Registration for Big Cheese 5K

  • A mischief of Big Cheese 5k rats work their way through downtown Athol on April 11, 2016. ADN File/Jared Robinson—

Staff Writer
Friday, February 09, 2018

ATHOL — It can be considered the unofficial opening of River Rat season with the registration for the eight annual Big Cheese 5K now open.

The annual “run for food and fun” attracts hundreds every year from all around and kicks off the River Rat Day festivities as the runners and walkers precede the traditional River Rat Promenade through downtown Athol.

Last year’s race attracted 405 participants despite chilly temperatures, and Aaron Stone, 34, was the top overall winner of the race with a time of 17:32. Emma Currier, 16, was the top female runner at 22:18. David Kymalainen, 65, was the top walker at 36:03.

The race route is certified by USA Track & Field and includes Exchange Street Hill, which co-founder Heather Brissette calls “Athol’s own version of the Boston Marathon’s ‘Heartbreak Hill.’”

The race starts at the intersection of School and Prospect streets and proceeds through the crowd-lined Main Street as those gathered for the parade cheer on the runners and walkers.

Proceeds from the 5K go to the North Quabbin Food-a-thon and the region’s Meals on Wheels program. Past contributions have been also made to the Athol Memorial Hospital Auxiliary, the town’s all-volunteer Holiday Decorating Committee, the Orange Historical Society, and the Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical School’s Information Technology Program.

Pre-registration for the race can be done online at http://bit.ly/2Ef0jEb or on raceday at the check-in in Athol Town Hall’s Memorial Hall starting at 8 a.m. the morning of the race. The cost of registration is $20 for adults, and $15 for those under 18 until March 24. After that date the prices jump to $25 and $20 respectively.

Prizes are awarded for the top three participants in each category and for the best costumes.

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