My 2021 Run To Home Base Experience – The Training, The Fundraiser, The Race Day

The 2021 Run To Home Base Event was held at Boston’s Fenway Park yesterday. The event, which was held virtually last year due to Covid-19 restrictions, involves a runner or team raising funds for the Home Base Program and then completing either a 5K or 9K run. The funds raised and the awareness raised go to United States Veterans and their families struggling with the invisible wounds of war – anxiety, post traumatic stress disorder, depression – that many servicemen and servicewomen deal after coming home. It is an emotional event, it is a eye-opening concern for military families, and it is was my pleasure and honor to be a part of this event for the 2nd year. Here is a recap on how I got there, the fundraising support I got, and my experience on race day. Thank you to all the United States servicemen and servicewomen, and their families for your service and dedication to our country.

In late March, 2021 I had a nutritional consultation with Wendy Leonard and Rhode Island Nutrition Therapy. Wendy analyzed my diet, made important suggestions as to what I was eating and when, and helped me lose 20+ pounds this Spring. This is where running in the Run to Home Base #2 started for me. Big thanks to Wendy for her knowledge and program. It works, you need to lose weight, contact her!!!

To be honest, I’m not a huge fan of running the streets of Old Baptist Road here in North Kingstown as I approach 50 years old (5 months to go). So, I decided to train in my yard running what I perceived to be the length of running around the base paths on a “big field”. I would plop a tennis ball on a tee, swing and hit like Yaz or Griffey, and then run around the bases in my yard. And with that realized, as I approach 50 years old, I still love hitting pretend doubles and home runs.

Here is my training partner – Rookie the Weim. He loved going out and helping me fetch the tennis balls sprayed mostly to center and left center field. I was never a pull hitter. My other dog, Nora, would cheerlead in the garage out of the sun.

My goal was $500. I was able to raise $620 from family and friends. Thank you to everyone who donated to my fundraising page and know that your money will be well spent in this program!!!

Race day for the Run to Home Base was Saturday, September 25th. 5am departure from North Kingstown, no traffic to speak of and Rachel and I arrived in Boston around 6:30am and to Fenway Park around 6:45am.

Participants and their support teams were asked to enter Gate C on Landsdowne St, across from the House of Blues. The sun had not quite woken up yet and it was very humid for late September. No rain and that was all that mattered to me.

Once inside, Run To Home Base event volunteers had set up a race day table for runners like myself who had not gotten their race packet yet. It was well organized, runners got through the line quickly and then got their race numbers on. My number was 1294. Then, you could visit some of the vendor tents inside Fenway Park or wander out into the bleachers to catch a glimpse of the stadium.

You are not forgotten.

Runners and their families were asked to take a seat for the pre-race ceremonies. I remember this from the first Run To Home Base I did in 2019. Very emotional national anthem. Tom Caron from NESN as the MC. Respected military leaders spoke about what the Home Base program meant to them. MA Governor Charlie Baker had a pre-taped message that played on the centerfield screen. Incredibly moving ceremony!

About 8:30am or so, I made my way out to Jersey Street with the other runners to the starting line. There were runners of all ages and abilities and all of us with a unified message – Thank you to all the Veterans and their families for their dedication. One of the ceremony speakers said it best, and I’ll paraphrase “Every step you take, every drop of sweat you pour, you are doing your part to thank a Veteran today!”

How cool is it to stand on Jersey Street, with all the rich history (past and present) of the Boston Red Sox around you, then jog through Boston, over the Charles River, over to MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), then back over the Charles, down Landsdowne St, touch the Green Monster, say hi to Red Sox reliever Matt Barnes, say hi to Jack Hammond (Executive Director, Home Base) along the way, touch home plate at Fenway Park, then fist pump Red Sox Chairmen Tom Werner? Words cannot describe how cool that was!!!

After touching home plate as the official end of the race for me, I found Rachel in the stands, supporting me as she always does with all my baseball experiences. Big thanks to her for getting up at 4:30am to make the trip up to Boston.

20 lbs. lighter made a big difference in this year’s Run To Home Base 5K. I was able to run a lot this Spring and Summer in preparation for the race. Big thanks to Wendy from RI Nutrition, Rookie the Weim, the donors who generously gave to this important cause, the Run To Home Base volunteers and Boston Police for a safe and well run event, and my wife Rachel for supporting my baseball experiences.

And thank you to the Home Base Program for helping our military men and women and their families as they come home from war, many of them with invisible wounds that need be healed. It was an emotional experience for me and one that I am proud to have been a part of.

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The RIBBE is The Rhode Island Baseball Experience. It is promoting the game of baseball here in the great state of Rhode Island for the entire baseball world to see. The RIBBE is positive stories, photos, videos, and responsible social media posts. The RIBBE is an information resource for families looking for an AAU team or a summer camp or a great place to buy a first baseman’s mitt. The RIBBE is a network of coaches, tournament directors, parents, leagues, and baseball junkies whose passion of the game of baseball is unquestioned. I believe that providing expert analysis, information and directions to ballfields, and coaching advice from some of the top RI baseball minds will help promote the game of baseball here in RI to a whole new level.

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