Lions' 5K attracts 723 runners, walkers on a glorious Labor Day]

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:53

Warwick — It was a gorgeous day with a phenomenal turnout. The Lions' 14th annual Labor Day 5K went off without a hitch and 723 runners and walkers finished the scenic route with spirit and enthusiasm. And while the top finishers walked off with medals and prize money, as well as a new women's record for Warwick's own Aislinn Ryan, it was the race director herself and the person who crossed the finish line last who epitomize what this race is all about. Carol McManus has been the race director for many years. This year was different for her. She is fighting a battle against pancreatic cancer. Her family, from all over the country, came to support her, wearing their "Team Carol" stickers and collecting money to be donated to pancreatic cancer research. Friends and supporters joined them—many making contributions as they registered and many others via the Internet to "Team Carol." By Monday evening, Team Carol exceeded its goal of $10,000, raising $10,689.50 for PanCAN. McManus was supported throughout the race by her family, obvious in their bright yellow shirts. They crossed the finish line with her as the DJ played "Sweet Caroline" and Coach Tim St. Lawrence announced his long-time friend, thanking her for her spirit and the enthusiasm she gives to this event every year. At the back of the pack was Barbara Fiore. She didn't set out to win this race; she didn't think she'd finish last either. But it didn't matter. She had her own cheering section. Fiore crossed the line at just more than one hour on the course. She was accompanied by her mom, Barbara Maloney, and her sister, Sue Scarpulla. Her husband, Dr. John Fiore, who had finished the race earlier, walked back to meet his wife. This was a big victory for Fiore, who had double knee replacement just eight months ago. "I knew I'd be slow, but not last," said Fiore, a teacher at St. Stephen's, after the race. One of her former students stood nearby, telling Fiore it didn't matter. "She is a great teacher," said the young woman. Paul Mwangi, 38, was the top finisher, coming in at 15:08. The course record is 14:31. Ryan broke the women's course record, which she set last year. This year, the 17-year-old Warwick High School student ran the course in 16:38, shaving 11 seconds off that record. The Lions' Labor Day 5K has become a community event in Warwick. This year, the 723 finishers was a new record for the course. It is festive and lively, with a DJ playing upbeat music from early in the morning until the entire event is over. Coach Tim St. Lawrence announces as the runners and walkers head to the finish line. There are door prizes and medals and prize money for the top finishers. Although 723 people finished the 5K race on Monday. 797 actually registered - a records for the race. The complete results are listed on A day after the race, McManus was still moved by the community support. She told the story of one runner who came up to her first thing Tuesday and gave her an angel to wear on her shoulder. "He told me it was a running angel," said McManus. "And, you know, when the race was over, I realized that is exactly what this community is — they are like little angels. My sisters have been that way and so has this community. They are all running angels." McManus was touched by the kind words she received from so many of the participants. She was overwhelmed by the escort she received as she turned toward the finish line and police Chief Tom McGovern led the way on his motorcycle. "It was just an extraordinary day," she said. Lions' 5K attracts 723 runners, walkers on a glorious Labor Day