By Jim Dandeneau
On October 12th, 24 year old, Erica Jesseman of Scarborough, Maine raced to victory in the 2013 Hartford Marathon in a course record 2:38:13. This was her 3rd appearance at Hartford; previously winning in 2011 (2:45:00) and finishing 2nd (2:46:59) in 2012. With the victory, the 2011 University of New Hampshire grad obtained the “B” standard (under 2:43:00; “A” standard is under 2:37:00) securing a place in the 2016 United States Marathon Olympic Trials.
Entering the race, Jesseman was not certain what to expect considering 2:35 marathoner Heidi Westover (Walpole, NH) was entered along with Ethiopian youngster Aregash Abate. At the onset, after watching Westover and Abate take off at a faster clip, she was content to run sub 6 minute miles with defending Hartford champion Hilary Dionne (Cambridge, Ma). However, by 4.5 miles, Jesseman had already caught Westover (who appeared to be suffering from a hamstring issue) and continued to run consistent miles ranging from 5:50-5:58, catching Abate by 12.5 miles and gradually pulling away, slightly slowing in the last 3-4 miles.
Jesseman was elated with the victory, “This is my 5th marathon and I finally got it right. I stayed hydrated and drank fluids at every water station. I knew I had my work cut out for me with Heidi and Hilary running…. I felt very good.” The self-coached Hartford champion trained extraordinarily hard for this event putting in high volume work, maxing out for 5 weeks, (120miles/week) during a mid-August-September 20th training block adding speed work with fellow Maine marathon extraordinaires Sheri Piers and Kristin Barry. After a disappointing tune-up half marathon a month prior to her goal race, she dropped her mileage “significantly” to “in the 80’s” in order to rest and focus at the task at hand. A 16:17 road 5K 2 weeks out boosted her confidence tremendously heading into the race.
Recently, she resigned her position as assistant cross-country/track coach at St. Joseph’s College to decide her future plans. Presently, she is exploring the possibility of joining a post collegiate training group. She understands she is young only once and feels it is what God is calling her to do. “I’m healthy, motivated, not married, and do not have any student loans. I really feel, with the right training, I can run in the low 2:30’s by 2016.” Up next though, is some well-deserved down time prior to a likely assault on the indoor track circuit with a focus on breaking the 16 minute barrier for 5000 meters leading into her Spring Marathon, “hopefully Boston, to honor the victims of last year’s tragedy”.
With her unbelievable work ethic and tenacity one can be sure to see big things to come from this northern New England competitor.