World’s Best ‘Feel Good’ Story at NER Pub Series Stop No. 4 – the BHZ 5K

(Photo: Pubster Charles Anderson feeling the love as top female Gigi Dolloff and Whirlaway’s Ken Warren round the corner. Photo by FitzFoto/NERunner)


A bit of dramatic license with the headline, but in a world of Fake News, Alternative Truths and non-engagement with reality, is it really that bad? Especially after perusing the following:


In the early a.m. hours preceding the Barrel House Z 5K, the commander of the vaunted NER/HFC road crew (Ed Groden, Paul Kelly, Guy Barra, Jimmy Fallon) is navigating the durable (131,000-miles plus) if less than exotic official race vehicle along the course, jumping out to chalk some arrows and then coming upon the 1M & 2M certification marks that correspond with a house right up the hill after the course turns left on Pine St. and passes the graveyard on the right.


When we did a Google satellite map of the course we were surprised to find the 1 and 2 mile marks about 20 yards apart. But when master certifier Stevie V. of USATF-NE rode and measured the course twice and tweaked here and there, the mile markers were basically on top of each other.


So there’s a woman pacing the driveway of the “1M-2M” house and when asked if she lives here the reply is yes and when asked if we could place the mile markers on her lawn for a few hours she says fine.


So then I go into the schmiel about the race and its beneficiaries and the woman is looking increasingly distressed and weepy eyed, so I ask if she’s OK and she then reveals that she lost her dog the previous evening, ‘lost’ as in it was an older dog and it just walked away and never returned.


At this point I mention that I don’t want to get her hopes up, but I saw a sign on a telephone pole just down the hill announcing a ‘Found Dog’. Another woman walking a dog comes along and the two know each other and take off down the hill.


The mile markers are planted, the rest of the course is secured and while driving back to the brewery here comes the woman, beaming and giving a thumbs up. Turns out the city has picked up her dog (yellow lab) and is holding it for her.


Now put your hankies away because the first rule of the NER road crew is you don’t talk about the NER road crew… Oops, too late for that, so the second rule of the NER road crew is: when faced with a humanitarian crisis, delay but do not be deterred.


So how could things go wrong after this episode? Well, they could but didn’t, no one was run over and Barrel House didn’t run out of beer (although the crowd was competitive).


As for the race: World mile/juggling record holder (4:43.2) Zach Prescott held a slim lead entering the Holly Hill turnaround with HFC’s TJ Unger and Pub Series leader Alex Kramer in tow.


Emerging from Holly Hill, BU senior Prescott was still in the lead while Unger had moved ahead of Kramer. That’s how it would end, with Prescott arriving at Barrel House in 16:02 and Unger 5-seconds back. Kramer was next in 16:25 followed by Daniel Joyce in 16:27 with Publicans Steve Curley (HFC) Chris Klucznik (SRR) and Patrick Bugbee (CSU) all within the next 10 seconds.


It was an unfamiliar face up front for women alongside weathered Whirlaway warrior Ken Warren. Gigi Dolloff turns out to be Plymouth’s Georgia Dolloff, she of a 3:13 run at this year’s “compromised” Boston Marathon.


Dolloff had the wheels to just survive a troika of Pub powerhouses in 19:23 with Pub leader Holly Madden-Merrill surviving a finish line sprint with the B.A.A.’s Kristin Shaw—19:27 to 19:29—as the duo retain the top two spots on the NER Leaderboard.


Central Mass titan Leslie O’Dell, 42, of Albany, NH—women’s winner on essentially the same course at the Pre Game 5K in Feb.—was 4th and top Master in 19:41 followed by 2017 Pub champ Amanda Watters in 19:49 and current Pub Series 3rd placer Emily Larson of HFC in 20:28. (Photo above-Emily Larson, FitzFoto/NERunner)


The only ‘big’ change in age-group ‘groupings’ came with the “miss two you’re through” hammer coming down on our resident world record holder Jan Holmquist in the F70 division (granddaughter was in town, whaddya gonna do?). This propels Liberty AC/Marshfield RR ace Regina Wright into the top spot. Regina, now 76, will always hold a place in Pub Series lore as the first woman 70-79 to have completed all six Pub Series races a few years back. (Photo: Next ‘Gen’ of Team Fabulous. Photo by MickFoto/NERunner)


Thanks to Waltham TC high jump coach and master craftsman Thom O’Donaghue, late of Balleyvaughan, County Clare and currently residing in Lexington, for the wooden “tap” awards whose bases were reclaimed from the beam of a 17th century New England farmhouse…


…and to Zach Prescott who showed off his juggling skills with three 16oz “pounders”.


Hard to match all this but we look forward to giving a good sendoff to the 10th and final Bernie’s Run on Sep. 23. So we look forward to see you all at the Village Manor in Dedham for what could be a real hootenanny.

Men’s Standings             Women’s Standings

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