The Rotary Club of Bath will hold its newly renamed annual 5K at 9 a.m. this Saturday at Morse High School. The George Dole Bath Rotary 4-Way 5K, named after longtime Rotarian and accomplished runner George Dole, will honor the Bath native’s legacy while raising money for orphans in Cambodia, according to President and Race Director Michael Princiotta.

“Running is something that was really near and dear to him,” Princiotta said of Dole, who died last June at the age of 89. “We just thought, what better way to commemorate him?”

George Dole competes in 2017 wearing the same shorts he wore when he competed against Bannister in 1954. Contributed / Rotary Club of Bath

Members of the Rotary Club remember Dole for his approachable intelligence and his ability to give stirring invocations at the start of club meetings. Yet in addition to the smarts that earned Dole a string of academic achievements at Morse High School, Yale, Harvard and Oxford, he also possessed significant athletic gifts.

In 1954, while studying Hebrew at Oxford, Dole won the Oxford-Cambridge mile, according to Caelie Smith, executive secretary of the Rotary Club. That victory earned him one of six spots in an even more famous event: the race at Iffley Road Track when Roger Bannister became the first person to break the 4-minute mile barrier.

Decades later, after working as a pastor and teacher, Dole regularly competed in and won his age group in local races, sometimes wearing the same shorts he wore on the track with Bannister in 1954, Smith said.

“To call George Dole an accomplished man would be an understatement,” Princiotta said.


The race will fund the education of orphans in Cambodia, a cause that Dole championed, according to Rich Cromwell, the Rotarian behind the scholarship fund.

After selling his housing business in 2005, Cromwell took up long distance cycling and began traveling all over the world. A chance encounter with Cambodian village children living in poverty changed his life, he said.

Competitors line up for the start of the 2019 edition of the race. Contributed / Rotary Club of Bath

“I was looking for adventure, and I happened upon these kids,” Cromwell said. “I just fell in love with this family of kids and their caretakers.”

When Cromwell arrived home, he asked the Rotary Club for money to help him return to Cambodia to build clean water systems.

He ended up raising over $300,000 dollars through GoFundMe and other sources, which he used to build an orphanage with a learning center and library. While most of the funds didn’t come from the Rotary Club, he credits encouragement from the group, especially Dole, with motivating him to keep working.

Today, the Cambodian Kids Scholarship Fund pays for community college tuition and supplies for six students working on degrees in programs like accounting and engineering, Cromwell said. The race proceeds will help more students from the orphanage go to college, which costs about $1,000 per year in Cambodia.


“We’re working every day trying to make sure these kids get an education,” Cromwell said. “The good that’s going to be done by that money is going to last 100 years.”

In addition to a shirt and race bag, top runners on Saturday will take home a little money on their own, according to Smith. The fastest male and female racers will earn cash prizes of $100, with smaller awards for age group winners.

The entry fee, $25 for adults and $10 for students aged 18 and under, will buy access to a scenic course through downtown Bath that Smith said will prove refreshing for walkers, challenging for runners and fun for all.

“Bath is not flat,” Smith said. “There’s some ups and downs, and it finishes on and up, which is a challenge. But you know runners – they like challenges.”

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