The 38th Annual New Bedford Half Marathon successfully avoided the wintry mix and saw some great racing once again. The men’s race up front saw an early leader in former Boston College runner Louis Serafini as he controlled the pace from the gun and opened up a 50 meter gap through the mile in 4’43. Serafini’s early lead just seemed to be extending, but from about 4k on, Syracuse Track Club stud Sam Morse slowly worked his way up from the chase pack. By the four mile mark, Morse had Serafini reeled in and the two of them would work together and drop consistent splits in the 4’50s for the next five miles.
Morse, an engineer by day who is a former Clarkson University Nordic ski star, ran side by side with the Boston College grad and New Jersey native Serafini until just after 9 miles. Morse threw in a surge that broke Serafini and he was off and running with the victory. Morse would break the tape in 66’09 to win his first New Bedford Half title.
The chase pack would eventually catch Serafini and the battle for second came down to a classic Rhode Island battle between Matt Pelletier and Brian Doyle. The rookie Doyle, who just finished up his eligibility as a 5th year senior at Providence College, would take out the seasoned veteran (and 2012 champion) Pelletier in a lean at the finish line, both crossing in a time of 67’10. (rocking his father’s Johnson and Wales kit from the 80s). Brian is the son of the late Bobby Doyle, who was the inaugural New Bedford Half champion, and in his first appearance in the Whaling City he was rocking his father’s Johnson and Wales kit from the 80s.
Maybe the two didn’t know at the time, but they weren’t just battling it out down the stretch for second place. Since Morse isn’t a USATF-NE member, Pelletier and Doyle were battling it out for the USATF-NE championship. They couldn’t have scripted a more exciting finish. After Doyle nipped Pelletier at the line, he ended up on the ground, a sign that they two really pushed each other to the edge.
On the women’s side, Hilary Dionne, 29 (Charlestown, MA) was alone from the start and cruised to victory in 1:14:01. For the former champion (2012), this was a 51 second improvement upon her personal best set last year in the Whaling City. Behind Hilary, the ever improving Laura Hagley, 30, (Lebanon, NH) was second while Hopkinton native and Penn State Ph.D. candidate Lauren Philbrook, 27, finished 3rd.
Dionne, a 2:35 marathoner, was a heavy favorite entering the race especially with the absence of 3-time champion Kim Smith (who is pregnant). Although some thought the race was wide open without Smith, Hilary wasted no time and put on a dominant display of her own. Despite logging heavy mileage in her base phase leading up to Boston, Hilary showed no signs of fatigue and steadily increased her lead throughout the city side course. Reaching 6 miles in 33:36, Dionne continued to look very comfortable, running miles between 5:35-5:45 for the second half of the race while appearing to benefit from fellow male Boston Athletic Association teammates, Jason Reilly, Keven O’Neil and Brad Mish (although it was clear there was no intentional assistance provided). Turning onto the finishing stretch the only question remained was whether she would break the 1:14 barrier, something she missed out on by just 2 ticks.
The master’s division would be dominated by the ageless BAA stud Chris Magill, who was still able to pop a sub-71 minute half at age 42 after coming off of a busy indoor track season. Magill, who was second the last 2 years to teammate Mike Galoob, was able to pull away from Galoob after 7 miles. However, it didn’t end up being a big drop in the standings for Galoob, as he would be second over 40 male to cross the line in a time of 71’28. The top senior athlete on the day was Whirlaway’s Eric Williams of Concord, NH. Williams, the runner up in the senior division at national XC, traversed the course in 73’45. What was also impressive about the races run by the three aforementioned elders was that they contributed to the scoring efforts of their club’s open teams as well. Magill and Galoob were 3rd and 4th, respectively, for the winning BAA club. Williams was the 4th scorer for the 4th place Whirlaway men’s open team. Those guys certainly brought it.
In the women’s masters race, Christin Doneski (44, Hopkinton, MA) edged out Diana Bower (41, Waban, MA) by 8 seconds. It’s only natural to look at the 40-44 bracket to find the top masters runner. However, that was not the case on Sunday. Doneski and Bower were the top women in the 40-44 bracket, but it was actually 49 year old Mimi Fallon that was the top masters runner on the day. Mimi continues to defy the aging process and ran a brisk 84’41, a good 22 seconds ahead of Doneski. As we discussed in our race preview, Doneski doesn’t seem to lose much to open runners even, let alone other masters runners, so Mimi ran a heck of a race. In the women’s senior race, Trish Bourne (a member of the Greater Lowell Road runners) navigated the course well under 7 minute pace in finishing in 1:30:01.
In the men’s and women’s open team race, the Boston Athletic Association easily won the $500.00 top prize. In the women’s masters race, Whirlaway, led by Doneski, won the first place prize and on the men’s side, the BAA, led by Magill and Galoob, claimed the top prize.
There were 2394 finishes in this year’s race, the second leg in the competitive USATF NE Grand Prix Road Running series. Up next on the circuit is the Vermont City Marathon to be held 05/24/2015. Check out http://www.usatfne.org/road/gp.html for more information.
This article was a joint effort by Jim Dandeneau, Mike Giberti and EJN. Jim and Mike were on the lead vehicles, with Mike following the lead men and Jim with the lead ladies, while EJN was stationed at the start/finish hamming it up for the camera.