Bassett, Buechele top finishers in Big Cheese 5k road race

  • Runners line up in anticipation of the start of Saturday’s Big Cheese 5K, kicking off River Rat Race Weekend. This year marked the 10th anniversary of the race. Greg Vine

  • CUTLINE 2747/48: Runners line up in anticipation of the start of Saturday’s Big Cheese 5K, kicking off River Rate Race Weekend. This year marked its 10th anniversary of the race. CUTLINE 2751: Corey Boucher, 25, of Leominster was one of more than 370 people who took part in the 10th annual Big Cheese 5K. CUTLINE 2753: Even four-legged friends and those who haven’t quite yet mastered bipedalism participated in Saturday’s Big Cheese 5K. CUTLINE 2777: Garret Cole, 17, of Warwick and Garrett Hall, 23, of Royalston were among those who crossed the finish line during the Big Cheese 5K Saturday morning. CUTLINE 2741/43: Kelly Phillips of Cliff’s Smokin’ Backyard Barbeque & Catering was one of many vendors on hand for Saturday’s River Rat festivities. CUTLINE 2744/45: Casey Aucoin of Athol holds his 5-year-old niece, Piper Alton, while she and Aucoin’s daughter, Brooke, 3, each enjoy a pre-parade lollipop. CUTLINE 2757: Adults Mindy Meehan and Lindsay Brailey are accompanied by Wesley Burton, 3, and Alexa Anderson, 8, waiting for the start of the Big Cheese 5K. The group was photobombed by Heather Seymour. All are from Athol. CUTLINE 2766/67: These spectators were able to ditch the umbrellas before the start of Saturday’s Big Cheese 5K and River Rat Parade. (l-r) Alissa Newcomb of Athol with her son Hunter, 4, and daughter Emma-Lee, 2. CUTLINE 2779: With Easter just around the corner, this “bunny” made an early appearance Saturday during the River Rat Parade. CUTLINE 2781: This hen got to watch the River Rat Parade in style. CUTLINE 2783: Participants in Saturday’s River Rat Parade included these large dogs (small horses?). —Greg Vine

  • CUTLINE 2747/48: Runners line up in anticipation of the start of Saturday’s Big Cheese 5K, kicking off River Rate Race Weekend. This year marked its 10th anniversary of the race. CUTLINE 2751: Corey Boucher, 25, of Leominster was one of more than 370 people who took part in the 10th annual Big Cheese 5K. CUTLINE 2753: Even four-legged friends and those who haven’t quite yet mastered bipedalism participated in Saturday’s Big Cheese 5K. CUTLINE 2777: Garret Cole, 17, of Warwick and Garrett Hall, 23, of Royalston were among those who crossed the finish line during the Big Cheese 5K Saturday morning. CUTLINE 2741/43: Kelly Phillips of Cliff’s Smokin’ Backyard Barbeque & Catering was one of many vendors on hand for Saturday’s River Rat festivities. CUTLINE 2744/45: Casey Aucoin of Athol holds his 5-year-old niece, Piper Alton, while she and Aucoin’s daughter, Brooke, 3, each enjoy a pre-parade lollipop. CUTLINE 2757: Adults Mindy Meehan and Lindsay Brailey are accompanied by Wesley Burton, 3, and Alexa Anderson, 8, waiting for the start of the Big Cheese 5K. The group was photobombed by Heather Seymour. All are from Athol. CUTLINE 2766/67: These spectators were able to ditch the umbrellas before the start of Saturday’s Big Cheese 5K and River Rat Parade. (l-r) Alissa Newcomb of Athol with her son Hunter, 4, and daughter Emma-Lee, 2. CUTLINE 2779: With Easter just around the corner, this “bunny” made an early appearance Saturday during the River Rat Parade. CUTLINE 2781: This hen got to watch the River Rat Parade in style. CUTLINE 2783: Participants in Saturday’s River Rat Parade included these large dogs (small horses?). —Greg Vine

  • Born to be wild! This member of the Lady Riders, Order of the Eagles Chapter 4545 of Athol-Orange was among the contingent riding in the River Rat Promenade Saturday. Greg Vine

  • Adults Mindy Meehan and Lindsay Brailey are accompanied by Wesley Burton, 3, and Alexa Anderson, 8, waiting for the start of the Big Cheese 5K. The group was photobombed by Heather Seymour. All are from Athol.  —Greg Vine

  • Casey Aucoin of Athol holds his 5-year-old niece, Piper Alton, while she and Aucoin’s daughter, Brooke, 3, each enjoy a pre-parade lollipop.   Greg Vine

For the Athol Daily News
Published: 4/14/2019 10:06:17 PM

ATHOL — Saturday began a bit – well – wet, but the race gods were apparently smiling on the in the organizers and participants of the Big Cheese 5K. The race that kicked off River Rat Race weekend proceeded without a hitch, despite rains that fell until about a half-hour before race time.

According to race co-coordinator Matt Talbot, nearly 320 people took part in the 10th edition of the race, which raises cash for local non-profits. In an earlier interview, Talbot told the Daily News that since its inception the Big Cheese has raised more than $45,000 for Meals-on-Wheels, the annual Food-a-Thon, and to help families that meet income guidelines pay for membership and program fees at the Athol Area YMCA. While exact figures for 2019 aren’t yet available, last year’s race raised more than $6,000.

This year’s overall winner for the men was Jack Bassett, who finished the course in 17 minutes, 34 seconds. Second place went to Ryan Lyesiuk, who clocked in at 18:45. For the women, the top spot went to Bess Buechele, finishing in 23:59. Deanna Deacon finished in 25:10 to capture second.

Among the vendors who showed up for the parade was Kelly Phillips of Cliff’s Smokin’ Backyard Barbeque and Catering. The resident of Buckland, Mass. said she has continued to operate the business, despite the death of her husband, Cliff, five years ago.

“I love meeting all the people,” she said. “I love putting smiles on peoples’ faces. Over the years of doing this, I’ve gotten to know a lot of families. I’ve seen people graduate, get married, have babies.”

Over the weekend, Phillips operated her induction smoker in Athol, while another crew set up in Orange, using the rotisserie/barrel smoker.

“Cliff may not be here, but I know he’s watching…happy that we’re still making other people happy,” she said.

Alexa Anderson, 8, likes everything about the parade, but her favorite part “is when they throw the candy.” Wesley Burton, 3, who accompanied Alexa to the event, agreed that getting a little candy was the highlight of the day.

“We do it for the kids,” said Heather Seymour of Athol. “It’s fun. It’s a chance to get out and do something with the kids that’s fun and doesn’t cost a whole lot of money.”


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