When you hear ‘late afternoon in August’, you’re probably not thinking cross country. For some it’s too early, but for the rest of us the call of the trails can’t be denied. The 2015 USATF-NE cross country grand prix series kicked off Saturday afternoon in ‘Manch Vegas’ with the New Hampshire Cross Country Festival.
A couple of teams rolled into this series opener strong, making a statement to the others out there: bring your A game to the ensuing races!
The men’s race was up for grabs early on. The lead pack, heavy on the Greater Boston colors, ran through the first mile a little on sluggish side (around 5:15 from what we’ve heard), trying to feel out the opposition. Eric Couture was the first to make a move and led the charge up the first climb just after a mile. According to his teammate Jonathan Charlesworth, that made the race right there.
From there the race really shook out and it, as they say, was on. Right around two miles in, Charlesworth caught his GBTC teammate Couture and raced ahead for the win.
Charlesworth broke the tape in 15:52, a nice win for him after a tough few weeks of training.
The women’s race didn’t have the pack that men’s race did, but the race for the tape was much closer than the men’s. It came down to Laura Hagley (representing the host club Millennium Running) versus former World Champ mountain runner Kasie Enman, and Hagley didn’t pass up on her chance to avenge her loss from a few weeks ago.
Back at the USATF-NE 5 mile championship (the Bobby Doyle Summer Classic), Enman outran Hagly 28:32 to 28:43. Hagley was able to use the short course to her advantage, and in the closer race her speed was the difference. Laura came through first in 17:42, with Kasie just behind her in 17:45. The gap between them didn’t grow much from early on in the race, so it was close pretty much all the way through.
Jason Cakouros was the top senior runner, coming in at 18:15 and 39th overall.
As far as the team competition went, the GBTC won it running away with a score of 30. However, the real battle was for second, which CMS got over HFC by a score of 70-72. CMS was led by Scott Leslie, while HFC was led by TJ Unger (6th, 16:26).
The battle for the top spot in the women’s race was much closer, but host club Millennium eked out the win over Whirlaway. Just check out the team scoring:
Millennium - 27 (1, 2, 6, 7, 11)
Whirlaway - 38 (3, 4, 9, 10, 12)
Whirlaway, led by Helen Dinan & Amy Bernard, put up a heck of a fight but couldn’t match the combo of Hagley, Young and Slason that Millennium countered with.
There was a community 5k that preceded this, and that was won by Christopher Blais in 19:19 and Stacy Griffin in 19:38 (3rd overall).