By STEPHEN MAZZONE
as appeared on RunRhody.com
NARRAGANSETT – Back in the mid-1970s and early 1980s there was no denying the impact that Bobby Doyle had on the rest of his competition. He ruled the roads for one reason, his take-no-prisoner, ram-it-up-your-gut attitude. It was his race, and if you wanted to try and take it away from him, you better be prepared for a battle.
The modern-day Bobby Doyle, 2:17 marathoner and R.I.’s best road racer, Matt Pelletier, graced the starting line Saturday night of a race that bears the name of the late, great legendary runner, the fifth annual Bobby Doyle Summer Classic in Narragansett.
Facing an equally-talented competitor, one that happens to be the son of the race’s namesake, Pelletier took control just past the midway point and cruised to his second crown in the popular five-miler with a time of 24 minutes, 52 seconds. Former Bishop Hendricken star and current Northeastern University junior Brian Doyle was second at 25:28. Jake Sienko, another ex-Hawk great, was third at 26:29.
Pelletier made his most decisive move between three and four miles. Holding a six-second edge over Doyle at the three-mile mark near the Point Judith Country Club on Windemere Road, the West Greenwich runner tossed in a quick 4:52 mile down Kinney Avenue and coasted to his second win since proving victorious in the inaugural 2008 event.
Race director Jim Doyle couldn’t help but point out the similarities in Pelletier’s gutsy effort to that of his older brother, Bobby, a two-time U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials qualifier and seven-time Ocean State Marathon champion.
“There is no question,” he said. “Bobby would have done the same thing. Bobby would have said, ‘Okay, I got a couple of young kids, I am going to dust them.’ To Brian’s credit, he hung in there for two miles. To Matt’s credit, that was a great strategy to do. He was 4:50 at the mile, 9:49 at two miles. You run with the young guy and then you go with your strength. That obviously worked for him.”
Pelletier, who qualified for the 2008 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials and was a winner of this year’s Blessing of the Fleet 10-miler, also in Narragansett, knew he had to make his move with at least two miles remaining.
“I knew I had to get rid of him as soon as possible,” he said. “Brian is much faster than me. He has more leg speed. As far as shorter races go, Brian has me hands down. I needed to get rid of him as early as possible. I tried to do it in the second mile and he came back on me. I tried to do it again in the third mile. He kind of let me go a little bit. Once we were around the corner at the top of the golf course, I had to just pour it on. If I didn’t go by mile four, he probably would have reeled me in.”
“I kind of got the sense he was going to take off,” said Doyle, who plans to re-shirt this season at Northeastern and has been logging about 100 miles a week. “They say you only have one move in a race and I kind of used it to catch up to him at 2 1/2 miles, which I knew I had to do to hang on. I hung on for as long as I could but he’s in good shape right now.”
In the women’s race, former Barrington High all-stater Sarah Barry, 20, claimed the top prize, finishing 22nd overall among the 184 finishers with a winning time of 31:18. Stephanie Beaudette, a 21-year-old from Johnston, was second and 28th overall at 32:16. Maddy Berkson, 17, a top middle distance runner from Classical High, was third and 33rd overall with a 33:02 clocking.
“My coaches told me to do a tempo run, to try not to race it and go at a conservative pace,” said Barry, a junior at Yale University. “The downhill start is very helpful. It felt pretty easy. I just kept it really conservative until like three miles and then I was feeling good so I pushed it a little bit. At four miles I was like I just got to go up this hill and kicked it in. I was happy with my time. It’s a five-mile PR.”
For the first time, there was also a 5K race. Held prior to the five-miler, Bishop Hendricken sophomore Mike Potter was the first male finisher with a time of 16:22. Trish Hillery, 45, a frequent winner on the road-racing circuit and a onetime Providence College All American, took the women’s title, placing 18th overall with a time of 18:49. The race drew 150 finishers.
Thanks to Steve Mazzone for letting Level Renner use this. Steve is very active in reporting on local races and his work appears in places like RunRhody.com, NE Runner and MileSplit.com. If interested, full race results can be found here.