Photo: The start of the Brendan’s Home Run 5K.
For 17 years, Belmont celebrated the life of a young resident with a road race that became a Father’s Day tradition.
“This is the final year of the road race,” said Casey Grant, president of the Brendan Grant Foundation and father of Brendan who died in 2001 after a collision while playing baseball.
“There’s a lot of good memories. And we’ve done a lot of good. But the effort to put on a race that both residents and some really good runners want to attend is just enormous,” he said during a break at the Memorial Weekend Baseball Tournament that took place Saturday.
(In a related note, due to the construction of the Belmont Middle and High School, this year will be the last for the tournament at its present location, the Brendan Grant Memorial Field.)
Grant cited a number of factors for ending the event, but foremost was losing key people who supported it for two decades. The most significant loss was race director and vice president of the foundation Brian Rogers who died suddenly last year, which Grant called a “shock beyond shock.”
“[Rogers] was quite honestly, the champion of that whole effort from the very beginning” when the race started in 2002, said Grant.
The race – which serves as a fundraiser for the foundation – started small but grew each year under Rogers’ tutelage. An experienced runner, Rogers handled the “incredibly intense volunteer effort” that attracted young up-and-coming runners including an Olympian (London 2012’s Steph Reilly from Ireland), numerous US Olympic Trails participants, NCAA national champions, marathon winners (Belmont’s own Becca Pizzi), families, joggers, plodders, walkers and for many years a famous astronaut, Apollo 11’s Micheal Collins.
“It’s just people generally do not understand how much work goes into. It’s enormous and it’s brutal,” Grant said.
While the race was successful, Grant said he and Rogers felt for the past few years the time was approaching for the race to come to a conclusion.
“Brian and I used to talk about having a logical end for the race and actually going out on top, and not withering on the vine,” said Grant. Rather than find a replacement for Rogers – “You know that was impossible” – Grant and the foundation decided this year would be the last.
“Here it is, the race’s 18th year, and Brendan was 18 when he passed on, and we thought, you know, it was time,” said Grant. “We clearly want to do it one last time, and honor all these wonderful people have done so much over the years, and really, given tremendous amounts.”
Each participant will receive a tribute booklet in their runners packet “to honor all these great athletes as well as all these people who’ve passed on and support them,” said Grant.