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By Stephen Press
Hometown Weekly Staff
On Saturday morning, Kevin Bernier stands in front of the American Legion building in Dover. At his feet, his two sons, Tyler and Alex, restlessly mill about. They, like their father, are wearing race bibs. "We're here to run," announces the eldest Bernier.
This is the second annual Dover Dash, just one of several attractions at this year's Dover Days. The Dash's main event, a 5K run, is scheduled for 10:30. Scheduled first, however, is a Fun Run for kids at 10 a.m. A loop around Dover's town green, the Fun Run is open to kids ages three through nine.
Enter the two Bernier boys.
"I've run a bunch of races before - a couple marathons," says Kevin, looking down at his sons, "and these guys are starting to get into racing now. They did the Flutie 5K last year, and now they're going to do the Fun Run this year in Dover. They love it. They want to do it, so we just sign them up for races when they're around and we can do them."
They're far from the only ones to be enjoying the day, though.
"My wife and I have done several 5Ks," says Nuno Gonçalves, himself sporting a racing bib. "We wanted to have our daughter join us. This will be her first run for kids. She's going to do the run, then we're going to do the [5K] after." Gonçalves' daughter shyly hides behind her father's legs as he speaks. "Emma," says her father with a hint of pride, "is doing her first run."
"We try to get the little kids out here with the Fun Run, then some older people can get into the 5K," explains Stephen Harte, who teaches at the Chickering School and coaches the D-S cross country team.
"The Dover Dash is an attempt to bring back the historical Road Race at the Dover Days Fair," he continues, recounting the story of the Dash's inception. "There have been a few incarnations of that race. Way back when I used to run, it was the Dover Police Chase, which was a five-mile race. I believe Dover Days was in the spring at that point. It was moved to the fall and they had a Pumpkin Race, which was a 5K, and then it went away for a while. Parks and Rec came to the cross country team and said: 'Would you guys be interested in helping to bring back the road race at Dover Days?' We said 'Yeah, absolutely.'"
"Last year was the first year," he adds. "We renamed it the Dover Dash and made it a 5K."
It's catching on quickly, too - this year's incarnation is drawing even more runners than last year's. "We are hoping to get about 50 [runners] in each, which is good growth," says Harte. "Last year, we had 16 in the 5K and probably about 15 or 20 kids do the Fun Run." As smiling Fun Runners begin to assemble at the starting line on this beautiful morning, it is not difficult to see why.
"It's just a great community event," Harte succinctly states. "It's the Town of Dover coming out here together, having a good time."