Trumbull runners take in state one race at a time

Carolyn Shea has run in 40 towns in her quest to reach 100.
Carolyn Shea has run in 40 towns in her quest to reach 100.

Carolyn Shea, 27, began running in 2012, and completed her first race simply to fulfill the goal of completing a 5K. “I didn’t train very much,” she recalls.

A handful of years later, Shea has run in about 40 different towns or cities in the state. She is the Trumbull ambassador for the Run 169 Towns Society, a group of runners who strive to complete a timed race in all of Connecticut’s towns and cities.

“It’s been a lot of fun,” said Shea. “I think the most fun thing about the club is getting to see corners of the state I would never get to see if I wasn’t in the club.”

Shea has also completed numerous races outside of Connecticut, including marathons at Disney World in Orlando and in Denver.

With training for marathons and attempting to complete races in all of the state’s towns, comes running in all types of weather. Shea trained for her first marathon last winter and recalls running 19 miles in 19 degree weather.

In two years, Trumbull’s Gordana Thompson has checked more than 50 towns off the list.

“I still have a long way to go,” Thompson said, adding that what she’s accomplished has exposed her to some areas of the state she might not otherwise have seen.

“I’ve been to places in Connecticut where I would never have gone,” Thompson said.

A race that stands out for Thompson is one in February in Washington, Conn., because it was so chilly.

“It was so cold my eyebrows and my hair froze,” Thompson said.

A mother of three with a job who is working toward earning a master’s degree, Thompson has plenty to keep her busy but is striving to run in all of the towns when she can.

“When it happens it happens,” she said, adding that she’s getting her children more involved with running as well.

Lisa Adriani is a former athlete at St Joseph High School. Adriani, 40, ran cross country in college and stopped running upon graduating in 1998. She got back into running five years ago, but has really become more dedicated since joining the group.

One of the more unusual parts of being in the Run 169 Towns Society is that when participants reach their 100th town, they wear tutus to commemorate the occasion.

“They like to have fun and not take it too seriously. Guys do it, women do it, some people have their tutus decorated,” Adriani said.

Sherry Boyd, 53, ran the Santa Made Me Do It race in Bethlehem a year ago and came across some Run 169 Towns members. “They just seemed like an amazing group so I joined shortly thereafter,” said Boyd, who has racked up close to 40 towns in a short time.

But Boyd, who has been a runner all her life, anticipates taking some time to check all 169 off her list given she is an avid off-road runner and triathlete. Although some of Connecticut’s races are trail runs, most are 5K road races.

“The group is especially good for new runners and people who are not as outgoing as others, since it is an easy way to make friends with like interests,” Boyd said. “You’re never alone at a race if you’re part of the group.”

For information on the Run 169 Towns Society, which has the slogan “Do Every Blessed Town in Connecticut,” visit