On Saturday, the first racers finished the Northfield Flying-Pig five K in less than 19 minutes but competitors had to wait more than two years to hear the starting gun.
"Northfield's back in business and we come together as a community to celebrate labor day once again," said race director, Rowley Brucken.
The first race took place 35 years ago and shirts commemorate each annual run. But last August, Tropical Storm Irene washed away the competition and Labor Day weekend celebrations. This year's run is the 34th in Northfield.
Just a few hundred yards down the road from the finish line, John Lepore was still repairing damage to his home. He says he felt prepared when the strom to hit late last August.
"Five minutes later, I'm paddling out in a canoe," said John Lepore, explaining his experience with Irene.
Lepore poured more than $30,000 into renovating his home, on top of $40,000 from his insurance policy. But despite all the work the storm created, he maintains more good than bad has come of Irene.
"It's a quieter neighborhood, it's a different neighborhood, but those of us that are still here are a lot closer," said Lepore.
He says it's great to see the race return even though most of his neighbors won't. About 200 people took part in the run, and sponsor Northfield Savings Bank will donate $3,000 to Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sports. But race directors say the real draw for racers is the crowd.
"A lot of big city races where the spectators just say 'go' or 'looking good,' that kind of thing, but here when you come to Northfield, people cheer you by name, cause they know you," said Brucken.
Many of the race-day volunteers and competitors are the same people who helped Lepore and others clean up. Lepore says he'll take the night off and join them for Saturday's street dance. But he doesn't expect his race to recovery will end until New Year's.
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