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First Library Race is One for the Books

Youth was served at the first running of the Between the Libraries 5K in Norwalk on Sunday, but veteran runners took top honors in an event that benefited the Norwalk Library's Children's Program.

Matt Cross, 47, was the first across the finish line of the course that followed the city bike path from the library's main branch to the SoNo branch and back. "I've been running races for 25 years, but this is the first time I've ever won one," Cross said, after finishing in 19:35, 20 seconds ahead of runner-up Wesley Oliveira.

The gap was longer to the third-place finisher, but the real surprise was that it was also the first woman, 42-year-old Liz Herbert of Darien. Her time of 20:54, as well as those of the two men ahead of her, seemed a bit slow until it was determined the trio went off course in Clamshell Park in SoNo, adding perhaps 100 meters to the course. "That just means we'll all run faster next year," said Dorothy Williams, who was the third female finisher.

Herbert thought the best part of the course was the section that took runners through the playground behind the Stepping Stones Museum. "I used to take my kids there," she said.

Children's librarian Vicki Oatis, who came up with the idea for the race as well as its unique route, was ecstatic with the turnout, which numbered 170 finishers. "Considering we had less than a dozen two weeks out, it's great," she said. "It certainly exceeded my expectations, and we raised over $2,000 for the Children's Program."

That figure was boosted when Target, one of the sponsors, provided a $3,000 grant to the library for next year. "It was a great event that I can't wait to tackle again," Oatis said.

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