From its inception in 1979 with 650 runners to 2009 with over 2400 total participants, the Branford Road Race has grown to become one of the premier running events in the northeast. Ray Figlewski has been the guiding force for the race since the beginning.
Tonight’s inductee grew up in Wallingford, Connecticut. He attended Notre Dame High School of West Haven where he participated in football and baseball. Playing under legendary Coach Ray Tellier, Figlewski started at halfback for three seasons for the Green Knights football squad. During that time span, Notre Dame defeated Hamden three times in the “Green Bowl.” In his senior year, the team won the District League Championship and was ranked second in the state. Ray was selected as a member of the All District team and he was honored as a National Football Foundation Scholar Athlete.
On the baseball diamond, as a senior, Ray again started for Coach Tellier in centerfield and was also selected All District. He was also talented and accomplished in the classroom. Ray was a member of the National Honor Society and he served as the freshman, junior and senior class president.
After graduating from high school in 1966, Ray attended Boston College where he graduated with a BA in mathematics. He played freshman football before getting injured in the spring game. In 1968, he was a member of the inaugural Boston College rugby team under Coach Ken Daly. Amazingly, 42 years later rugby is still firmly entrenched in the BC tradition with both men’s and women’s teams and Daly is still at Boston College where he has coached for all those years as an unpaid volunteer. Ray went on to play for three seasons.
A versatile athlete, Ray began to run competitively after college. He has competed in hundreds of road races and he has completed three marathons with a personal best of 2:58 in 1982.
In 1979, along with his close friend Dick Wainman, Ray created the Shoreline Road Race which he later renamed the Branford Road Race. From the beginning, Ray and Dick had three objectives for the race; promote exercise, provide an event that would unite the community, and create a runner friendly venue. Year after year competitors from all over New England travel to Branford on Father’s Day to take part in the race, fun run, and health walk. The race has become known for strong organization, a beautiful course, thousands of enthusiastic spectators lining the route, abundant food, and a real family atmosphere.
A strong proponent of Branford, Ray has worked tirelessly throughout his career to serve the local community. From 1993 to the present, he has been involved with the Rotary Club. He has also been involved with the Branford Festival Committee for over twenty years as well as the Vision Committee, the Economic Development Commission, as well as many others. Professionally, Ray along with his father Ray Sr. and brother Jack created and ran two family retail businesses with as many as twelve locations and 120 employees throughout Connecticut for over 30 years.
In his personal life, Ray married his wife Anne in 1975 and the couple moved to Branford in 1976. Anne and Ray have two daughters, Corinne and Monica. Corinne swam at BHS and she also swam for Holy Cross College and graduated with a degree in Spanish/pre-med. Monica was a star softball pitcher for the Hornets and she later graduated from Bentley College with degrees in finance and economics. Both daughters are working and residing in the greater Boston area.