Bob Bright set the original Classic 10K course in 1981. He was part of the team that perpetuated the race in 2006. Bob passed away unexpectedly on July 11, 2009. We will miss him.
Bob with friends Alex Smith, Frank Shorter and Frank Giannino.
Bob Bright loved racing and loved the Classic 10K. After Bob died in 2009, the Classic 10K Road Race Board of Directors worked with Middletown High School to establish the Robert G. Bright Classic 10K Memorial Scholarships. The scholarships are awarded to two graduating MHS seniors, one female and one male, who have been members of the Middletown High School Cross-Country or Indoor/Outdoor Track Teams, plan to attend college and have a passion for running longer distances. Applicants are asked to submit an essay that shares their passion for running and describes how running promotes good character in the school community and has helped him/her to contribute to the greater community.
Kevin Gleason of the Times Herald Record wrote the following July 2009 article about Bob:
Almost 30 years ago, Bob Bright was among a handful of people brainstorming an event for Middletown that would properly celebrate the Times Herald-Record's 25th anniversary. Bright suggested a 10K road race, and the Orange Classic was born.
"That was his idea,'' said Frank Giannino, a friend of Bright's for 34 years. "That's his legacy."
The Orange Classic quickly turned into a world-class event with top-notch fields and annual appearances by Olympic champion Frank Shorter, who grew up in Middletown. The Orange Classic was discontinued after the 2005 race. But Bright helped form an offshoot race, The Classic, and became one of its five race directors.
Folks are remembering Bright for his vast contributions to the races, as well as to the local running scene in general, after his death on Saturday. He was 57. "He loved the Orange Classic and he loved the running community,'' Giannino said. "He was still coming up with great ideas" for the race.
Bright helped found another popular local race, the Kingston Classic 10K. He and his late friend Bill Glatz opened a running store in 1978 in New Paltz, the first of its kind in the area.
Bright graduated from Middletown High, where he was a standout soccer player. But he was a terrific runner, as well, clocking 2:37:14 in the 1978 Boston Marathon.
"He really cared a lot about the running community,'' Giannino said. "He really had a profound effect on the running scene in this area. He just loved running.''