The 2015 USATF-NE road Grand Prix Series came to a close on Sunday with the Lone Gull 10k. As you may have seen here, there were a couple of things on the line that were even bigger than the New England 10k titles: the overall male and female series titles.
Both Louis Serafini and Katie Misuraca held delicate leads over their closest rivals in the Association, and both held serve. In what proved to be a very exciting race, Louis and Katie both came away with overall wins to seal the deal on their series titles.
“I was actually fairly confident going in that I could win this one,” said Heartbreaker Louis Serafini. “Training has been great and the 10k is turning out to be a great distance for me. The pace felt comfortable from the gun and I controlled the majority of the race. It was just a matter of staying within myself and trusting that I’d have a little finishing speed.”
By staying within himself, he means running a 15:01 for the first 5k of the race. What a beast! The stacked field got out predictably fast, aided by the stiff breeze at their backs, and hit the first mile in a blistering 4:42. After thinning the herd a little bit, things settled down but not by much (4:55, 4:51).
The splits coming back are probably even more impressive considering the fatigue setting in, the sun peaking out from behind the clouds and the wind that was trying to convince runners to drop out. In the face of all of that, Louis still ran 4:59, 4:50, and 5:03 for the last three.
Although it was Matt Pelletier that was breathing down his neck in the GPS standings, this race came down to Louis vs Ruben Sança. “Key point in the race had to be the last quarter mile. I’ve been racking up the miles the past 2 weeks and I wasn’t sure what kind of kick I would have. I made the final push with around 400 to go to see if I could get some separation. Once I had 10-15 meters I knew I had it.”
Louis threw his arms in the air triumphantly, a smile on his face…he earned the right to celebrate a little. But like he said, it wasn’t until just before the line. He had a lead on Ruben, but it wasn’t much. The final times were 30:25 for Louis and 30:28 for Sança.
They had a little gap on the field before the next battle was settled. Chris Stadler was seemingly about to lose to Glarius Rop but he must’ve flipped some sort of nitro booster switch and surged ahead of Rop just before the line. To everybody but those right at the finish line, it looked as is Glarius had taken 3rd. Somehow Chris out kicked Rop, which happens about as often as unicorn rodeos around here.
In 5th was the elder statesman of this year’s series, Matt Pelletier. He gave the young upstart a run for his money, but his 31:09 wasn’t enough to overtake the young Serafini.
For the women, Katie Misuraca had a slim lead over second place Laura Hagley, and she had never won a Grand Prix race before. The checklist for the day was daunting: hold off Hagley, win a series race. By running a 35:52, Katie was able to throw a couple of big checks down in those boxes.
For Katie to get her first win under these circumstances, and having competition like Hagley and Laura Paulsen to compete with, it was no small feat. When asked how it felt to cement the GPS series title in such a manner, and in a field featuring Laura Paulsen and Laura Hagley, Katie said: “It was really nice to get the win — especially since it was in my hometown. I did feel a bit of added pressure to do my city proud. Besides, if there’s a pair of Laura’s I’ve hoped to beat, it’s the Hagley/Paulsen duo. As it seems, I have luck on my side since given their credentials they have things like the Olympic Trials and National 10-Mile Championships on their plate… leaving chump change like me the chance to sneak in and snag a 10k title Thank you, Laura H.&P.”
Katie’s very humble in her responses, but her race results this year have been anything but. This is the same woman who finished 4th overall at the Mt Washington Road Race back in June. If that doesn’t scream the challenge “come and get me!” then what does? She was due for a New England title, and the hard work paid off on Sunday.
But it wasn’t easy. Hagley put up a fight and it was close. “They key point in the race for me was to get out quickly,” said Katie. “Strategically speaking, I went out aggressively because I hoped to put a bit of a gap on the rest of the field. This may have been what made the win possible. However in terms of running a fast time it was ultimately self-sabotage. I had to work really hard not to fall apart in the last few miles.”
In the end, Katie had only 8 seconds on Laura, with Laura coming through the chute in 36:00. Laura Paulsen was next in 36:25, followed by Caitlin Sheedy (36:37) and Lorna Young (literally in 36:46).
Young and Hagley were also the top two for Millennium Running, which needed a small miracle to overtake Whirlaway for the overall series team title. Trailing by 2 points coming in, they needed to win the 10k and see Whirlaway finish 4th. Smart money was probably on Whirlaway, just because finishing 4th for them would’ve been unexpected to say the least…but that’s exactly what happened.
Said Jennifer Mortimer, one of the stars of Millennium (who’s currently sidelined), “After winning the series last year, we made it a goal to get back out there and try to repeat it. After falling behind after the marathon, it’s been a game of catch up. We had so many different contributors from our team to make this victory even more special. It’s truly been a fun 2015 and we’re looking forward to 2016!”
It’s truly remarkable that they pulled it off, especially considering they were missing key contributors such as herself and Denise Sandahl (who incidentally 2nd and 1st in last year’s overall individual GPS standings).
For the masters, Chris Magill picked up yet another USATF-NE title, but it was close. Chris crossed (see what we did there?) in 33:40, 29th overall, but had Greg Putnam hot on his heels in 33:52. Right behind Greg was Peter Hammer in 33:54. The women had a competitive bunch as well, although spaced out just a tad further. Regina Loiacano was tops in 38:14, followed by Christin Doneski in 38:39 and Amory Salem in 38:46. All three of those times placed them within the top 15 women overall.
Doug Martyn of Whirlaway was the top senior runner in 35:02 (58th overall). Maria Servin, also of Whirlaway, was the fastest senior woman on the day. Maria ran a 38:33 and at the ripe young age of 53 she ran the 12th fastest time of any woman out there. That deserves a standing ‘O’, no? You’re on the honor system, but we expect you stand up and clap, wherever you may be reading this.
More on the standings, etc, once they’re updated. We’ll also have more statistical analysis on the race coming later.