Brandon Newbould and Regina Loiacano got the wins on Saturday at the Merrimack River Trail Race, a popular 10 miler along the mighty Merrimack Rivah. The big question right before the start wasn’t ‘who will win?’, but more ‘which way will I approach The Glacier?’.
About a quarter mile into the race, the path ducks under the route 93 bridge. On the far side of it this year was an ugly remnant of the nasty winter we had: a glacier-like snow pile. The options:
a.) Go straight, sticking to the left of the abutment. There was a bit of a path carved out, but it was tricky to navigate.
b.) Go high, and although you’d be adding a few steps and still crossing over some snow, it’d be the most clear option.
c.) Go to the right of the abutment, which basically meant you’d be running on the large flat surface of the slabs of rock placed on the water’s edge. It was narrow, and one false step meant the Rivah would claim you.
The gun went off and the field was quickly funneled onto the winding, muddy path that led to the underpass. More than a few people went to the ground in the scramble for position heading out. Breaking clear of it hastily was the lead pack, featuring Newbould, Jim Johnson, Kevin Tilton and about eight others.
At the bridge, Johnson went high, Newbould took the treacherous path by the water, and Tilton and most of the rest went straight through. The leaders opened up a gap, and little by little Newbould pulled away. Things appeared to be in hand until under a mile to go, when Brandon took a peek back and saw that Tilton and Johnson were suddenly bearing down on him. With one last push, Newbould was able to keep the lead and hold it through the line.
Here’s an interview with Brandon after the race:
Dave Dunham’s River Recap
This was the largest field in the 23 year history of the race with 306 finishers that topped the previous high of 294 in 2000. It was also the largest women’s field with 113 finishers, topping the old record of 88 in 2000. Women made up 36% of the field which was the highest percentage, exceeding the 32% from 1992.
Brandon Newbould took the overall victory in 60:23 16 seconds up on Kevin Tilton and 38 seconds ahead of 2013 champion Jim Johnson. The winning time was the slowest since 2001 when the course was partially flooded. Perhaps the glacier under route 93 slowed the leaders? This was Kevin Tilton’s 9th finish, all of which were in the top three. He has three wins, five second place finishes and one third place.
Regina Loiacano beat her Team Gloucester club-mate Jenn Brooks by 2:39 to top the women’s field. Her 1:10:12 was the 9th fastest time ever run. It was also a new 40-49 age group record (by over 4 minutes) and the single-age record for age 40.
The only other age group record set was the women juniors (00-19). The young ladies from southern NH stormed in and placed 6-13th overall in the women’s field. Amazingly they ran the eight fastest times ever for that category. Hannah Parker set the new CR for juniors with her 1:22:50 taking over 6 minutes off of the previous record.
In addition to Loiacano’s single age record, the following were set: Meg Scannell (F15), Hannah Parker (F16), Katie Scannell (F17), Mary Fowle (F18), Julie Haynes (F55).
On the men’s side Ethan Nedeau took 2 minutes off of the Age 41 record (and also ran the 6th fastest 40-49 time). Steve Whittey took 5 minutes off the age 57 record. Bob Gillis also took 5 minutes off the age 59 record. Pete Westover took 7 ½ minute off of the age 69 record.
Tom Speidel continued his finishing streak. He is the only runner to have completed all 23 of the races. Carol Comeau and Dave Geary have the next longest streak having run the last 12.
Bill Morse became the newest member of the ‘100 mile club’ with his 10th finish this year. There are now 26 members of the club and they have combined for a total of 3,540 miles.
For more on the race, check out the Merrimack River Trail Race blog and also find more pics here on the Double D Mountain Runner Shutterfly page. The next race in the North Shore Trail Series is the Pipestave Hill 5K Trail Run on May 1st.