The Grand Finale of the NER Pub Series Visited Redux & Pre-Virtual

The Grand Final of the NER Pub Series—the 19th annual Paddy’s Shillelagh Shuffle 3M in W. Newton, MA—would have played out this past Sunday, Oct. 18, and it did, but virtually in a 4-day virtual palooza.



Big doings in 2019 as the US Olympic Trials-bound Hackett twins went 1-2 for women with the women’s CR of 16:27 set by Kathy Fleming (nee Franey) in 2007 eclipsed by 3-seconds. The photo below, cropped to show just the twins, appeared in the 2020 US Olympic Marathon Trials program.



(The lowdown on the throwdown from the Jan/Feb 2020 issue of NER)



Pub Series Cacophony, Hackett Breaks Women’s CR at Paddy’s



As runners pass in front of Paddy’s during the Shillelagh Shuffle, the Hackett twinsMichaela (L) and course record setter Allie—set the pace in the women’s field. The men’s B.A.A. runner up front is Justin Lutz, winner of the 2007 race where Kathy Fleming (nee Franey) set the women’s CR. Photo by MickFoto/NERunner


The sun was shining with mild temperatures for the 18th annual Paddy’s Shillelagh Shuffle 3M in W. Newton, MA. This was the first Paddy’s without one of its guiding lights, John O’Hara, proprietor along with his brother Karl of Paddy’s Public House in W. Newton and O’Hara’s Food & Spirits in Newton Highlands. Extremely generous and ready with dry wit and sound advice, John’s loss last year after a protracted struggle with cancer was a huge blow to the community. In remembrance, John O’Hara appeared on the bib numbers, on race hats and was memorialized in words of tribute from Race Director Mark Kelly.



John certainly was smiling over the proceedings, with thousands of energetic participants including Newton’s Athletes Unlimited, families, kids, Pubsters geared up for the Pub Series Grand Finale and, for the past two years, the especially fleet of feet looking to cash in on the $100 mile and 2-mile “primes.”

Before the 11:30 pm main event, the Kids 1K reflected the popularity of this race. “It’s been unbelievable, the spike in the 1K,” said RD Kelly. “We started with something like 84 kids the first year. Two years ago we had 200 kids and last year we were about 300. Last week I had to get extra bib numbers.” The tally this Oct. 20 was a record 378 entrants.



The certified 3M, that starts and finishes on the Border St. straightaway adjacent to Paddy’s, skirts both Auburndale and Waltham on a mostly flat and fast loop course.

Kathy Fleming cruising at 5:27 pace in 2007. Photo by FitzFoto/NERunner


The B.A.A’s Billy Looney, a former collegiate 800m specialist, copped the first mile prime in 2018 but was now hedging his bets. “I don’t know, I think it would be tough to get it this year, there’s a lot of really fast guys here.



One of those fast guys—teammate Phil Royer—placed fifth last year while his wife Hannah Rowe stole the spotlight and pocketed the cash for miles 1 & 2, en route to winning the women’s race. Royer was now in shape and it was his day. He hit the first mile in 4:35 and broke the finish line tape in 14:52 for a 22-second win over teammate Kevin Serreo with Looney third in 15:26.



Placing fifth and as first Master was former two-time Paddy’s champion and three-time Pub Series champion TJ Unger of the HFC Striders. Unger entered the race 10 points behind Tracksmith Hare’s Luke O’Connor, who was unexpectantly AWOL. This represents the biggest “sure-thing” Pub Series miss since Whirlaway’s Joe Navas figured he could run the Bay State Marathon in Lowell in the morning, then wrap up the Pub Series in the afternoon…except for that pesky Nor’easter that worsened as the day progressed.

“You never want to win it that way,” grinned Unger, “but what are you gonna do?”



Striding down Elm St. in the third mile of the Shillelagh Shuffle, three-time Pub Series champion Paul Hammond of Whirlaway strains to keep pace with Marshfield Road Runner and soon to be W50 women’s course record holder (18:13) Kim Ionta. Photo by MickFoto/NERunner


The women’s race presented a double vision dilemma for the mile prime watchers as the 24 year-old Hackett twins—Allie and Michaela—crossed in tandem at 5:20. Both were given $100 with Allie the sole beneficiary at mile-2 on her way to clocking 16:24 for a 5:28 pace that lowered by 3-ticks the women’s CR of 16:27 by former Villanova runner Kathy Fleming in 2007.



The bronze medalist on the day in 17:50, HFC’s Christina Campbell, 38, grabs the golden chalice as the Pub Series Malt & Hops Queen. Sometime Pubster Leslie O’Dell, 43, of Albany, NH, placed fourth and as first Master in 18:06 followed by first Senior Kim Ionta, 56, of the Marshfield RR. Despite missing a Pub race as she defended her Senior title at the Falmouth Road Race, Ionta still placed fourth overall in the Series. Her time of 18:13 broke the W50 record at Paddy’s.



Looking like a seasoned pro, 9-year-old Amelia Sinnett of W. Newton and the powerhouse Waltham Track Club, keeps to a sub-7 pace that will bring her to the finish line in 20:48 as the 2nd runner under 19 (by 6-seconds!). Photo by MickFoto/NERunner


Heather “Blue Mule” Spinney, 32, of Whirlaway, arrived next in 18:43 to capture Silver in the Series. Despite being 6-months preggers and placing outside of the top-10, past Pub champion Amanda Watters of the BAA retained the third slot in the Series by a single point.



“My goal entering the race was the record and Michaela and I were right on pace and then separated a bit at two miles,” noted Allie Hackett, who found no shortage of encouragement. After two miles I knew I’d been on record pace and she was ahead of me so I was yelling ‘go Allie’ over and over,” said Michaela.

“There was lots of cheering and then to hear Michaela behind me was a big boost. I had a lot of impetus heading to the finish. I knew I was just about exactly on pace. The course was flat, fast and the whole experience was just a lot of fun,” added Allie.



In another dynamic development, only 3-points separated the silver medal Pub men, with Somerville Road Runner Chris Klucznik, 37, holding the advantage over Patrick Bugbee, 36, of the Cambridge Sports Union. The kicker is that Klucznik ran the Chicago Marathon the week before in a PR 2:30:53. Despite this, Klucznik led Bugbee throughout most of the race. Bugbee would come on to pass Kluznik, but no one else did, and thus Klucznik preserved Silver by 2-points. The pair paced 7-8 in 15:56/15:57.



Dogs and chicken pot pie were in plentiful supply post-race as the Blocktoberfest Beer Garden swung into full gear. There were 25 vendors on hand to add to the festive atmosphere as over $50,000 was raised to support year-round recreation programs for kids and adults with disabilities. Organizers and volunteers once again supplied a great day.

—Bob Fitzgerald



18th Annual Paddy’s Pub Shillelagh Shuffle 3M/NER Pub Series Grand Finale, West Newton, October 20

2,043 3M Entrants – 1,778 Finishers; 346 Youth 1K Entrants – 329 Finishers -Timing by: Granite State Race Services – USATF Certified: MA07030JK. Course Records:14:24 – John Mortimer in 2004 & Connor Reck in 2018;Allie Hackett, 16:24, 2019. 19-under:Derek St. Cyr, 15:29, 2010; Taylor Pinzone, 18:23, 2014. Masters:Jason Cakouros, 15:02, 2006; Mimi Fallon, 17:01, 2005. Seniors: Mark Reeder, 15:41, 2013; Kim Ionta, 18:13, 2019. Veterans:John Barbour, 16:52, 2014; Jan Holmquist, 20:30, 2012. 70-79:Bill Riley, 19:11, 2006; Jan Holmquist, 21:08, 2014



Men (Overall):1. Phil Royer, 14:52; 2. Kevin Serrao, 15:14; 3. Billy Looney, 15:26; 4. John Sava, 15:30; 5. T.J. Unger, 15:31; 6. Gabe Montague, 15:53; 7. Patrick Bugbee, 15:56; 8. Chris Klucznik, 15:57; 9. Brian Sheppard, 15:58; 10. Joe Vercollone, 16:10; 11. Eric Sofen, 16:13; 12. Aaron Ladd, 16:20. (19-under):1. Matt Hong, 17:39; 2. Mark Franklin, 18:16; 3. Nate Hamilton, 18:51. Masters:1. T.J. Unger, 15:31; 2. Chris Leitz, 16:57; 3. Mark Neavyn, 17:11; 4. Mike Paulin, 17:11; 5. Michael McGrane, 17:20. Seniors:1. Jason Cakouros, 16:40; 2. Robert Cipriano, 16:57; 3. Kevin Delaney, 17:00; 4. Terry McNatt, 17:10; 5. Joe O’Leary, 17:16; 6. Bobby Bligh, 17:37. Veterans:1. David Westenberg, 17:13; 2. John Barbour, 17:50; 3. Pete Danzell, 18:55; 4. Jon Waldron, 19:50; 5. Ed Murphy, 20:15; 6. Dave Wessman, 20:20. (70-79):1. Bob Dacey, CT, 22:49; 2. Fred Ross III, VT, 22:54; 3. Dave Pember, 24:34; 4. Elliot Frank, 25:17; 5. John Murphy, 25:27; 6. Rich Paulsen, 26:47. (80+):1. Larry Cole, 41:09.



Women (Overall):1. Allie Hackett, 16:24 (CR:old record 16:27, Kathy Fleming, 2007);2. Michaela Hackett, 16:35; 3. Christina Campbell, 17:50; 4. Leslie O’Dell, NH, 18:04; 5. Kim Ionta, 18:13; 6. Heather Spinney, 18:40; 7. Nicole Nelson, 18:57; 8. Mimi Fallon, 19:07; 9. Kristen Leontie, 19:42; 10. Joanna Waterfall, 19:48; 11. Eileen Cakouros, 20:12; 12. Emily McDivitt, 20:13. (19-under):1. Z.Z. Sayeed, 20:42; 2. Amelia Sinnett, 20:48; 3. Ciara Evans, 21:15. Masters:1. Leslie O’Dell, NH, 18:04; 2. Emily McDivitt, 20:13; 3. Cynthia Sanger, 20:28; 4. Avril Silverman, 20:39; 4. Tara Campbell, 21:16; 5. Amanda Gleeson, 21:36. Seniors: 1. Kim Ionta, 18:13 (CR:old record 18:43, Holly Madden, 2018); 2. Mimi Fallon, 19:07; 3. Eileen Cakouros, 20:12; 4. Lisa Williams, 20:43; 5. Lisa Pagana, 22:24. Veterans:1. Marge Bellisle, RI, 20:57; 2. Brenda Egizi, 21:26; 3. Deb Lynch, 24:25. (70-79):1. Joanne Morris, 29:44; 2. Candace Wicks, 33:30; 3. Berne Irwin, AL, 34:44. (80+):1. AnneMarie McDonald, 43:44









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