Kennedy Community 5K Now a Walk/Run, In and Out of Polar Park

Kennedy Community 5K Now a Walk/Run, In and Out of Polar Park

By: John Conceison

Kennedy Community Health and Worcester Red Sox have partnered to present the center’s annual 5K walk/run at Polar Park this year

When the event began in 2015, it was a fine walk in the park in Worcester for a tremendous cause. 

Steve Kerrigan, left, president and CEO of Kennedy Community Health, stands with Joe Bradlee, WooSox vice president of baseball operations and community relations before a recent game at Polar Park. Kerrigan, left, threw out the ceremonial first ball at this game.

Since then, the Kennedy Community Health event has indeed grown, into an annual 5K walk/run, but one thing remains the same — you can still take a walk in the park.

Or course, this walk now can be along a warning track, which girds the playing diamond at Polar Park. Meanwhile, runners also will be on hand, to take on a road race through the Canal District.

The Kennedy Community Health 5K Walk & Run is set for two Saturdays from now, Aug. 7, at the new home of the Worcester Red Sox, and the road race director couldn’t be happier.

“We are so excited to be partnering with the Worcester Red Sox on this,” said Juli True Dooley, Kennedy Community Health’s director of grants and marketing. “We thought what a great opportunity to further our relationship with the WooSox.”

It’s a relationship that began with the Triple-A organization when it was still in Pawtucket. The Kennedy Community Health Center’s event, which formerly was held at Great Brook Valley, across from the center, was held virtually last year, and though it registered more than 100 participants, there remained something missing.

“People were still excited, and they were stir-crazy, looking for that something to do,” Dooley added. “But there was still a lost sense of community, not quite that community-gathering feel. So we figured when we went back live, why not up the ante.”

“Kennedy Community Health is thrilled to be teaming up with the Worcester Red Sox to bring our annual 5K Walk and Run to Polar Park,” said Steve Kerrigan, Kennedy Community Health’s president and CEO. “What started as a walk around Great Brook Valley has grown over the years to become a staple summer event for friends and family of the Health Center.”

Founded in a Worcester housing project in 1972, Kennedy Community Health has three medical facilities, two dental sites, two optometry practices and six school-based centers serving residents of Worcester, Framingham, Milford and surrounding communities of Central Mass. and MetroWest. Currently, more than 26,000 of all ages receive care and service through the Kennedy Community Health system.

Aside from the attraction of Polar Park, another enticing feature of this event is the price — $10 entry fee for runners, $5 for walkers, with commemorative T-shirts included. Race-day registration begins at 8 a.m. in the Polar Park concourse, the runners start at 9 and the walkers at 9:15. An awards ceremony is set for 10:30.

“There’s a lot of interest, we’ve had a steady flow of registrations, and we’ve had a few more sponsors,” Dooley said. “Plus, many organizations are pulling teams together.”

While at Polar Park, those on hand can tour the park, and families can enjoy the recently opened children’s area beyond the left field wall, where WooSox mascot Smiley Ball will pose for pictures with the kids.

Volunteers will be on hand from Central Mass Striders, which has provided timing services for the event since offering a running race in 2018, in what is a busy weekend for CMS. Walkers have the option of completing a mile around the warning track, which is exactly four laps, or venturing on the 5K course in the Canal District, a layout planned in conjunction with the Worcester Police Department.

“The move to Polar Park allows us not only give our returning attendees a new experience in the city’s new ballpark, but it also gives us an opportunity to welcome new community members to come together in the name of health,” Kerrigan added. “As Polar Park’s inaugural 5k, we’re also thrilled to continue our work with our friends at the WooSox to help build a healthier Worcester for all.”

To register, visit

Wachusett Mountain race returns

It was mentioned there’s a busy weekend coming for Central Mass Striders two weeks from now. CMS brings back the Wachusett Mountain Race on Aug. 8, with 3-mile and 10K options.

The 28th running is part of the USATF-New England Mountain Circuit 2021. The 3-mile race is a paved road climb to the top of Wachusett Mountain, with the 10K continuing down off summit on paved roads, then fire roads and trail back to the ski lodge. Cash prizes will be awarded to winners of the 3-mile race (“King and Queen of the Mountain”) and the 10K run.

Race officials note that this year’s race is cupless for the first time. The water stops will be at the same locations, but only large water jugs will be available to refill runners’ own bottle or cup, the same system used at the recent Mount Washington race. There will be bottled water supplied at the finish, along with light refreshments at the base of the mountain.

Race time is earlier this year, going off at 8 a.m., with race-day registration at 7 at the ski lodge. The entry fee is $25, before ascending to $35 after Aug. 1. Plans are for the Wachusett Mountain race to return to Memorial Day weekend in 2022.

For more information and to register online, visit