After three years of various podium places at the West Island 5K the husband/wife team of Falmouth’s Mike and Emily Stone doubled down to cop $100 each during the 8th edition this April 28.
Photo: The Falmouth TC’s Mike Stone (L) and Tracksmith Hare’s Eric Holmes separated from the pack early. Photo by FitzFoto/NERunner
West Island in Fairhaven is a location you wouldn’t find unless you were looking for it, connected to the “mainland” by causeway. There’s a family friendly community feel to this race and Race Director Lyle Drew grew up here and ran cross country for the Fairhaven Blue Devils (class of ’90).
When the xc program was in trouble and no funding was coming from the high school, Drew jumped into action, raised funds through the race and the xc program was saved.
“There was a transition period but the program is really strong today,” said Drew, an Air Force Colonel whose mother still lives on island. “Out defending women’s champion, Emily Stone, is back but I’m not sure who our top guy will be.”
Hey, how about Mike Stone? Well, Stone was 4th last year, but “Each year I’ve run there’s been a new men’s record,” said the pride of the Falmouth Track Club. “Last year there was a wicked fast field.”
In the 2018 race, former U. Minnesota ace Riley Macon, 23, set the CR of 15:20.
Photo: Top Septuagenarian, barrister Barbara Sauer of Buffalo, NY (late of Boston) kept a sub-9 pace to post up as 1st W70 in 27:32. Photo by MickFoto/NERunner
For 2019, Mike, 32, was runner-up at February’s Pre-Game 5K with the gold at West Island up for grabs through 2M as Tracksmith Hare’s Eric Holmes kept pace.
The pair were way ahead of the field and shortly after 2-miles Stone forged a gap to win handily in 16:08 with Holmes second in 16:22. The course is completely flat except for a hill by the start at the Community Center that becomes the course’s one and only hill at the finish.
Emily Stone, 29, ran solo to earn the women’s title in 19:46. Two years ago Emily placed second to 4-time women’s champion and course record holder Anne Preisig, 57, who would place second (20:51) as she did last year.
“I was 10 seconds slower this year but I’m happy with that and I’ll take it,” Emily said with a laugh remembering her slightly faster 2018 win. “This was much more enjoyable considering I ran much of the race last year with Anne, who is amazing.”
While Emily paced 5th among the 354 finishers, Anne was 9th.
There was a kids mile race before the 5K and a ton of young runners in the 5K, more than you’d see at most races. Noticeable among the youth corps were brother/sister David Pareneau, 14, who placed 6th in the 5K in 19:56, and Alyssa, 10, who won the mile in 6:57.
Photo: Last hill to the finish.
“This is always a fun race and it’s a fast course,” noted Stone. Among the post-race comestibles was piping hot clam chowder, welcome on a day with a breeze and temperatures in the low 50s. What rain was around the area held off until after the festivities.
Counting this year, $80,000 has been raised to benefit the cross country program at Fairhaven HS. Non-profit Strive and Achieve was also a beneficiary.