The runners came far and wide from all across New England for the 29th annual James Joyce Ramble Sunday, and so too did a crowd that was expected to hover around 10,000 along the race route and at the Endicott Estate, site of the start and finish lines.
With so many in attendance – be it to run, to watch, to volunteer, or to experience – the Endicott Estate’s yard looked like a town itself inside of Dedham. And like any other community, several roles were spread out amongst the Ramble’s population.
More than 2,000 people ran in the literary-themed 10K this year. Some were passionate and dedicated runners, others wanted to give a 10K a try, and still others chose to walk the route be it for a cause or for leisure.
John Gorvin and Jon Davey, members of the Somerville Road Runners, fit into the first category. They said the race was a great tune-up for the summer race season. Davey was running the race a fourth time, Gorvin a fifth. The race itself is attraction enough to make the drive down I-93 from Somerville, they said, but the fact that Harpoon Brewery was on site serving beer really gets their attention.
“I like 10K’s and I like beer,” said Gorvin.
Henry Gough, the owner of Total Image Day Spa, has worked the Ramble’s microphones for 15 years, a role he rehashes at several community events every year. “I guess it’s the ham in me,” he said.
Gough said he enjoys watching East Street upon the start of the race, as the herd of runners takes off toward Dedham Square. “It’s a blast every year,” he said.
Nancy Samya used to run the race every year. Now, as the volunteer coordinator, she runs the race in another way. Her scenario – graduating from the race to a volunteer role – is one of the most common reasons volunteers join up, she said. The other top reasons? They have a spouse or parent in the race and want to help the cause, or they’re generally active in the New England running community and regularly look for ways to play a role within it.
More than 100 volunteers would be helping out at the 2012 Ramble, Samya said.
Dianna Rice first donned in Irish period dress and brought a James Joyce book on the race course in 1997. She’s been back every year since to play the role again. This year, she read from “Dubliners” at the finish line. “It’s exciting,” she said. “You get to see the runners finish up.
Rice said “Dubliners” probably provided the easiest Joyce work to recite while “Finnegans Wake” has, in the past, been the most challenging to read from.
The Ramble is unique to Rice as a race for actors to participate in, but she imagines other road races could incorporate actors similarly. For instance, she said, it may make sense to have revolutionary characters along the Boston Marathon route.
At the Booth
Businesses and organizations manned tables and booths on the Endicott Estate’s grounds, including Whole Foods, Harpoon Brewery, Dedham Patch, Dunkin' Donuts and many more. Janet Holmes of the Dedham Junior Women’s Club sold raffle tickets to support the Dedham Public Art Project. She said the presence at the table had allowed her and the organization to spread awareness of the artistic bunny project. “So they’ll know what’s going on when all of a sudden there’s a psychedelic rabbit showing up,” she said.
For many in attendance, the day’s big event happens before the Ramble even begins. Ted and Stephanie MacAusland, who moved from Dedham to Westwood four years ago but still come out every year, and they don’t run. Instead, said Ted, The North Star Children’s Ramble featuring five races for kids under 12 is the day’s “highlight.”
“The kids look forward to it every year,” added Staphanie. The MacAusland have three kids who ran in the races: Billy, 4; Ted, Jr., 6; and Robin, 8.
After the runners cross the finish line, Dennis Brennan has provided entertainment for five years. The Sunday afternoon crowd, he said, allows him to interact with a different audience from the bar and lounge audiences he’s more accustomed to. The band surrounding Brennan each year rotates but he remains a constant in the post-race festivities.
In the last week of planning for the massive event, Martin Hanley - who conceived of the Ramble while reading through "Finnegans Wake," legend has it - is in constant motion. Set up alone takes most of Friday, Saturday and Sunday morning. Hanley called himself a perfectionist, so he may stress himself out in the weeks leading up to the race. But feedback is generally very positive once all is said and done, and this year was no different, he said.
"The bottom line is that we're getting people from all over New England to get up at the crack of dawn on a Sunday or get a hotel room on Saturday," he said. "Then they drive back three or four hours, and they come back every year. That's pretty good validation."
Hanley said the Ramble's volunteers deserve most of the credit for the event's success over the last 29 years, and of course the race couldn't function without them. But it will be he who gets right back to work this week, closing the door on this year's race by writing thank you notes, and setting the stage for the 30th Ramble by beginning to reach out to sponsors.
Just like one may say when trying to get through the first 20 pages of Ulysses, the rambling never seems to end.