It was a hot one on Saturday morning. Maybe the heat wasn’t overwhelming, but it certainly was uncomfortably muggy. The thick, sticky air enveloping the Gordon College campus combined with the site of the botanical swamp-looking foliage on the trails made it seem like the Kupenda 5 Mile Trail Race was being run somewhere in the Everglades.
Maybe it was the heat, maybe it was simply a case of the leaders getting a feel for the field, but the pace was appropriately sluggish right off the line. While the lead men were waiting for someone else, anyone, to make a move and get the race going, Emma Kosciak simply took off. Emma had her own strategy in mind and was set on executing it.
Emma knew there was some speed in the field, including runners like Jennifer Howland and Jenn Brooks, whom she battled with in the past couple of races in the series. Instead of waiting for the race to develop later, Emma took it out hard and tried to put as much distance between her and the other top women as quickly as possible. Unfortunately she soon found herself running alone since the men were apparently running a strategic race.
Narcisi found himself in an odd position not even a quarter of a mile into the race: not quite in good enough shape to be a front runner, but also not having the desire to sit in a pack as the race got into some possibly tricky terrain. Pride won out over logic, and Eric threw in a surge, getting an ‘it’s about time!’ reaction from Emma as he ran by. The other men followed suit, and after a brief tenth of a mile or so of leading, Jim Pawlicki flew by and firmly took control of the race. It was a control he would not relinquish.
In last year’s race, Jim lost a close one, finishing third to winner David Long and runner-up Matt Curran. Jim was fresh off of VCM and not quite ready to rumble. This year was different, and Jim was looking for the win. Not only would he have to deal with David and Matt again, but Dan Verrington made the trip this year as well.
With the slow start a distant memory, Pawlicki blazed trails for the rest of the field, even sending an occasional snake slithering off into the brush like some sort of St. Patrick of Wenham. Although Jim ended up with a relatively large lead, he couldn’t resist the urge to look back since he knew what both David and Matt were capable of.
Jim crossed the line victorious in 29:15, which was two seconds slower than David’s winning time from last year, but since the course changed slightly it gave Jim’s victory the distinction of also being a course record setter. Long came in at 29:55 (and was the top masters runner), followed by a couple of senior runners (Verrington and Curran). The seniors ran quite well, with Verrigton’s 30:04 providing just enough of a cushion to hold off Curran (30:29). Narcisi survived his early surge and held on to finish 5th (30:45).
For the ladies, Kosciak and Brooks battled back and forth, and despite the courageous early race tactics by Emma it still came down to a kick. Jenn’s kick was too much for Emma to handle, and she was able to get put a couple of seconds between the two. Jenn crossed the line in 33:16, followed by Emma’s 33:18. Simonetia Piergenti (17th overall, 34:45) was the top masters runner and Ellen Poveromo (29th overall, 38:01) was the top senior runner.
For more on the race, check out:
In all there were 123 runners in this year’s race. We’d also like to commend the organizers and volunteers on a job well done. The race director was unable to attend due to a death in the family, but the rest of the Kupenda team stepped up and still managed to put on a great event. The course was well-marked and there were plenty of volunteers out there cheering and directing.