What connection does a road race in Concord, N.H. have with the town of Somerset?
Perhaps, you could reasonably guess, a Somerset resident vacationing in New Hampshire might be moved to jump in the race. And if the race is a large one and pays out some decent cash, and this one is and does, it could conceivably attract some runners from our area.
Revealing the name of the race should serve as an above-average clue, certainly for those with long long associations with Somerset High School athletics, or those who are Facebook friends with Somerset Berkley Regional High School Hall of Fame founder and chairman Doug Chapman.
Originally known as the Concord 5-Miler, the aforementioned race has since 1984 been named the Bill Luti 5 Mile Road Race, for its founder and legitimate legendary New Hampshire cross-country and track and field coach. Luti started this immensely popular road race 50 years ago.
On July 21, the race will go off for the 51st time. In his 90s, Luti is still active and loves reuniting with many of his former athletes from Concord High School.
For the sake of full disclosure, let it be known that Luti, some 70 years ago, was Somerset High School’s first track and field coach. He is a member of the school’s athletics hall of fame. For those who think of retired SHS teacher/coach Dick Bernardo as the godfather of SHS track and field, note that Luti coached Bernardo at SHS.
Last year, there were 489 finishers at the Luti. Included in the field was Joan Samuelson, of Maine, winner of the first women’s Olympic marathon, in 1984 in Los Angeles. At age 60, Samuelson last year finished ninth among women, in 31:47.
Here are some fun facts about Luti, taken from the race website.
Following his time at Somerset High School, Luti coached boys’ track and field at Concord High School from 1957 to 1982, with his teams winning 13 state championships and four New England championships. In a 10-year run as girls’ track and field coach, his teams won five Class L titles, seven state titles, and one New England championship.
He came out retirement to coach girls’ cross country for two years, and the results were a Class L and state title.
Email Greg Sullivan at email@example.com. Follow him @GregSullivanHN.