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It was in early July that I heard the name Dawn Varnum for the first time. She had just run in my favorite race, the Wellfleet 5 Miler, and placed second for women – first in her age group. A month later I saw her at the Brew Run and this time she crossed the line in third place, but again first in her age group.

At the after-race party I talked to Dawn and her husband Matt for a few minutes. I found out she had run cross country at URI for Lori Feit. She was Dawn Sandbloom of Eastham back then. Now, 10 years later, she is doing more running than ever. I congratulated her and included some of her Brew Run pics on

Just a week ago I was reviewing the results of the Tufts 10K. And there, just a few places after NA standout Jessica Blake, was Dawn. This time she was 60th (19th in the 30-39 age group). So, when I knew I’d be at the Wellfleet Shuck and Run 5K this past weekend I was hoping she would be there so I could find out more about this “new find” on my running radar screen.

She was! As usual she was smiling and talking with friends. Only her location and running gear gave away the fact she was going to compete. Dawn just looked like a local (which she is) out socializing (which she was).

The cold weather didn’t seem to faze her and by the time she cruised through Main Street she had left all of the female competition and most of the men in the dust. Actually it had rained heavily the night before so I guess you could say she left them in the mist.

Dawn went on to win in 19:21 and only seven males ran faster. Is this why she is worthy of being “in focus” this week? Actually, it is what she represents. Dawn is a working mother who also finds time to do that thing she loves most – run. Dawn sneaks in between twenty and thirty miles a week. Although she doesn’t get to the track much she manages to do some treadmill speed-work. Lately she has volunteered to help first year Nauset cross country coach Bambi Thompson get an eager young team ready for competition.

When I asked Dawn why she does it she hesitated and said “I guess I just like it. Maybe it’s the adrenaline rush.” In retrospect I’m sure she can find more reasons than that. But this being Oyster Festival Weekend she had other things on her mind. So I let Dawn get back to her friends, husband and children Claire and Aiden.

Besides those races listed above Dawn ran great at the John Gray 10K, and posted equally good results at the Nauset Inc. Cape Cod 5K and the Women Running Wild. Though she couldn’t name her next race I’m sure we’ll be seeing more of her results soon. After all, she “just likes it”.