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Trials Qualifier for Huebner

Breakthrough Race for Huebner at Grandma’s Leads to an OTQ

By Mike Giberti

Remember reading about Andrew Huebner, that guy from Portsmouth, NH who shattered the course record at the Eastern States 20 Miler back in March? Well he had an even bigger race last weekend out in Duluth, MN and qualified for the 2016 Olympic Trials Marathon with a 2:17:05 finish for 14th overall at Grandma’s Marathon. We caught up with Andrew with a little Q&A on his accomplishment. Here’s what he had to say:

How did the race pan out for you?

I was really happy with how everything seemed to fall into place. At the start, a group of about 20 guys took off running what seemed like sub 5 pace. I said “no thanks!” to that and hung back running 5:15s for the opening miles. The most helpful thing that happened in the race (and a huge reason I wanted to go to Grandma’s in the first place) was that a nice group of 8 or 9 guys started to assemble right at the beginning who were all trying to run the 2:18 B standard. There was lots of chatter about it initially, and we organized ourselves into a nice little team working for a common goal. I was feeling comfortable, almost to a fault- I got antsy a few times when I felt the pace slow down and took over the lead, trying to push the pace a little more. I went through the half in 1:08:59, not leaving much room for error in the second half! I stuck in with this group until about 20 miles

What was the turning point of the race?

The turning point for me came around the 20 mile point when I broke away from this group. I knew we were basically right on pace, maybe 15-20 seconds under 2:18 at that point- and I was getting a little stressed that I would be cutting it too close going into the last few miles. I was feeling pretty strong still and I wanted to give myself a little more cushion, which is why I decided to basically lay it all out there at this point. The ups and downs of that last 10k would be too much to go into detail about- but I’m pretty sure I touched on both ends of the emotional and physical spectrum. Never having run a marathon at these speeds, I wasn’t exactly sure how my body would hold up until I got to 23, 24, 25, etc. It was an incredible grind mentally too. With 5K to go, having trained for this race for basically 6 months with little time for anything else, I realized now it was all coming down to my performance over these next 15 minutes.

What aspect of the race did you struggle with most?

My biggest struggle in the race was trusting this group of guys that we wouldn’t be cutting it too close or leaving too much work to do at the end of the race. Looking back, most of them were probably more experienced marathon runners than me- so I’m glad I didn’t lose it and try to speed away from them too early. Because I would’ve probably faded by the end!

How did it feel after crossing the line knowing you earned a ticket to race the trials in two years?

I didn’t let myself think I had done it until I actually crossed the line. It was an amazing feeling. Months of work and preparation, anticipation, all the weight of that stuff- just melted away in a matter of seconds. I just dropped my arms down and felt such a wave of relief. I think it was relief mostly because I knew deep down that I was capable of this kind of race- it was just a matter of executing it. And even though I knew I was capable, my window to qualify was fairly narrow!

What lies next on your racing schedule (after some well-earned rest)?

I’m not sure what my next plans are. I’m still coming off the highs of this race. My initial feelings are that I’d like to get out there and do more racing in general this summer and fall. Shorter distances at first. With the shape I’m in now I could probably PR in just about any distance which is a pretty cool feeling!

Looks like this guy is in fantastic shape! Watch for him to continue to break records in road races all over New England this summer. The LVL Legion wishes him the best in his training and upcoming races.

Here is video of Huebner way out front in the initial steps of the Granite State 10 Miler last October. He went on to win the race in a course record time of 51’39”.

Hall, Hagley Win Shaker Seven

Upper Valley Duo Snags Gold Medals in Enfield

hall smith

Alex Hall (L) and Rich Smith (R) match each other stride for stride.

By Mike Giberti

The Shaker Seven Road Race in Enfield, NH served as the third installment of the New Hampshire Grand Prix and saw some solid results. Alex Hall, already having won the first race in the NHGP, took the crown at the third race as well with his finishing time of 38’44” with master’s Upper Valley Running Club teammate Rich Smith coming across the line in 39’22” for second. On the women’s side of things, RibFest 5 Mile runner-up Laura Hagley (this time representing the Upper Valley Running Club) cruised to victory in 41’37”, just seven seconds ahead of teammate Lorna Young.

UVRC may have had the most talented individuals at the race, but they were edged out by the Greater Derry Track Club in team points by a slim 2 point margin (scores of 163 to 161). The Gate City Striders placed a distant third accumulating 92 points. The point spread Greater Derry had over Gate City in this event puts them 16 points ahead of Gate City to take over the series lead after three races. Upper Valley made up some ground, but still sits in third place overall as a team.

Team Scores (Shaker 7):

  1. Greater Derry Track Club – 163
  2. Upper Valley Running Club – 161
  3. Gate City Striders – 92
  4. Granite State Racing Team – 22
  5. Rochester Runners – 4
  6. NH Athletic Alliance – 1

Overall Series Point Totals (after three races):

  1. Greater Derry Track Club – 458
  2. Gate City Striders – 442
  3. Upper Valley Running Club – 307
  4. Granite State Racing Team – 55
  5. White Mountain Milers – 28
  6. Rochester Runners – 12
  7. NH Athletic Alliance - 1

Check out the official results here.

Laura Hagley broke the tape just ahead of Lorna Young.

Laura Hagley broke the tape just ahead of Lorna Young.

Veiga Wins…Just As We Predicted

The following is a Q&A we conducted with Jeff Veiga shortly after he won the USATF-NE 5 mi championship at the Ribfest race. Jeff ran a 24:19.26 for the win, which was his second consecutive Grand Prix title (after having won the USATF-NE 5k championship back in March). Currently he sits in 6th place in the series standings. Oh wait, they just haven’t been updated yet. Okay, no big deal, we can figure it out by our own rough calculation and see that he would probably be in 3rd place, behind Sança and Ashe.

Am I reading too much into your last status update, or does #comeback imply that you’ve been battling some injuries?

I was actually hurt from the fall of last year up until the beginning of January this year. That was the longest period I have gone without running due to injury since I started running, and I strongly considered hanging up the spikes. But so far this year I have been relatively healthy and have raced pretty well, but I decided with my fellow 01852TrainingCamp partner, Dan Roark, that I should continue the #comeback until I actually PR (although that seems like it’s not going to happen this year unfortunately).

At what point did you start to gain separation on Harvey, Jenksin & Ashe?

An Ras Mor Park Veiga Doucett

Jeff and Larissa Park, after their An Ras Mor wins back in March. Courtesy of Lisa Doucett.

Right at 2 miles I just opened up, and started stringing the field along. Jenkins and Ashe came with me for a while but by 3 miles I was by myself for the rest of the way.

With the headwind and the hills at the start, did you take it out a little slower, maybe try to feel things out a bit?

With it being a 5 mile race, no real time incentive, and the little bit of wind, I wasn’t going to go balls to the wall from the gun. So yeah, I just kind of sat in the pack like everyone else, led a little bit here and there for the first two miles, until I felt comfortable and confident increasing the pace.

How much did our pre-race snub fuel your drive to win?

Not too much. I actually only found out about it from my teammate, and fellow 01852TrainingCamp partner, Ethan Brown, right before we started warming up. I talked to Ethan Brown and Dan Roark about the race days before and we all pretty much agreed that I was going to be the best guy out there within the USATF-NE Grand Prix Series, and that it should be an easy win, unless someone random showed up.

If this is the end result, should we continue to snub you?

I mean I love winning, but I think that only happened because of all the work I put in, so I much rather have a little shout-out instead of nothing at all, but I mean who doesn’t.

Have you raced beyond the 5k distance much in the past?

Plenty of times, I’ve excelled the most in Cross Country over 10k, and I should really attempt a fast Half Marathon, but I have yet to grow the balls to do so.

How does this time compare?

I have run 29:07 for 10k in the past, so 24:19 is a decent time for me, but nothing crazy. The time isn’t too bad after taking into account that it was slow at the beginning, I didn’t really have anyone to really race with after 3 miles, and not having to kick it in hard. I was eying 23:20 if the weather was permitting and I really felt like cranking one out.

What’s next?

No idea, just taking it day by day for now as I’m winding down my current training cycle.

Ayr Runs Well, Loses Bet

Is the Level Legion developing a gambling problem? First Tom Derderian lost his shirt, now Jason Ayr will temporarily lose control of his Instagram account.

Ayr had a bet with his WMDP teammate Nico Naranjo. Ayr lost that bet. But we shouldn’t lose site of the fact that he still ran a pretty good race. Jason finished 6th overall in a JP Morgan Chase Corporate Challenge field that had plenty of depth. But…Jason’s 17:34 missed the 17:30 mark that the bet was focused on.

The race and more are all covered in this, the first of our Sunset Interviews on the Charles series. Enjoy:

Lesson learned: be careful not to make any big bets after running a sick workout with Ruben Sança. For more on this race, including race footage, check out: Couture, Donahue Up to the Challenge.

Couture, Donahue Up to the Challenge

Typically the JP Morgan Chase Corporate Challenge seems to be run on an ungodly hot night in Boston. This year, it actually wasn’t that bad. Eric Couture and Sara Donahue took advantage of the better conditions and got the wins tonight.

Eric, in his US Bank team singlet, ran a 17:01 and overcame the late race lead that Zach Schwartz had. Zach was out in front when he went by the Level’s viewing spot just before they made the turn onto Arlington. Couture overcame that deficit and ended up with a slight two second cushion over Schwartz. The two them had a little gap on the rest of the field. Places 2 through 7 all came in between 17:25 to 17:37, including names like Combs, Mindel, Pitts and Ayr.

The women were a little more spread out, but it was a close one between eventual winner Sara Donahue (ABT Associates) and Melissa Nash (Fidelity Investments) until the end. Donahue had a slight lead near the turn onto Arlington St, and Nash couldn’t close it. In fact, Donahue built on it a bit and ended up about eight seconds up on Nash by the finish line (19:21 to 19:29). Caitlin Fahey and Kerri Leonhardt came along about a minute later in third and fourth place.

Check out our interview with Jason Ayr, 6th place finisher on the men’s side.

Hincman-Francavilla edges Tinger at NERC 10 Mile Classic

The supposed Level Renner curse doesn’t only affect Nate Jenkins. No, it also seems to be brining down Mariah Tinger. We’ve seen the Somerville Road Runner at two very recent races, and in both of those she came in second. This time she may be more to blame since brought some more competition along with her. Julia Hincman-Francavilla joined her friend Mariah at the race and ended up with the win. The two were only separated by a fraction of a second; Julia ran a 1:06:27.6 to Mariah’s 1:06:27.7.

In all seriousness it was more of a good training run effort between two new training partners, and the final clock reading showed Julia with a slight edge.


Lampert Performs Well in the Spotlight

Craig Lampert was the featured runner for the New England Running Company 10 Mile Classic road race. It was something new for us (a joint venture between us and NERC), and we couldn’t be happier with the way it turned out. It’s a great way to put another runner in the spotlight and hopefully we can feature more of these going forward.

Craig did quite well in the first edition of this race, running a 1:16:55.1 and placing 50th overall. Here’s Craig’s big Level Renner feature interview:

Payne Dominate in Mt Washington Debut

Payne Mason Mt Washington

Payne running strong against a beautiful, clear backdrop…before the race took her up into the clouds. Courtesy of Scott Mason Photo.

For Shannon Payne, her mountain running experience started when the gun went off at the Mt Washington Road Race on Saturday. It seems almost hard to believe that the the 28 year old University of Colorado at Colorado Springs alumni (who lives and trains in Colorado Springs still) hadn’t run up one before. Could’ve fooled us. Shannon ran up the  Rockpile like an old pro and her 1:10:12 was the fifth fastest time ever run by a woman there. It was a deep field all around and Shannon placed 19th overall.

Right now, Shannon’s living the running dream: she runs for Boulder Running Company/Adidas Race Team (also works at the BRC), does some race timing, and a little freelance writing. Shannon even lives with a couple of elite marathoners and an ultra runner, and as she said to us, “there’s a lot of running going down around here.” Indeed. Judging by how she did at Mt Washington, it must be some very fast running.

Here’s our Q&A with the new Queen of the Rockpile:

What made you decide to race up the Rockpile?

Payne Viger Mt Washington II

Payne climbs the last wall, courtesy of Joe Viger Photography.

I’ve always wanted to try some more ascent type races because longer hill type workouts and runs and the more grind-it-out type stuff have always been my favorite, so I was curious as to what would happen if I tried something all uphill, but I was always busy doing more road, track and cross country. So on a whim a couple months ago I went out to run Black Canyon because I had several friends who were headed out there and it sounded intriguing. Admittedly I wasn’t super-prepared at that time for something that was just uphill, but it went really well, I loved it, and decided to try something bigger. I actually had signed up for Mt. Washington last year as per the suggestion of a friend, but I had some injury stuff and I never ran it.

Is there anything you did special to prepare for the this race specifically?

We have a ton of places out here that are ideal to train for something like this. I have to give a shout-out to our local favorite mountain runner Simon Guitierrez here, because I think a lot of the workouts that were given to me to prepare for it were taken from some of what he does. We have a road that runs up Cheyenne Canyon (Cheyenne Canon Road), and I’d say it closely mimics the grade and terrain of Mt. Washington more than anything else around here, even though it’s less than half the distance. So I did some stuff out there where, even though the duration’s not as long as Mt. Washington, it’s at a harder effort. We also have Rampart Range Road out near Garden of the Gods, it’s not as steep but you can get in some pretty good distance at a hard effort. There were a number of other good workouts in there too; fartleks on steeper, more technical terrain, and shorter, harder efforts up some pretty steep stuff, and overall just keeping a decent amount of mileage every week.

The top 5 women this year finished faster than last year’s winning time. Were you planning on a battle with a much faster, deeper field this year?

I actually hardly know any of the big names on the mountain running scene other than the folks from Colorado (of which there are a lot). I also didn’t really know what constituted a good time on Mt. Washington. So I kind of went into it without a whole bunch of expectations. Mostly I really wanted to make the team for the WMRA Long Distance Challenge, which I knew I’d probably need to win it to earn a spot, so I wanted to give it the best effort I could.

What was the key point in the race for you?

I’d say it was somewhere around mile 2. I was with a few guys and I knew Brandy (Erholtz) and Valentina (Belotti) weren’t far behind. I kept thinking to myself that there was no way I should be ahead of these stud mountain runners, so they must know something I don’t, and if I start going now then I might blow up because they know what they’re doing and I kind of have no clue. But then I remembered kind of feeling the same way at Black Canyon, and that I did just kind of start going and pulling away and hat was able to keep going and that I didn’t blow up, so why not try it again today? So it was right around there when I decided to just not be afraid and just give it shot and see what happens.

What part of the race was toughest for you?

Payne Mason Mt Washington II

Another shot from the end, this one by Scott Mason Photo showing Shannon holding off Kevin Tilton.

I guess kind of feeding off of the last question, more just the mental aspect of believing the WHOLE way that I belonged where I was and could really do well even if I wasn’t real sure what I was doing.

Oh, and the other toughest part of the race was the day before when Sage took Ryan Bak and myself on a course tour and I had never seen a race like this one before, and I couldn’t believe people RAN up this thing, and I almost just called Paul Kirsch to tell him I was going to scratch (Okay, not really. But seriously.).

US Champs are in less than two weeks now at Loon Mt. Will we be seeing you back here for it?


What have you heard of the infamous Upper Walking Boss and are you ready for it?

I’ve heard it’s a doozie. Something about a 46% grade? Which means it’s 64% flat, which is over half-way flat, so it isn’t that steep….right? No but in all seriousness I will probably hit up a certain super-secret-off-limits ski slope that we have around here, it seems like it could be the closest thing we have to our very own Upper Walking Boss.

Williamsz Wins 1st NE Running Co 10 Miler

Jordan Williamsz, an All American at Villanova, just so happened to be in town. Lucky for us the Australian citizen decided to get in a workout before leaving to compete on the European Circuit this summer. Jordan won easily with a 54:09. Just a walk in the park for stud miler that has a 3:56 PR under his belt (and a converted 1500 time closer to 3:53).


Stephen Sambu (KEN) and Mamitu Daska (ETH) defend their B.A.A. 10K titles and set world leading times for 10K.

Sambu sets American All-Comers Road Race record for 8 kilometers en route, Daska breaks the event record, and 6,619 participants crossed the finish line.

By Chris Lotsbom

BOSTON - Records tumbled in bunches here at the fourth annual B.A.A. 10K, as both Stephen Sambu (KEN) and Mamitu Daska (ETH) successfully defended their event titles from 2013.  Sambu, 25, raced his way to a world leading time of 27:25 and set an American All-Comers Road Record (pending) for 8 kilometers en route, while Daska broke Kim Smith’s (NZL) event record by finishing in 31:04, also the fastest time in the world this year.

Under crystal clear skies and with temperatures comfortably in the low 60Fs at the start, an event record of 6,619 runners completed the B.A.A. 10K’s picturesque course through Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood. The B.A.A. 10K was the second event of the 2014 B.A.A. Distance Medley series, a three race series comprised of the B.A.A. 5K in April, the B.A.A. 10K, and the B.A.A. Half Marathon, presented by Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Jimmy Fund, in October. More than 2500 runners are registered for the series.

For the second consecutive year, Stephen Sambu defeated a past Boston Marathon champion on his way to winning the B.A.A. 10K. Last year, Sambu defeated 2013 Boston Marathon champion Lelisa Desisa (ETH) by nine seconds, winning the 2013 B.A.A. 10K in 28:06. This year, after an opening mile of 4:30, Sambu was joined by Kenya’s Geoffrey Mutai, the 2011 Boston Marathon victor, two-time B.A.A. 10K champion (2011 and 2012), and fastest marathoner of all time. Fellow Kenyan Daniel Salel joined the pair as they raced towards Boston University.

Splitting 5K in 13:57 and four miles in 17:45, Sambu and Mutai moved a step ahead of countryman Daniel Salel, and then were poised for a memorable duel over the course’s fast and flat second half. All alone out front, two of Kenya’s finest road racers readied for the battle ahead.

The day’s first record would be broken when the pair reached 8 kilometers, as Sambu crossed the certified mark and official timing mat in 22:02, seven one-hundredths of a second ahead of Mutai. Sambu’s time breaks Peter Githuka’s previous 8 kilometer American All-Comers time of 22:03, established in 1996 (Kingsport, Tenn.).  The American All-Comers record which Sambu established is the fastest performance made in the United States by any competitor of any nationality.

Bound and determined to break from Mutai and go on to claim the top spot, Sambu didn’t relent after setting the 8 kilometer record.

“Our plan from the beginning was to make the pace high,” he said. “I didn’t even know we set the record for 8K [during the race].” 

With less than a mile remaining, Sambu began to edge away from Mutai on Commonwealth Avenue. Maintaining his hard pace through the finish stretch in between the Public Garden and Boston Common, Sambu would stop the clock at 27:25, the fastest 10K in the world run on the roads this year and a personal best by 14 seconds.

“After 8K, I knew I still had to run 2K so I thought ‘let me increase the pace’ because I was just thinking about finishing,” he said, adding that he was beginning to feel tired. Holding on to first and claiming the top spot brought a bright smile to Sambu’s face. “It’s really good; it makes me feel good.”

Finishing second was Mutai in 27:35, who was recognized around Boston all weekend as a Boston champ and the fastest all-time marathoner. Rounding out the top three was Salel in 27:41, while Bo Waggoner, of Somerville, MA, was the top American in tenth (30:48). 

With his victory, Sambu becomes the second man ever to win back-to-back B.A.A. 10K titles, a feat Mutai accomplished in 2011 and 2012. Sambu’s coach, James Li, believes even faster times are in his future.

“I think he can run a little bit faster still. He’s still young at this, relatively,” said Li, who has coached Sambu since his days at the University of Arizona. “He’s an awesome runner, very steady.”

On the women’s side, Mamitu Daska became the first female two-time B.A.A. 10K champion in race history. Making a decisive move in the final mile, Daska went on to win in 31:04, shattering Kim Smith’s previous event record of 31:36.

In the opening mile, Daska established her intent to win the $10,000 (USD) first place prize and pursue Smith’s record, which would net her an additional $7,500 (USD) event record bonus. Pushing the pace with Kenyans Aliphine Tuliamuk-Bolton and Betsy Saina by her side, Daska went through two miles in 9:47. 

Tuliamuk-Bolton and Saina, who starred in college at Wichita State and Iowa State, respectively, led the way at 5 kilometers in 15:34, with Daska a second behind.

Biding her time and saving energy, Daska sat back while her Kenyan competitors tried to break up the group. Not letting the hard surges get to her, Daska kept the podium on her mind.

“I know that all the runners are good runners and I have confidence I am going to win. But in the meantime, I was watching them and making sure they weren’t going to push and pass me,” she said through a translator. “I am so happy my strategy worked.”

Daska made the winning move with one mile to go, creating a gap that would grow to six seconds by the finish. With a time of 31:04, Daska recorded the fastest 10K time in the world this year, setting an event record and personal best in the process.

“I didn’t expect to run this kind of fast race today,” said Daska with a bright smile across her face. “I am so happy I won.”

Daska considered the victory particularly meaningful, noting that she thinks of Boston as a second home.

“I love Boston. Coming back, Boston is always an honor for me. Even though what happened last year, everyone knows. Coming to Boston is like a hometown, always people encouraging me, so I am happy that I won again,” she said.

“I am thrilled and so happy, I have no words to explain.”

If Daska returns to Boston for the B.A.A. Half Marathon on October 12, then she will be eligible for additional B.A.A. bonuses thanks to her runner-up finish in April’s B.A.A. 5K, and her victory in 10K here today. Bonuses are awarded to top finishers in multiple B.A.A. events in this calendar year.

Saina and Tuliamuk-Bolton would finish second and third in 31:10 and 31:52, respectively, rounding out the podium. Boston Athletic Association team member Jen Rhines, 39, was the top American (33:45) in eighth, 33:45. Rhines resides in Boston, and lives on the B.A.A. 10K course.

B.A.A. club member Chris Magill, 41, of Cumberland, RI, won the men’s masters division in 32:54. Kristin Barry, 40, of Scarborough, ME won the women’s masters division with a time of 37:41.

There were nine finishers in today’s push rim wheelchair division. Tony Nogueria, 46, of Glen Ridge, NJ, won the men’s race in 24:55. Christina Kouros, 19, of Cape Elizabeth, ME, won the women’s push rim wheelchair division with a time of 39:36.

The Boston Athletic Association’s next road racing event will be the 14th B.A.A. Half Marathon, presented by Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Jimmy Fund, on Sunday, October 12, 2014. Registration opens on Wednesday, July 16 at 10:00 a.m. ET.

For complete results, go to: http://www.coolrunning.com/results/14/ma/Jun22_BAA10K_set1.shtml

For searchable results, go to:  http://www.baa.org/races/10k/results-and-commentary/2014-race-results.aspx 

About the Boston Athletic Association (B.A.A.)
Established in 1887, the Boston Athletic Association is a non-profit organization with a mission of promoting a healthy lifestyle through sports, especially running. The B.A.A.’s Boston Marathon is the world’s oldest annual marathon, and the organization manages other local events and supports comprehensive charity, youth, and year-round running programs. Since 1986, the principal sponsor of the Boston Marathon has been John Hancock Financial. The Boston Marathon is part of the World Marathon Majors, along with the international marathons in Tokyo, London, Berlin, Chicago, and New York City. More than 60,000 runners will participate in B.A.A. events in 2014. The 119th Boston Marathon will be held on Monday, April 20, 2015. For more information on the B.A.A., please visit www.baa.org.

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