Thanksgiving Day Road Race tradition going strong

Seven hundred runners will be passing through Derby and Shelton Thursday morning for the eleventh annual Commodore Hull Thanksgiving Day Road Race.

While spots in the popular holiday race were filled by Oct. 4, spectators are always welcome. The race starts at 8 a.m. at the Shelton Farmers Market on Canal Street. This year's race includes runners from 14 states, but the bulk of the runners are from the Valley, Jack Walsh, co-chairman of the Commodore Hull Race Committee said. Shelton Mayor Mark Lauretti is one of 28 "Plankholders" — runners who have participated in every race held.

Jack Ribas, retiring next month as the Executive Director of the Boys and Girls Club, has been named the Honorary Starter for the race, and he will be firing the starter's pistol to begin the race

The Race Committee has raised more than $100,000 in its first decade for the Boys & Girls Club, and this year's proceeds will also go to the Club, Walsh said. The Young Emerging Professionals will also be on hand collecting food for the Spooner House.

This year’s race will be celebrating the 200th anniversary of Commodore Isaac Hull’s heroics in the War of 1812. When Hull attained the rank of captain in the American Navy, he was put in command of the U.S.S. Constitution. On Aug. 19, 1812 the Constitution became engaged in a battle with the Guerriere, an English Navy vessel. Within one half hour, the Constitution had won the battle, making it the first naval win for the U.S. during the War of 1812.

This year's T-shirt, designed by Signs Unlimited in Derby, features a caricature of Commodore Hull running with the new USS Constitution forever stamp recently issued by the US Postal service in honor of the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812.

There will be several road closures on Thursday, Nov. 22 while the race is taking place. The race begins and ends at the Farmer's Market on Canal Street in Shelton at 8:00 am. During the race Canal Street will be closed to traffic from Wharf, Hill and Cornell Streets. There will be one lane of traffic open on Howe Avenue (Rt. 110) between Cornell Street and Bridge Street. The Bridge between Derby and Shelton will be closed.

In Derby, Main Street (Rt. 34) will be closed between Olivia and Elizabeth Streets. Access to Elizabeth Street from Main Street up to the Derby Public Library at Seymour Avenue will also be limited during the race.

The race begins at 8:00 a.m., and it is anticipated that all runners will be off the course by 9:00 a.m. and all roads reopened to traffic.

In the event of snow, the race may be cancelled or an alternate route used which would not involve closure of state roads. Full information may be found on the race's website at

Greco & Haines and the Valley Community Foundation are two major sponsors of the event.