of what made them worthy of this designation.
With a history that stretches back to the Colonial times, Somerville is a quintessential New England town. During the Revolutionary War, Paul Revere’s famous ride to warn of approaching British troops took place through parts of city. Located just two miles northwest of Boston, the proximity is apparent, however, Somerville also has characteristics and a culture that are very much its own. With a population of over 75,000, Somerville has seen three decades of expansion, and the Boston Globe named Somerville the best-run city in Massachusetts in 2006.
This spirit of cooperation can be seen in how the local government, citizens, and law enforcement all work together to create a safe environment for runners. Somerville has a seamless system in place which supports over twelve races a year. A special operations sergeant is tasked with managing event permits, and works collaboratively with race coordinators, the mayor’s office, auxiliary police, the department of public works, and all other involved parties. This collaboration ensures safe and enjoyable races.
There is a strong spirit of community involvement demonstrated by the RRCA member club, the Somerville Road Runners (SRR). The Somerville Road Runners participate in and volunteer for the annual Shape Up Somerville initiative directed by the city. The club started the free annual youth running program following the RRCA’s Kids Run the Nation model. The club also promotes and directs two free weekly fun runs and directs five additional races, with proceeds going to local charities.
The Somerville Recreation Department supports a week long track camp every summer for kids age 7-13. They also stage an annual pre-Boston Marathon pasta party and fundraiser for the Officer Sean Collier Memorial Scholarship designed to assist for Somerville High School graduates entering the local police academy. Office Collier was killed in the line of duty in the aftermath of the 2013 bombing of the Boston Marathon.
The diverse business sector of Somerville is also committed to making the community runner friendly Redbones Barbecue, The Burren Restaurant and Tavern, Wedgewood, Connolly, and Crane Insurance, and Eastern Bank all serve as race sponsors. Casey’s Restaurant and Tavern serves as the meeting place for the clubs weekly Thursday night runs, and is also the location of the pre-Boston Marathon pasta party fundraiser.
“Somerville is a national leader in walkability and bikeability, and we pride ourselves on the way in which our community values and places priority on infrastructure and improvements that foster walking, biking and running,” explained Joseph Curtatone, City of Somerville Mayor, in his letter of recommendation. “As a Somerville resident, a runner, a coach, and a parent of active young children, I am excited about the ways our community is growing, changing, and expanding to support runners.”
Community leaders providing support and letters of recommendation include: Joseph Curtatone - Mayor of Somerville, Mark Alston-Fallansbee - Executive Director of the Somerville Homeless Coalition, John Connolly - Somerville Alderman at Large, David Fallon - Somerville Chief of Police, Brendan Kearney - Communications Manager Walk Boston, and Michael Philpot - Casey’s Restaurant and Tavern.