‘Chasing’ a good cause at Tod’s Point

The sunflowers were spread about in the picnic area of Tod’s Point, as per usual tradition.

And the positive spirit of Susannah Chase emanated along with the dignified grace of the Chase family, as is always the case every year when Susannah’s Run takes place in October.

Runners, ranging in age from the toddlers who partook in the half-mile Kids Race to the senior citizens in the 5K main race, ran their respective races Sunday morning to celebrate the life of the late Susannah Chase and raise funds for the Susannah Chase Memorial Scholarship Fund.

College scholarships from the fund are awarded to Greenwich High School girls who share the same passion for sports and the outdoors as Susannah Chase, a Greenwich native and former Stamford resident who was murdered in Boulder, Colo., in 1997 when she was a 23-year-old student at the University of Colorado. Diego Olmos Alcalde was convicted for the slaying in June 2009 and sentenced to life in prison.

The event began in 1998, so it was the 15th running of Chase on Sunday. Many members from a couple of generations of the Chase family ran in either of the two races.

John Mass of Old Greenwich won the main 5K race last year, and he defended his title this year with a time of 16:33 over the cross-country course that consisted of paved roads, trails and sandy beach.

Of utmost importance, beyond the proceeds raised for the scholarship fund, is that this is always a positive day for the ever-classy Chase family.

“This day is probably the best day of the year for our family,” said Julie Chase, Susannah’s mother.

“One of our granddaughters was just saying, ‘I love the fall because that’s when we have Susannah’s Run, Halloween and my birthday,’” said Chase, referring to her granddaughter, Delaney Chase, who celebrates her 12th birthday Oct. 21.

Susannah’s Run always takes place this time of the year because it is around the time of Susannah’s birthday, Oct. 10.

“I think of Susannah’s Run as a holiday,” Julie Chase said. “It really is a family day for us. It really is an exciting day for us. It’s so nice. The thing I love about it is seeing the different people here every year. Some of them I haven’t seen in 10 or 15 years. This is just a wonderful way to remember her.”

All four of Julie’s children — Carrie Reynolds, Christy Chase, Stephen Chase, and Doug Chase — and all 10 of Julie’s grandchildren were at the event. Susannah was the youngest of the family’s five children.

Susannah’s Run is the eighth event in the Volvo of Stamford Greenwich Cup Series of 10 athletic events that is presented by Threads and Treads in cooperation with the Greenwich Department of Parks and Recreation.

Mickey Yardis, the event director and owner of Threads and Treads, donated many items from his sporting goods store for prizes.

Mary Dolan Zengo is an avid runner who coaches Delaney Chase.

Dolan Zengo came down from her hometown of Wilton; she was the women’s champion and fifth overall.

She has been excellent on the area racing circuit for many years and has garnered many trophies, medals and prizes.

But there was no doubt that none of those previous post-race awards were quite as special as the sunflowers that were presented to her, simply because of what this day and this race is about.

“There’s something very special about these. Look at these sunflowers. You look at them and it’s almost like Susannah’s smiling at you,” Dolan Zengo said. “The Chases are just great, salt-of-the-earth people. They really, really are. They do this and they celebrate her life. I’ve lost a brother, so I get it.”

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