The Masters Race
It was only fitting that California resident and Irish native Christine Kennedy set the new W60 record at the James Joyce Ramble. Irishman James Joyce told stories with his pen and Kennedy let her legs write her way into the record book today. After she made a most impressive statement with a time of 39:26, I caught up with her and asked about her race strategy. “Today was to try to break the 60 US record and I figured this was a great place to do it,” she answered. “I tried to run around 6:15 pace…I saw the guys and decided to chase the boys.”
Kennedy did check her splits throughout the race but didn’t feel she had the record secured until the very end. When asked when she felt she had the record, she replied, “When I crossed the finish line.”
Kennedy was hoping that previous record holder Kathryn Martin would be here to defend her title but it wasn’t to be. Hopefully, the two will be able to square off head-to-head sometime soon.
The overall winner of the masters race was Marisa Strange from NY. She dominated the race from the very early stages and was never challenged. She finished in 37:00 (5:58 pace). Local Greater Lowell Road Runner (and Legion member) Kara Haas came in second place. She ran 37:46 (6:05 pace). Third place was Renee Tolan of Clifton Park, NY. She clocked 38:00 (6:07 pace).
About how the race unfolded Mimi Fallon of the BAA said, “We had a nice pack, probably 5 or 6 women all running together for at least half of the race and then we broke up.” Fallon placed fourth in the masters race with a time of 38:30 (6:10 pace). And as for the weather, Fallon said it was “perfect.”
Liz Cooney, who ran Boston a mere six days ago, said this about her performance: “I started out fairly strong. The first few miles were fun. Then it was not so fun when the hills came but I’m really pleased. I had a great time with my teammates. Jen Rapaport decided to pace me, which is always lovely.” Racing a national championship less than a week after a marathon is no small task and Cooney, along with all the others who completed this double, should be commended.
In the men’s race, the Atlanta Track Club dominated, winning both the individual and team titles. Kristian Blaich, 48, won in a blazing time of 33:22 (5:23 pace). He was followed by Dave Dechellis (33:44) of Whirlaway and Kent Lemme (33:48) of Greater Springfield. Lemme took the race out hard with Blaich and the two of them set the tone for the day. This was racing and competing at its finest.
Rounding out the top 5 for the men were Ethan Nedeau (34:00) of acidotic Racing and Spyros Barres (34:09) of the Mohegan Striders.
While the Atlanta Track Club won the team title, the Central Mass Striders and Boston Athletic Association finished second and third, respectively. Joe Shairs, Todd Callaghan, and Jim Pawlicki were the scorers for CMS and Harry Stants, Chris Lawrence, and Keven O’Neil scored for BAA.
Pawlicki was happy with his own performance and perhaps even a little surprised by his place and time. He ran 34:44. He was the third and final man for CMS and it was his kick that helped secure second place by only two seconds over BAA.
The top runner for the BAA almost didn’t make it. Harry Stants was returning from a family vacation and experienced flight delays which resulted in a bedtime of 0100. Open runners might not think this a big deal, but those on the plus-side of forty know just how vital sleep is to racing. When asked about his race, Stants confessed that he was “just kind of numb from feeling so tired.” Sometimes numb can be good because Stants ran 34:17 for sixth place.
Chris Lawrence, also of the BAA, said this about his race: “I tried to stay with my guy Harry… I felt strong until about 4 miles. There were a couple hills there and at that point I started to struggle. Overall a good race, not a great race. Place-wise pretty good, time-wise a little slower than I wanted to be.”
Keven O’Neil finished in 15th, one place behind Lawrence, and admitted, “I struggled a bit. I’m not in the shape I need to be to run with these guys.” Despite the harsh self-critism, O’Neil ran 5:37 pace for a 34:54.
The masters BAA squad was missing some of their top racers: Chris Magill, Mike Galoob, Wayne Levy, Peter Hammer, and Pat Callahan (the last three won the masters title at the Boston Marathon) all sat out.
This race attracts runners from near and far. Derrick Staley of the NY-based Willow Street AC, placed third in M55-59 division in a time of 35:45. This was his first time at the Ramble. He said that he and some teammates “drove the course yesterday” and assessed it as such, “Tough course. Not a fast course.”
Staley, not accustomed to the delayed open race start, was a bit surprised when the open men flew by him five miles into the race. He said, “I didn’t know what was going on at first. I saw the winner blow past me and I thought ‘this guy’s got energy’ and I had no idea and then I found out he was the winner of the open.”
That must’ve been quite a relief for Staley, who raced hard throughout the race. He continued, “I was by myself. I had nobody to push me. For the last three miles up until the end it was just all me.” Staley was one of the many who had to adjust racing expectations due to the lack of open runners out there with him. It proved quite easy to find oneself in no man’s land.
Staley’s teammate Volker Burkowski (16th; 34:57) managed a PR despite the tough course. “I felt good the first five miles and struggled the last,” Burkowski said. He also attributed his PR to the level of competition at today’s event. “That’s what got it for me.”
The Open Race
In the men’s open race, Amos Sang (30:03; 4:51 pace) defended his crown. He took it out from the gun and never looked back. He led a small pack through the first mile and a half or so, then made it a solo effort.
Matt Pelletier, who is training for VCM, was not in that small pack through 1.25 miles but did eventually move his way up into second overall. He ran 30:46 (4:58 pace).
The third place finisher was Brian Doyle. Last time he raced Pelletier (NBHM) it was a sprint to the finish. That wasn’t the case today. Doyle finished 38 seconds in arrears of Pelletier for a time of 31:24.
Rounding out the top ten were Chris Stadler, Steve Pilito, Adam Pacheck, David Bedoya, Scott Mindel, Francis Cusick, and Lee Danforth.
In the women’s division, Alecandra Varanka of Arlington took the crown. She ran 5:50 pace and broke the tape in 36:15. Kaela O’Neil, who is married to Keven, of the BAA came in second with a time of 36:24 (5:52 pace).
Through the first two miles a pack of three women were battling it out. Varanka, O’Neil, and Sara Dunham (3rd; 36:35). O’Neil said, Varanka “went out at two miles. We [Dunham and herself] went back and forth until probably the last mile.”
The masters received a head start over the open races and O’Neil said she started catching them at the halfway mark. She said the delayed start propelled her performance: “The masters were super encouraging, cheering us on as we went. A huge motivator.”
Top open women placing 4-10 were Flora Berklein, Kristin Quaresimo, Leslie Gilleo, Kalli White, Jackie Lemme, Lauren Novogratz, and Taylor Krajewski.
See below for video clips, individual and team results.
Open racers @JJRamble A video posted by Level Renner (@levelrenner) on
— Level Renner (@levelrenner) April 26, 2015
— Level Renner (@levelrenner) April 26, 2015
Complete results here.