Some takeaways from today’s mild, sun spackled, oceanfront, uber competitive USATF-NE GP Championship at the Lone Gull 10K with its home base at Good Harbor Beach in Gloucester.
The course, of course: After a bit of road rage between a female driver, her car, and course participants in 2017 the issue was brought to the town Board, post rage, and given that the 2-mile residential section of the course was mostly on a private road, and there’s a reason we referred every year to the “tony” manses on display, the Board bent to the monied will of the offended rager and a course redirection was needed.
So RD Len Femino extended the oceanfront route straight past the usual residential cutoff and looped it back through a smaller residential section on public road. To make up the missed distance the course was extended 1.2-miles beyond the usual finish, now the 5-mile mark (runners found the new course faster but suffered a psychological “hit” at what was the old finish line knowing there was over a mile remaining).
The new finish line is right on the beachfront preceded by a long straightaway. This led to…
A Crazy Fast Sprint Finish: Ocean State AC sub 4-minute miler Jordan Mann was joined by former Georgetown All American Collin Leibold (pictured on NER’s most recent cover at the Bridge of Flowers 10K) in a 4:38 first mile and they weren’t alone. Louis Serafino of Tracksmith Hare AC (and formerly of The Heartbreakers) was actually pushing the pace. New B.A.A. High Performance Team member Jacob Thomson, 23, was also in the fray. (Photo by FitzFoto/NERunner)
Much more in the next edition of NER but we must fast forward to the denouement. Mann has a step at the top of the long straightaway. Leibold had told him he was hurting a few miles back and had ceded space but when Mann checked the situation…
“I thought Collin was out of it and when I looked back he was sprinting! The guy from the B.A.A. was right with him and the other guy too. I was so fired up after seeing that.”
Mann may have been the last to sprint, but it served him well as he stopped the clock at 29:39, the same time given Leibold. Thomson closed in 29:41 with Serafini at 29:43. The BAA’s Jonas Hampton rounded out the top-5 in 30:15, with Whirlaway’s Ruben Sanca—who just ran 2:21 in Berlin—in 6th at 30:33.
The top 4 finishers exceeded the previous “event” best of 30:11 set by the BAA’s Brian Harvey that had eclipsed the previous mark of 30:14 set by Amos Sang of the Western Mass Distance Project.
The top 8-men ran 5-flat or better, the top 42 men 5:20 or better. The BAA men took the team title over Western Mass Distance Project.
And the 1st Woman???????? – Alright, we have talked to this woman many times before, at various races, at the Olympic Trials in LA, as a regular member of the New England’s Finest program at Hartford, but she hasn’t been on the circuit lately and the synapses aren’t what they used to be (which ain’t saying much). So there’s USATF-NE Director Steve Vaitones who surely knows her name, right Steve? “Uh, well, uh, Heather? NER: “Hilary!” SV: “Dionne!” (How’s that for a team effort?) NER: “Congratulations Hilary, how’d the race go for you?”
“I’m happy with the effort. I’d been injured and I hadn’t raced a lot so it was a good effort and I can’t argue with the outcome.”
Dionne hit the first mile in 5:28 in a pack of men with former course record holder Heather Cappello just behind for the first 3-miles. Both athletes are in the NEF program for the half marathon at Hartford and were pleased with their showing—Dionne in 34:26 and Cappello in 34:33. This was also the order of team finish as Dionne’s Craft Concept Racing teammates were numero uno with Cappello’s BAA squad second. Allie Hackett, 23, of the BAA was third in 35:22. The previous event record of 34:31 was set by Rachel Sorna in 2016.
Cooler Chat, and we ain’t talking water coolers…Among idle banter by the HFC, Whirlaway and yes, NER coolers, it was revealed the narrative surrounding the “People’s Champion, ” HFC’s TJ Unger, has changed. TJ is no longer undefeated at 40+ after forging bronze in 33:24 behind the BAA’s Dave Bedoya in 33:18 with both in the substantial wake of Central Mass Strider and NER favorite Pat Rich—carpenter, family man, blue collar plugger and past Cape Cod Marathon Champion and 2018 US Nat’l Masters 10K runner-up who ran 32:39 at Lone Gull.
Also, NER Pub Series leading hops and malt starlet Holly Madden Merrill of Whirlaway wins the women’s Senior division in 40:05 but behind 71 year-old Greater Lowell RR wunderkind Bill Dixon, 71, of Brattleboro, VT in 39:55. (Photo: Vermonters John and Sue Hackney of the Green Mtn. AA, photo by FitzFoto/NERunner)
There was momentary excitement in the NER vehicle heading to the race when Michelle exclaimed, “Hey, you just passed Bill Dixon.”
Fryeburg Academy (ME) coach Bill Reilly (47:35) suffered a rare M70 defeat at the hands of Dixon, while Green Mtn. AA ace John Hackney placed 3rd in 47:46 while wife, Sue, captured the W60 division in 45:24 in a close one over new age-grouper Liane Pancoast of Greater Lowell in 45:39.