Background on John
John R. Carson, son of John and Linda Carson and brother of Laurie Carson, grew up in Chelmsford. As he matured he developed interest and skills in running, scouting, and church.
In his sophomore year at Chelmsford High School (CHS), his Spring Track Team completed a very successful season, and John was a strong performer. In addition to breaking the meet record at the statewide Red Auerbach Invitational in 1000 yd., he came within one second of the CHS mile record.
That fall, even though he was only a junior, he was chosen co-captain of the cross-country team. He was undefeated in Merrimack Valley Conference meets and placed 7th out of over 200 runners in the Manhattan Invitational.
Sadly this all came to an end during his junior year when, on December 30, 1987, he was hit by a train while on a practice run with his Winter Track Team.
In addition to running, John also excelled in scouting. As a member of Boy Scout Troop 74, he completed all the requirements for his Eagle Scout badge before he died. This prestigious award was presented posthumously to his parents in February 1988.
John was also an active member of Central Congregational Church in Chelmsford.
After his death, John’s parents and sister sought to find ways to perpetuate his memory in a positive way. They established the John R. Carson Memorial Scholarship, which awards an annual scholarship to a CHS senior boy distance runner. More details are provided below. They also award a campership each spring to a boy in John’s Boy Scout Troop 74 to cover the cost of one week at Camp Wah-Tut-Ka summer camp.
John’s family and friends turned an overgrown vacant lot adjacent to Central Congregational Church into a beautiful park. Named the John R. Carson Memorial Park, it was dedicated in 1990. Included is a gazebo where John’s sister Laurie was married. Members of the public enjoy the year-round beauty of the park, and it is a popular location for photos on special occasion as well as weddings.
In 1988 the Chelmsford School Committee named the track at Chelmsford High School in John’s memory.
History of this race
Since the 1970s, runners have taken up the challenge of racing down North Road from the Drum Hill area to Chelmsford Center before the 4th of July parade takes over the road. Early races saw a few hundred runners, but in the last few years the numbers have steadily risen to over 2,000 registered contestants. Spectators line and cheer along the entire route.
The Chelmsford Jaycees sponsored the 4th of July road race for several years prior to John’s death. The following July 4th (1988)they dedicated the race to John’s memory. Two years later, Sully’s Ice Cream (managed by Race Director Bob Sullivan) and the Chelmsford Recreation Commission picked up sponsorship. This continued until 1997, when lead sponsorship was taken over by Sullivan Farms Ice Cream, which is owned by Bob and Maryann Sullivan. Bob continued as Race Director, and has maintained that position ever since.
In 1990 and 1991 an additional race (called the John Carson Memorial Road Race) was held in late July. Both were co-sponsored by the Courthouse Racquetball and Fitness Club and the Chelmsford Jaycees. Included were a 5-mile run and a shorter (2 or 2 ½-mile) fun run. Dave Dunham won both 5-mile runs.
The John R. Carson 4th of July Road Race is as much a family event as a racing challenge. Town spirit and family fun are marks of this race. “It’s a fun, fun day,” says Race Director Bob Sullivan, himself a runner. He has found that all ages take on the challenge, appreciate the crowd support, and come back for more the following year.
Each year’s male and female winners of the 4th of July Road Race are listed below. Complete race results from 1995 to date available on-line on www.CoolRunning.com
Note:Red indicates course record.
|Male and female winners of John R. Carson 4th of July Road Race|
|Year||Number of runners||Male winner||Female winner|
|1989||300||Dave Dunham||9:32||Jennifer Long||11:59|
|1990||284||Dave Cremin||9:19||Jennifer Long||11:44|
|1991||348||John Doherty||9:22||Jennifer Long||11:43|
|1992||450||John Doherty||9:30||Kara Molloy||11:27|
|1993||425||Jayme Fishman||9:22||Kara Molloy||10:58|
|1994||605||Erik Nadeau||9:13||Kara Molloy||10.52|
|1995||550||Marzuki Stevens||9:18||Kara Molloy||11:08|
|1996||955||Chris McDermott||9:20||Kara Molloy||10:56|
|1997||1,091||Sean Livingston||9:10||Lesley Lehane||10:18|
|1998||1,127||Geoff Nickerson||9:13||Lesley Lehane||10:06|
|1999||1,127||Dave Dunham||9:23||Kara Molloy||11:17|
|2000||1,368||Ryan Carrara||9:17||Kara Molloy||10:55|
|2001||1,579||Geoff Nickerson||9:12||Lisa Senatore||11:09|
|2002||1,467||Geoff Nickerson||9:13||Christy Martin||11:06|
|2003||1,483||Dave Hinga||9:20||Mollie DeFrancesco||10:49|
|2004||1,481||Darin Shearer||8:57||Atalelech Ketema||10:20|
|2005||1,517||Andy Powell||9:07||Maurica Powell||10:34|
|2006||1,718||Nephi Tyler||9:13||Kara (Molloy) Haas||11:10|
|2007||1,731||Patrick Tarpy||8:50||Rebecca Donahue||10:11|
|2008||1,645||Shadrack Kijai||9:05||Claudia Camargo||10:27|
|2009||1,728||Ruben Sanca||9:20||Marisa Ryan||10:32|
|2010||1,766||Louie Luchini||8:50||Andrea Walkonen||10:16|
|2011||1,934||Brian Gagnon||9:15||Courtney Baldwin||11:17|
|2012||2,140||Ruben Sanca||9:10||Jennifer Donovan||10:34|
|2013||2,231||Jeff Viega||9:24||Karen Roa||10:43|