Auger Named Interim Director Of Falmouth Road Race
By: Rich Maclone
Matt Auger nearly died running the Falmouth Road Race and now he lives for it.
Auger, 42, was named the interim director of the Falmouth Road Race last week after a shake-up at the race saw the former race directors leave office. John and Lucia Carroll both retired from their posts while Rich and Kathy Sherman resigned. The Road Race’s board of directors voted Auger in to fill the position of race director on an interim basis. Auger said that he hopes to earn the position on a full-time basis.
Auger, who grew up in Falmouth and now lives in Mashpee, nearly came to an early end when he was 17 years old. He was almost finished when he crossed the finish line of the 1988 race as the winner of his age group, which earned him the prize of a brand-new bicycle, something he desperately needed after a car accident shortly before the race had cost him his automobile. “I really, really wanted that bike,” he said with a laugh.
A runner at Falmouth High, Auger went full out on that day, despite not having the right shoes. “I wore waffle racers,” he said. “Any runner who reads this will know that I made a big mistake. I was a dumb kid.”
Auger’s family lived in North Falmouth at the time and his place of employment was at the Falmouth Yacht Club, not far from where he saw his coach, Tim Simpson, ask him if he was okay as he neared the finish line. He crossed the line in the Heights and was ushered quickly to the medical tent, because it was clear that he wasn’t okay.
“They took my temperature—not in the mouth—and it was 105,” he said.
The emergency response technicians on hand dunked him in a tub of ice, despite his objections, and eventually were able to lower his core body temperature to safer levels. “I stuck my head up and asked, ‘but did I win the bike?’ ”
Yes, he won the bike, which was given to him by running legend Frank Shorter during a ceremony later on. “His wife and daughters were all there, and they were all quite attractive, and there I was with blisters all over,” he recalled with a laugh.
Matt Auger has not run another Falmouth Road Race since that day. His absence from Falmouth’s premier event of the summer is not from fear, but from his involvement with the race’s inner workings. He began volunteering with the Road Race Committee in a number of areas the next year and in 1992 was hired to work in the race’s office. In 2000 he was promoted to co-office manager with John Carroll III and then took over that role full time in 2001. He has served in that capacity ever since.
On Wednesday night, though, he got a phone call that changed his life. He was informed by the board of directors that they were going to propose that the current race directors go forward with a succession plan that had been in the works and that his name was going to be brought up to replace them.
“I didn’t sleep that night, and I didn’t sleep on Thursday or Friday night either. I finally got some rest on Saturday night, but a carbon monoxide alarm kept going off in the house,” he said. It turned out the alarm was for real and thankfully he and his wife, Eilis, along with their 3-year-old daughter Mckay and 6-month-old son Grey, are fine.
“It’s been kind of an exciting week,” Auger said.
And the excitement, as far as he’s concerned, is just starting. To say that Auger, who teaches 2nd grade at East Falmouth Elementary School and just recently earned his master’s degree in curriculum and instruction, is pumped up would be a vast understatement. He said that the job done by the former directors was “fantastic,” but he is looking forward to helping the race to grow and excel even more.
“I’m so excited by the opportunity,” he said. “For 20 years I had hoped to be the person who could take over for the incredible job that these people had done and to have the chance is so exciting.”
Auger said that the timing for the change seemed right for the board of directors. The race signed a long-term contract with New Balance this year to take over as the new corporate sponsor. The transition from the former directors to the new one has been running smoothly, Auger said. That seemed to be the case early Wednesday evening as Mrs. Carroll worked behind her desk on details for the race’s annual magazine, despite running late for dinner at a friend’s house.
When the office emptied out, Auger began to knock off several points on a laundry list of ideas that have been running through his mind of where the race can and will go. It’s obvious that he didn’t just begin putting together his thoughts on where the race is, and what it can be.
Among the ideas are adding Falmouth Road Race-operated races at other times in the year. He said that local businesses would really like to see more events held during “shoulder seasons” to help their bottom lines, and he is excited in particular about potentially holding a half-marathon race that could start at one end of the current Falmouth Road Race course, hit its mid-point at the current finish line and then loop back to the start. He also said that he believes there is plenty of room for growth in the FRR’s philanthropic giving, noting that local sports groups, in particular, could use more support. He believes that the prize structure of the race will be amended and that the money for American winners could eventually match that given to the open division, which could help draw more big-name US runners to the race. He also noted that the FRR’s website may have a suggestion box added to it. “I’m open to new ideas and we want to know what our runners think would help make the race even better,” he said.
There’s a lot on his plate, that’s for sure; but he pointed out that he will certainly have plenty of help getting the job done. Along with the support of the former race directors, and the board, the Road Race has hired two administrative assistants and will be adding a new office manager. Once schools let out for the summer the race will also have its staff of college students working in the office to help with the day-to-day operations during the busy season.
“I’ve learned so much watching (the Carrolls and Shermans) over the years and I still have to learn a lot more, but I have enough background to know what I’m doing,” he said.
The 2011 New Balance Falmouth Road Race will be held on Sunday, August 14. Entry instructions for all runners will be available at falmouthroadrace.com on April 20. Falmouth residents and taxpayers will be asked to mail their paper registration forms with documentation proving their residency or taxpayer status. Residents and taxpayers are exempt from the lottery if their entry, check and supporting documents are received by April 30. Residents/taxpayers who miss this deadline will be able to register online and participate in the lottery.
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