Sixteen minutes and 28 seconds after the word “Go,” for the start of the 11th annual Dot Day 5K Road Race, Dorchester’s own Eric Mendoza crossed the finish line in first place. Organized by the Dorchester Education Enrichment Program (Project DEEP) and hosted by the Blarney Stone, the run preceded Sunday’s parade and followed a route from Fields Corner to Lower Mills and back.
“I love this race, and the parade afterward,” said Mendoza, having just picked up his fourth Dot Day victory. “I run up and down Dot Ave five to six times a week so I am pretty familiar with the entire course. At the end, I knew the downhill was coming and I was able to kick it into high gear.”
Mendoza is a member of the Greater Boston Track Club. He was followed by Killian Carroll, an Irish-born visitor who was unfamiliar with both the sport and the course. “It was my first-ever race,” said Carroll. “I am over here on holiday from Ireland visiting my friends in Savin Hill. They asked me to join in the race and I said, ‘Yeah, why not, sure.’ I don’t really run but I decided to give it a try. I didn’t know really know how to run the race so I just ran.”
Team MR8 – the group that ran in the Boston Marathon in support of the Martin W. Richard Foundation – showed up in force to run in memory of the eight-year-old boy who lost his life in the 2013 bombings and in celebration of his message of peace.
Team member Katy Kelly was the first female to cross the finish line, ending up in fifth place overall buy completing the course in 19 minutes, 32 seconds. “I always strive to push myself as hard as I can. I strive to do my best,” said Kelly. “It was really special to have a really great presence from local Dorchester residents who were either on the MR8 Team or involved with it through family. It was an honor.”
MR8 team members will wear their yellow MR8 singlets “proudly and honorably” in races taking place “across the country” to promote the foundation, said Kelly.
After the race the Blarney Stone provided food and beverages to the participants and Project DEEP volunteers bestowed medals on the first place finishers according to age group, in addition to the first overall and first Dorchester resident awards, both of which were secured by Mendoza.
“We had over 300 runners, which was a great number of participants for the 5K,” said Beth Connell, executive director of Project DEEP. “The event generates a couple of thousand dollars each year for our academic programs.” The race began 11 years ago and has really been propelled by the generosity of the Blarney Stone and their owners, said Connell. “Being huge community supporters and philanthropists themselves, the amazing people at the Blarney Stone were already in full support of our organization and our impact on the community and were completely ready to help [the] vision come to fruition. Having it on Dorchester Day, was important to both DEEP and the Blarney Stone. It’s the day we celebrate all things Dorchester – the place that we cherish with the people who make us thrive.
“We couldn’t be more grateful that the Blarney Stone saw the vision in hosting the 5K with us from the very beginning. Without a doubt, the event wouldn’t be what it is without them,” said Connell.