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Annual Walter's Run charity road race hoping for record turnout

Posted by Matt Rocheleau  November 30, 2010 11:50 AM

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(Taslim Sidi / Boston Globe file)

Competitors in the older age divisions of Walter's Run participated in year's race that raised the most money for charity in event history.

Walter’s Run, a 17-year local charity fund-raising “holiday tradition,” will race through West Roxbury streets alongside a new partner this December.

Girl’s on the Run of Suffolk County, a chapter of a national campaign for pre-teen girls which combines running training with curriculum designed to encourage positive emotional, social, mental and physical development, was founded this summer. The youth girls' empowerment group chose Walter's Run for its innaugural race, said Keith Shields director of Walter's Run.

Eleven Boston-area girls ages 8 to 12 from the group will run their first 5-kilometer race as a class alongside adult companions, or "sole-mates," when they join the annual event on Dec. 12 that raises money for three charities: The Boston Globe Santa Fund, the Greater Boston YMCA’s Reach Out Campaign, and the Walter Burgess Scholarship Fund, race organizers said.

Globe Santa, described by those who knew Burgess as a favorite charity of his, provides holiday gifts to needy children in Greater Boston; the YMCA’s Reach Out Campaign gives financial aid to those who could not otherwise afford the organization’s programs and services; the Walter Burgess Scholarship sends young runners to a Newport,-R.I. summer running camp.

“We were looking for a race with a focus on fun as well as service.” Jenn McNamara, a coach for Girls on the Run, said in a release. “Walter's Run offers both with the holiday theme and the obvious passion the organizers have for the sport as well as the focus on raising money for charity. This race is the perfect place to celebrate the girls' growth and accomplishments of the season.”

Walter Burgess, 40, died in 2003.
Formerly called the Santa Scamper, charity event organized by the neighborhood-based Parkway Running Club was renamed Walter’s Run in honor of former running club member Walter Burgess who died at age 40 in 2003. The event has raised over $30,000 since 2004, including a record $6,300 last year, said Shields.

“Walter’s Run is more than just an athletic event, it’s becoming a holiday tradition for the whole family," he said in a release.

"I think this is going to be a record year," added Shields during a phone call Monday.

The event typically draws 300 runners, but with the addition of the girls group and past participants who have told Shields they have recruited friends to join them this year, he said he is expecting around 350.

The Sunday event will be kicked off by a free, non-competitive youth race for ages 10 and under at 10:40 a.m. The less-than-1K Kid’s Race is overseen by Santa, and participants receive a ribbon and candy cane from the big-bearded jolly man in red.

The day’s races will start and finish at the West Roxbury YMCA on Bellevue Street. Amenities include a wheel-measured course, raffle, free running gloves and a swag bag to the first 250 entrants, a post-race feast provided by local businesses, trophies for top finishers and medals for the top three runners in each age group.

Registration for the 5K is $20. For more information, visit or contact Race Director Keith Shields at 617-594-3194 or

E-mail Matt Rocheleau at

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