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Chester resident Deb Vilcheck is chairman of the annual Four on the Fourth Road Race in downtown Chester. (Photo by Karena Garrity )
Deb Vilcheck. (Photo by Karena Garrity )
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For 20-year Chester resident Deb Vilcheck, being the chairman of the 41st annual Four on the Fourth Road Race in downtown Chester is one more way to give back to a town and a community she loves so much.
“This is my way of contributing, and that’s what it is all about in these small towns,” says Deb, who fell in love with Chester while she and her husband were house hunting in the area 20 years ago.
“My husband and I had lunch at what’s now The Villager, but was The Lunch Box back then. Looking out at the downtown, I knew I wanted to live in Chester. As they say, it’s quintessential New England and it’s been a wonderful place to live and raise my family. Now it’s my time to give back.”
Deb has been a member of the Chester Rotary for the past three years.
“I’ve been involved in several town activities over the years like the Winter Carnival and other big events, but now I am really stepping it up,” says Deb. “I want to formalize the doing good service to the town and help in anyway I can. Chester is such a beautiful, wonderful, close-knit community, and the Four on the Fourth is the major fundraiser for the Rotary Club which provides those in need in this community with the help they need, as well as contributing to international activities. I love that all the club members are involved and we work together with the town and local businesses to create a really fun experience for our participants and to provide basic needs and enrichment to our community.”
She adds, “Last year I had the privilege of working with our District Governor Trish Pearson and Assistant District Governor Tari Marshall-Day to celebrate 30 years of women in Rotary, where 75 or so of us met for dinner at the Water’s Edge to celebrate. The proceeds of the event went to Dress For Success Mid-Fairfield County, a charitable organization providing gently used, interview-appropriate clothing and other support to women entering the workforce. I love that Rotary respects every useful enterprise and unites people in many ways to do good.”
Taking the reins from former race chair Paul (Pete) Yuhasz, Deb is excited about her new role and bringing some new concepts to the annual fundraiser, such as using runsignup.org for online registration and the addition of the 80-plus award category.
“The addition of the runsignup.org has been terrific in helping registrations and donations,” says Deb. “We’ve already had a higher number of preregistration runners, which has already exceeded last year’s pre-registration numbers. My goal is to exceed the total number of runners we had last year, which was 811.”
No stranger to pounding the pavement herself, Deb has some fond memories of her running days, which is another reason the road race is such a special event to her.
“I ran for charity in the Boston Marathon centennial race, with 40,000 others, in 1996. It was a wonderful, memorable experience, especially the training that goes into running a marathon. Running races and training on hills are important parts of training. Races like Chester’s Four on the Fourth are really helpful and fun and I encourage everyone, young and old, to come out and celebrate in this annual event.”
Runners can run individually, join an existing team, or create their own team. They can designate a charity they want to support or the registration benefits the charities Chester Rotary supports, such as Chester Hose Company, Community Fund, Early Childhood Council, Tri-Town Youth Services, Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries, Bikes for Kids, Chester Boy Scouts, Chester Parks & Rec, Camp Hazen, and Brazilian-American Youth Cultural Exchange.
Two running teams that have been mainstay constants in the race over the past few years who are near and dear to Deb include Remember POW/MIA and Run 169.
“We are honored to have Vietnam veteran Tommy Lee and other veterans ages 36 to 74, who are the team that runs with the American and POW-MIA flags during our race each year, and the Run 169, which runs in every town race in Connecticut. We are excited to have both teams running again this year,” says Deb.
The annual four-mile race route starts at 78 Main Street in Chester and meanders through the shaded neighborhoods and scenic roadways of Chester. It is measured and sanctioned by USTF and the course is visibly marked with red, white, and blue striped Chester town squirrel mascots. There will be water stops every mile along the way and this year there will be additional portable toilets near the start.
Awards will be presented to first, second, and third place female and male runners in all divisions, and additional spirit awards will be given out for teams that dress up.
Commemorative T-shirts will be given out to those who pre-register. According to Deb, this year’s shirts are very special. They are designed by Gary Torello—who is also the race DJ—and they commemorate Roger Bannister, who wore the number 41 when he set the record for the four-minute mile in 1954.
“This will no doubt be a very special shirt for runners and one I think they will treasure,” says Deb, who loves the shirt’s design and concept.
Road race packets will be available for pick-up on Wednesday, July 3 after 4 p.m. and during day-of registrations on Thursday, July 4 at 7 a.m., both at St. Joseph’s Parish Center, 48 Middlesex Turnpike, Chester.
The route for the race is on chesterrotary.com. Runner step-off is at 9 a.m. and there is a $25 registration fee. No pets are allowed in the race.
“This is such a great event, people come from all over to be part of this race and the town is buzzing with excitement that day. Come early and if you are not a runner, come to cheer on the teams and enjoy the downtown area of Chester. It’s a great experience and wonderful annual event that I am so proud to be a part of,” says Deb.
For more information, visit runsignup.org.
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