The agate shows that Stratford senior Ryan Duffy finished 78th at the SWC cross-country championships on Oct. 18. But his route was a little different from the 3.1 miles everyone else ran at Bethel.
The Stratford Board of Education honored Duffy earlier this week for helping another runner who he found downed off the course, to the left side of a gravel path.
“I didn’t see him moving. He was face-down,” Duffy said. “I said, ‘hey, what’s wrong?’ I didn’t get any response. I got help as fast as I could, ran back up the path toward the spectators. I was waving, signaling to get help.”
Duffy wasn’t sure if it was a parent or a trainer who he flagged down, but he got across what he’d seen and turned the situation over.
And then he went back to racing.
“He was still always in my mind, hoping he was OK,” Duffy said.
Bethel is “the toughest race course around,” Stratford coach Moe Scioletti said.
Duffy remembered “just a perfect running day, no clouds in the sky, not too hot or cold.” Scioletti called it a “sun-drenched” day, maybe a little warmer than a runner might prefer.
New Milford’s Eli Nahom won the race in 16:22.14, 24 seconds better than anyone else. Scioletti estimated that Duffy was in the top third of the pack of 91 finishers; 30th place ran a 17:59.41.
So that’s about when Scioletti expected Duffy. When others came in ahead of him, Scioletti was surprised. When he and Duffy’s parents waited a couple of more minutes, he said he got a little worried.
Duffy finally arrived three minutes later with a story.
“He’s a kid who wants to win, trains hard, everything you could ask for,” Scioletti said. “But he knows it’s not all about winning championships. He just couldn’t go by without stopping.”
Duffy said that sense comes from his parents, that he was “raised to always help out, to do the right thing even when no one’s watching.” Scioletti points out that Duffy is an Eagle Scout.
“He’s an outstanding young man,” Stratford athletic director Bob Baird said. “When Moe told me what happened — the kid does the right thing all the time. He did a great thing. We’ve got a lot of great kids around here.”
Duffy said he hadn’t spoken with the other runner.
“I still don’t even know his name,” Duffy said. “All I know he was from Masuk and he had a severe case of dehydration. That’s all I really know. I just hope he’s still OK and good for states.”
Masuk coach Sean McDonald was unavailable to comment.
The class meets are Saturday at Wickham Park in Manchester.
Stratford’s Board of Education honored the Stratford senior at its meeting Monday night.
“I was very honored and very thankful for the recognition given,” Duffy said. “I didn’t need the recognition. I was happy to help.”