Hot treats top first West Boylston Athletic Association 5K

WEST BOYLSTON – Braving teenage wind temperatures, 85 runners/walkers crossed the finish line in the inaugural West Boylston Athletic Association (WBAA) Hot Cocoa 5K Run/Walk on Sunday morning January 23 at Goodale Park .

William Kleinschmidt of Needham crossed the finish line first, winning the 3.1 mile race in 19:55. In second place, Grayson McDowell finished in 20:01.

Kleinschmidt, 22, a recent graduate of the University of Massachusetts Amherst, was introduced to running by a friend of his.

“It was a fun race,” Kleinschmidt said. “It was a hilly race, but the weather wasn’t bad. I do a lot of running and ran a race yesterday so it was a double race weekend.

“In college I raced in a club team, but not in the college team,” he said. “I love running and I especially like the challenge of the different races.”

The first woman to finish the race – and third overall – was Jennifer Pajer, who finished the 5km in 20:25.

Pajer, 26, who lives in Boston, is the daughter of West Boylston High School softball coach John Pajer, who also finished running.

“It was (the race) good,” said Jennifer Pajer. “I live in Boston in an area that doesn’t have a lot of hills, so it was a bit more hilly. I thought the hardest part was the (cold) air burning your lungs, but it It’s winter and I’m a bit used to it.

Jennifer Pajer, like Kleinschmidt, ran for a club team at U-Mass Amherst. She is an accountant for a fitness watch company.

“Running club was super fun,” Jennifer Pajer said. “My running improved a lot during my studies. I thought it was a good cause, and my dad and sister ran too. We are a running family.

Jennifer Pajer’s sister, Michelle Pajer, finished second in women’s and fourth overall.

The 5km scenic route starts at the high school and goes around the Wachusett Reservoir, past the Old Stone Church and ending at Goodale Park.

According to its website, the WBAA’s goal is to support all athletic teams at West Boylston Middle High School, providing fundraising activities and programs for students, families, and the community throughout the school year.

Runners listen to instructions from Race Director Andrea Allen just before the start of the first West Boylston Athletic Association Hot Cocoa Run/Walk on Sunday January 23.

More than 100 people signed up for the race, according to race director Andrea Allen.

“We hope this (run/walk) will be an annual event,” Allen said. “We want to raise funds for the sports association for school sports, and provide scholarships for high school graduates, who play sports in high school.

“We wanted to do something outdoors, that wouldn’t necessarily be under COVID protocols, and we wanted something athletic,” she said. “We hope to see everyone again next year.”

Like a Hallmark holiday movie, there was hot chocolate everywhere.

Each runner received an 11-ounce WBAA Hot Cocoa Run souvenir mug filled with Swiss Miss hot chocolate. Male and female winners received a 30-ounce cup of Liquid Chocolate Delight.

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