Spisak, Rees Top USATF-NE GP 13.1M Joust in the Whaling City

OK, so it’s supposed to be mid-40s in mid-March but the month came in like a Lion with a Nor’easter and New Bedford does have a history of some wild (especially windy) weather during the course of its 41-year history. (Photos by FitzFoto/NERunner)


So are sunny skies with cold temps rising to a balmy 25˚ with a brisk wind all that bad? Well yah, but the show goes on with major concern on how to dress…or not.


Lanky Jim Spisak, late of NE Distance, currently living in Providence, RI, took a minimalist approach, but when you’re running around 5-flat pace you tend to heat up fairly quickly.


This was actually conservative for Spisak, who allowed that he’d been sick earlier in the week and was going to ease into this USATF-NE GP championship in the Whaling City after recording a rare sub-50:00 performance at the hilly Amherst 10M.


“I took it fairly easy through the first hill (3mi.) running within myself, but as I got going I started to pick it up from miles 5 through 9. I felt good but the wind in the final miles was tough,” relayed the former Duquesne All American.


Former New Bedford runner-up Jonny Wilson of Maine and past multiple time winner Ruben Sanca of Whirlaway were with Spisak for the inaugural miles but were stretched out behind the leader when he hit 5-miles in 25:10, picked it up through 10K (30:24) and brought it home down Pleasant St. to win handily in 1:04:50.


Spisak finished averaging 4:57 pace following one of the rare sub-50:00 performances ever recorded at the hilly Amherst 10M. Matt Herzig of The Heartbreakers came on to pass Sanca and then Wilson in the closing meters of the race, clocking 1:07:20 with Wilson 5-ticks back. Sanca followed in 1:07:39.


In the women’s race, NER’s 2017 female Runner of the Year—Holly Rees of the Battle Road TC—had close company in NE Distance’s Rachel Schilkowski through 10K in 34:34. (Photo: Can’t get much closer-Holly Rees with Rachel Schilkowski)


Despite a very strong showing from Schilkowski, Rees was running solo past 7-miles.


“It may sound awful but I really didn’t have a set pace or time in mind coming into the race,” allowed Rees, who 6-weeks earlier had represented Scotland in a 3K road race in Ireland. “I wanted to run as relaxed and as well as I could for as long as I could.”


More a mid-distance specialist, Rees ran her first half marathon in the UK 18 months ago in 1:18:00. Her second marathon, and first in the US, produced a PR 1:14:05. “Oh I’m happy about that but to be honest I’m really excited about being part of the team today, there’s six of us running.”


Battle Road would have to settle for the bronze, however, as The Heartbreakers—led by past runner-up Katherine Chute— topped the podium followed by the B.A.A., led by Lauren Philbrook.


With Schilkowski taking 2nd in 1:15:51, Chute and Philbrook followed in 1:17:11 and 1:17:19.


A day after St. Patrick’s Day, there was lively craic to be had post-race at innumerable bistros, including Freestones and New Bedford RD Dan McCarthy’s satellite office at Slainte. Our only regret on the day is not making it to Pour Farm. Ah well…next year. Full Results Here

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