One of our favorite events and usually slated around Halloween. The fright in 2019 was the weather for the unveiling of the marathon’s new coastal route. Gusting winds and driving rains made the going just a tad arduous, but so much better than what was to come in 2020.
Below is 2019’s review as it appeared in the Jan/Feb 2020 issue of NER.
Three miles in the lead group consisted of (L-R) Whirlaway’s Shane Whalen, two-time champ Eric Ashe of the BAA, and West Side RC (NY) teammates Gishu Dida and Birhanu Dare Kemal. Photo by FitzFoto/NERunner
Cry Me A River
by Bob Fitzgerald
Weep not for the Cape Cod Half Marathoners, battered by a Nor’easter in 2018 and now applying sunblock after a beautiful day at the races on Saturday, Oct. 26 to kick off marathon weekend in Falmouth. Camden, NY’s Sam Morse, 36, a former NER NY Runner of the Year and accomplished marathoner, stepped down in distance and earned the top podium step with a 1:07:57 course record win over fellow Gothamite and defending marathon champion Bryan Morseman, 34, of Bath, NY, in 1:09:33.
Of note in fourth place was women’s winner Molly Seidel, 25. Living in Boston and running for Saucony, Seidel was the first woman to win both the Foot Locker XC Nat’l title and then the NCAA D1 XC Championship while at Notre Dame (read: talent). Seidel’s time of 1:14:10 replaced the 1:16:15 women’s CR set by Kaitlin Goodman in 2016.
Two spots following Seidel was Esteban Vanegas, 49, a native of Ecuador, longtime runner for the West Side Runners Club in NYC and now a US citizen living in Michigan. Vanegas would run 1:14:40 and on the following day clock 2:39:29 in the marathon to win the Chowda Challenge. Needless to say, Vanegas was top Master in both races. So about the following day: race director Jack Afarian was understandably excited in the lead-up to the first year of the new coastal route.
Women’s champion Hannah Rowe of the B.A.A. Photo by FitzFoto/NERunner
The race was hosting the USATF-NE GP Championship (for a 22nd year), marathon numbers were trending 76% ahead of the previous year and the half would sell out. Finishers were up by 359 at the full distance and 270 in the half, but how many fair weather runners didn’t toe the line? For those of true New England lineage, women’s marathon winner Hannah Rowe of the B.A.A., who missed her quest for a (2:45:00) Trials qualifier, mused, “I’m from Vermont and we’re at a New England race. You have to run in the conditions; sometimes you do alright and sometimes the conditions win.”
Rowe was a standout cross country runner at Dartmouth where mud would have been added to the mix, but marathoners were saved that. What they did get were brisk, howling winds and rain that increased as the day lengthened. Gusting headwinds were evident at the outset as the course hugged Nantucket Sound. There would be inland interludes and, as runner-up Shane Whalen of Whirlaway put it, “It was nice when the wind was at your back, but you really noticed it when it was in your face.”
Whalen, 31, of Hooksett, NH, was part of a lead quartet that included New England pre-race favorite and two-time Cape Cod champion Eric Ashe, 31, of the B.A.A. plus the Ethiopian duo of Birhanu Dare Kemal, 33, and Gishu Dida, 37, teammates on the West Side RC out of NYC. Giving chase was the solid duo of defending USATF-NE marathon champion Scott Mindel, 33, of the Central Mass Striders, and Wethersfield, CT’s Will Sanders, 32, a former UConn standout that had run 1:07:59 at the Hartford Half Marathon two weeks earlier.
With 10 miles remaining, women’s runner-up Caili Colquitt keeps pace alongside Matt Germain of the SISU Project. Photo by FitzFoto/NERunner
Running solo behind them was Millennium Running’s Jaidiby Zapata, 35, of Milford, NH, followed by a large pack with GBTC and Somerville RR singlets evident along with Chowda Challenge King Vanegas. There would be plenty of movement among the men but not so the women. Rowe was tucked into a pack of men followed by Charleston, SC’s Caili Colquitt, 25, now living in Boston and running by her lonesome with Whirlaway trail/mountain maven Kassandra Marin, 30, running in a group followed by Sara Vayrynen, 31, of the Cambridge RC.
In the men’s race, Whalen took a turn up front he immediately decided against. A basketball, track and cross country runner at Campbell U. (NC), Whalen “did nothing” for several years before sneaking back into the sport to “see what I could do.” An initial 2:59:24 outing in 2016 led to a 2:47:20 at Boston in 2018 followed later in the year by a 2:28:41 fall effort. When Kemal made a move right before 17-miles, Whalen made another snap decision. “I thought about going with him but I’m glad I didn’t. I don’t think I could have run a decent race if I had.
It turned out to be a good choice. In the later miles I was exhausted and just trying to focus,” said Whalen, who had no idea Kemal had run 2:12:21 at Grandmas in 2018 and was prepping for the NYC Marathon a week later (where he’d place 13th in 2:13:35). Kemal hit the finish by the Falmouth Village Green in 2:21:31, short of his goal of breaking 2:20 but when asked about the weather he broke into a wide grin, “I did not beat my goal today, but it was very stormy, tough, with a lot of wind. Before New York, this was a good effort and experience so I am happy with the win.”
Cape Cod Marathon RD Jack Afarian with women’s winner Hannah Rowe. Photo by FitzFoto/NERunner
Kemal pocketed $1K and a $500 bonus for a new record (as would women’s winner Rowe). Whalen arrived second in 2:24:10 followed by Dida in 2:25:30. Eyeing Whirlaway’s Brandon Newbould, 38, crossing the finish line in 6th at 2:27:41, Whalen commented, “We’ve got a great group of guys, super supportive, I think we’ll do really good today.” Add teammate Tim Poitras, 23, in 11th and the team victory was clinched. After a small dose of drama, Zapata arrived fourth in 2:25:54. “Scott and I went off course between 14 and 15 miles,” explained Sanders. “It was our own fault, we should have followed the curve of the road; instead we went straight and ended up near a pier, probably lost less than a quarter-mile but when we backtracked Jaidiby joined us; wouldn’t have made a difference, he was the strongest runner.”
Mindel would gas over the final 10K and end up 10th in 2:33:41 while Sanders continued strong. “Scott dropped off at 19 miles and then I caught Eric (Ashe) at 22,” said Sanders after placing fifth in 2:26:21. Ashe would claim the seventh and final money spot in 2:30:17. After a 1:06:57 at the BAA Half, Ashe won the tough MDI Half Marathon in a course record 1:07:10 just a week before the Cape. “I hadn’t planned on putting in a hard effort at MDI, it’s a tough course, but then this guy from Minnesota showed up and I had to give 100%. I got over aggressive with my racing and it cost me today. I didn’t have the legs to carry me in the second half,” Ashe lamented.
Women’s frontrunner Rowe lost her entourage at 18-miles but was still in the hunt for a trials qualifier. “At 20 miles I was thinking, ‘I’m still in it,’ then I made the turn back to the water (22-miles) and got hit by a huge patch of wind. The rainfall felt like needles on my face,” said Rowe, nonetheless upbeat after missing the qualifier but running a PR 2:46:42 for the win. “It was great to see so many people out there on the course in those conditions; the support from volunteers, spectators and runners was fabulous.” Colquitt was also chasing a qualifier and would fall short after a steady 2:47:40 effort less than a minute behind Rowe.
Yesteryear at Cape Cod.
“The conditions were less than ideal but I thought it was a beautiful course, the bike path was cool, the different residential sections, the beachfront,” said Colquitt. (Ironically, Afarian noted that a section of the bike path near 23 miles had been damaged in a recent storm and the DPW created a new 5-foot wide path for runners alongside the damaged section.). Whirlaway’s Marin pulled in for the bronze in 2:54:49 followed by the Cambridge RC’s Vayrynen in 2:57:04. Rounding out the top-5 in 2:59:17 and pulling in as first Master-at age 48, in her first-ever sub-3:00 clocking in 2:59:17-was Contoocook, NH’s Christin Doneski.
We’re of the opinion that trail aces like Marin and Doneski are used to changing rhythm multiple times over a course, and this was a huge benefit on this weather ravaged day. The pair were in such a state of non-stop high glee banter post-race we didn’t have a chance to ask, but Doneski did relay the following to NER: “My halfway split was 1:29:34; other than miles 22-26 I think I was pretty consistent. Miles 22-25 were so windy that I was working harder and moving slower. There was a clock at 25 that read 2:51, and knowing I hadn’t missed the sub 3-hour opportunity yet, I gave everything I could to get in under the wire, so my last mile was my fastest of the day!”
Whirlaway swept all team divisions-Open, Masters & Seniors. Whirlaway men captured the Open and Vets category with Masters & Seniors both going to the Central Mass Striders, spearheaded by the No. 1 scorer in both divisions, David Principe, 52, of Johnston, RI. Principe was coming off a Hartford Marathon M50 course record of 2:35:55 two weeks earlier and-in a race within a race-hooked up with five-time Bay of Fundy Int’l Marathon champion Robert Ashby, 51, of Brunswick, ME and the Dirigo RC. At this year’s Boston Marathon, the pair had placed 2-3 in the M50 division, 1-2 US with Ashby No. 1 US in 2:38:23 and Principe at 2:39:52.
The two friendly rivals and the best M50 marathoners in New England bantered through the early miles before Ashby started pulling ahead at times. CMS teammate Scott Leslie cautioned Principe about letting Ashby get too far ahead. “I told Scott not to worry, I was waiting for the turnaround (9.5-miles) before doing anything,” said Principe. “After the turnaround I caught Robert and he stayed with me awhile but I was rolling, knocking off 5:50s, a 5:45 and I was, ‘whoa, should I really be doing this?’ In one of the later miles into the wind I ran a 7:01.”
Principe still had it in the tank to finish in 2:41:46 with Ashby pulling in at 2:44:01. In the Senior women’s ledger, marathon icon and former nutmegger Mary-Lynn Currier, 55, of Buzzards Bay, eked out a close win over the BEN RC’s Chunhua Liu, 50, of Newton-3:19:25 to 3:19:34-but in USATF-NE Championship scoring, Liu remains the only runner to have won her division in all seven championship races.
Past the finish line under the big top, and most appreciated on this day was chef Stephen Bird’s 160 gallon offering of piping hot homemade soups featuring turkey & rice, vegetarian minestrone and, of course, clam chowdah!
Post script: The following day a Coastal Flood advisory was issued for the region from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm. Further down the road, USATF-NE members voted to go with a spring marathon in 2020 (VT City) which means the 43rd Cape Cod Marathon will be contested in beautiful weather (we can’t vouch for the half).
42nd Annual Cape Cod Marathon/USATF-NE Championship, Falmouth, October 27
905 Marathon Finishers – 149 Relay Teams – 62 Chowda Challenge Finishers – 1,447 Half Marathon Finishers. Timing by: RaceWire – Organized by: Falmouth Track Club – Marathon USATF Certified: MA19014JK – Half Marathon USATF Certified: MA14036JK – Marathon Event Records: Randy Thomas, 2:17:35, 1986; Cathy Schiro (O’Brien), 2:37:06, 1987. Chowda Challenge Event Records: Bryan Morseman, 3:39:39, 2016; Sonya Pasquini, 4:51:19, 2013. Half Marathon Course Records: Sam Morse, 1:07:57, 2019; Molly Seidel, 1:14:10, 2019
Men’s Marathon (Overall): 1. Birhanu Dare Kemal, ETH-NY, 2:21:31; 2. Shane Whalen, Whirlaway, 2:24:10; 3. Gishu Dida, ETH-NY, 2:25:30; 4. Jaidiby Zapata, NH, Millenium Running, 2:25:54; 5. Will Sanders, CT, 2:26:21; 6. Brandon Newbould, NH, Whirlaway, 2:27:41; 7. Eric Ashe, BAA, 2:30:17; 8. Erik Hinrichsen, GBTC, 2:31:20; 9. Andy Dionne, NY, Syracuse TC, 2:31:21; 10. Scott Mindel, CMS, 2:33:41; 11. Tim Poitras, Whirlaway, 2:33:58; 12. Evan Vadenais, Somerville RR, 2:35:48; 13. Daniel Joyce, WMDP, 2:35:50; 14. Robert Gibson, 2:35:53; 15. Scott Leslie, CMS, 2:37:52; 16. Pat Ludlow, Somerville RR, 2:38:29; 17. Mark Hegarty, Whirlaway, 2:39:03; 18. Esteban Vanegas, MI, 2:39:29. Masters: 1. Esteban Vanegas, COL-MI, 2:39:29; 2. Art Besse, CMS, 2:42:15; 3. Jon Chesto, GBTC, 2:47:59; 4. Jim Tai, BEB RC, 2:56:28; 5. Mike Paulin, BAA, 2:58:00. Seniors: 1. Dave Principe, CMS, 2:41:46; 2. Robert Ashby, ME, Dirigo RC, 2:44:01; 3. Charlie Bemis, Whirlaway, 2:57:07; 4. Terry McNatt, CSU, 3:01:39; 5. Robert Landry, GSH, 3:05:08. Veterans: 1. Stan Peijffers, Whirlaway, 3:14:46; 2. John Shepherd, 3:24:20; 3. Stephen Drouin, CMS, 3:32:19; 4. Marty Lechleider, Whirlaway, 3:35:19; 5. John Gorman, Whirlaway, 3:47:12. (70+): 1. Brian Byrne, Whirlaway, 4:12:01; 2. Lenny Collins, 4:38:31. Men’s Teams (Open): 1. Whirlaway Racing Team, 7:25:49; 2. Central Mass. Striders, 7:53:19; 3. BAA, 8:01:40; 4. Somerville Road Runners, 8:03:43; 5. Millennium Running, 8:30:18; 6. BEN Running Club, 8:37:44; 7. Cambridge Running Club, 8:54:12; 8. Greater Lowell Road Runners, 9:11:24; 9. North Medford Club, 9:58:37; 10. Cambridge Sports Union, 10:04:02. Men’s Teams (Masters): 1. Central Mass. Striders, 8:31:56; 2. BEN RC, 8:57:39; 3. Whirlaway RT, 9:19:44; 4. BAA, 9:23:26; 5. Gr. Lowell RR, 9:30:25; 6. Gr. Springfield Harriers, 10:28:11. Men’s Teams (Seniors): 1. Central Mass. Striders, 8:58:21; 2. Whirlaway RT, 9:31:57; 3. Gr. Lowell RR, 9:37:30; 4. BAA, 9:47:45; 5. BEN RC, 9:57:18; 6. Gr. Springfield Harriers, 10:30:12. Men’s Teams (Veterans): 1. Whirlaway RT, 10:37:17.
Men’s Half Marathon Top-5: 1. Sam Morse, NY, 1:07:57 (CR: old record 1:08:17, Dan Docherty, 2016); 2. Bryan Morseman, NY, 1:09:33; 3. Mike Schroeder, 1:10:52; 4. Ty Gill, 1:14:33; 5. Esteban Vanegas, 49, COL-MI, 1:14:40.
Women’s Marathon (Overall): 1. Hannah Rowe, BAA, 2:46:42; 2. Caili Colquitt, 2:47:40; 3. Kassandra Marin, Whirlaway, 2:54:29; 4. Sara Vayrynen, Cambridge RC, 2:57:04; 5. Christin Doneski, NH, Whirlaway, 2:59:17; 6. Lindsay Eysenbach, 3:02:13; 7. Melissa Hine, WMDP, 3:07:42; 8. Jenna Castro, GBTC, 3:07:53; 9. Leslie O’Dell, NH-CMS, 3:08:27; 10. Karin Knudson, SRR, 3:09:35; 11. Lynn Strong, 3:09:40; 12. Meghan Rhodes, 3:11:59; 13. Sophie Peters, 3:13:34; 14. Yimei Huang, 3:14:46; 15. Maggie Mackenzie, 3:15:24; 16. Erin Morin, SRR, 3:17:26; 17. Tracy Johnson, 3:17:33; 18. Ashley Mattingly, 3:18:34. Masters: 1. Christin Doneski, NH, Whirlaway 2:59:17; 2. Leslie O’Dell, NH, CMS, 3:08:27; 3. Yimei Huang, BEN RC, 3:14:46; 4. Ashley Mattingly, 3:18:34; 5. Sarah Osgood, 3:20:40. Seniors: 1. Mary-Lynn Currier, 3:19:25; 2. Chunhua Liu, BEN RC, 3:19:34; 3. Nadine Palmer, Whirlaway, 3:29:48; 4. Lisa Zappala, Whirlaway, 3:32:33; 5. Yukiko Oba, 3:36:53. Veterans: 1. Nancy Corsaro, Whirlaway, 3:32:10; 2. Susan Spencer, Tri-Valley, 3:58:10; 3. Linda Boyer, 3:58:27; 4. Kathy Murphy, CMS, 4:21:41; 5. Nancy Dorn, Gr. Lowell, 4:39:23. (70+): 1. Mary Sharkey, CMS, 4:37:20. Women’s Teams (Open): 1. Whirlaway Racing Team, 9:23:34; 2. Cambridge Running Club, 9:56:34; 3. BEN Running Club, 10:06:11; 4. Western Mass. Distance Project, 10:33:29; 5. Tri-Valley Frontrunners, 11:39:14; 6. Central Mass. Striders, 11:40:32; 7. Somerville Road Runners, 12:03:11; 8. Greater Lowell Road Runners, 14:23:33. Women’s Teams (Masters): 1. Whirlaway RT, 10:01:15; 2. BEN RC, 10:06:11; 3. Western Mass. DP, 11:30:21; 4. Central Mass. Striders, 11:40:32; 5. Tri-Valley Frontrunners, 12:39:34; 6. Gr. Lowell RR, 16:43:57. Women’s Teams (Seniors): 1. Whirlaway RT, 10:34:31; 2. BEN RC, 11:01:45; 3. Western Mass. DP, 11:30:21; 4. Central Mass. Striders, 13:09:25; 5. Gr. Lowell RR, 16:43:57.
Women’s Half Marathon Top-5: 1. Molly Seidel, 1:14:10 (CR: old record 1:16:15, Kaitlin Goodman, 2016); 2. Caroline Turner, 1:22:44; 3. Lauren Tilton, NH, 1:23:15; 4. Sybil Shapiro, 41, CT, 1:23:25; 5. Shannon Hickey, 1:24:18.