Even with the best of preparations, there’s something about race day that seems to fill you with doubt. Being new to race directing, we got our first taste of that: Will the weather be favorable? Will people show up? Will my family find Kyle waiting on the side of the road?
All three were major concerns, and all three worked out in our favor. The last even gave us some insight into what some of the more established races handle: coordinating rides for the elites. When we heard that Kyle Feldman wanted to compete but needed a ride, we knew we had to make that happen. The thought of some form of cosmic bad luck screwing up the pick up definitely added to the anxiety.
The weather was beautiful, the people showed up, and the Powers Family found Kyle along the way. The race would be run after all.
Yep, the race was finally going to happen. If it didn’t sink in earlier, it certainly did when the runners were gathered at the starting line, awaiting our command to go. Included in that group were a couple of runners who could reasonably expect to win— uncontested—on a day like this. It’s safe to say that if you told them, “It’s a first year event with under 200 runners,” both Ruben Sança and Glarius Rop would think, “Yeah, I got this.” But this field had some depth and the two were going to have to do some work to earn it.
Ruben couldn’t have looked more relaxed when we approached him just before the start. When asked what he thought he had in him for the day, Sanca (the Cape Verdean Olympian) responded with “hopefully under 31.” Hopefully under 31. How far under 31 was he hoping for? Quite far would be my guess.
Just before ‘go time,’ Brockton Mayor Linda Balzotti was handed the mic and kicked things off by welcoming everyone to the City of Champions. Mayor Balzotti went on to wish all runners well in the race, “One of which we hope will become an annual tradition.” We hope so too.
With an olde school “GO!” the field was off. Two laps around the park, including three trips up the infamous Tower Hill. The runners surged up the hill only a matter of seconds into the race on their way to complete the first of two loops.
Over the course of this smaller first loop (approx. 2.5 mi), Rop was in control. Said Sanca of the early portion of the race: “He made a couple of surges on me and I kind of never really went with him. I just slowly, you know, came back to him.” Ruben was still a couple of steps back as they approached the hairpin turn just after two miles that signaled the start of the Tower Hill ascent. On the other side of that, the real racing would begin. “I think It was right before three miles, on the flats, I made a small little surge,” said Sanca. Rop didn’t respond to the surge, but he did make a strong move on the downhill to catch back up to Ruben. Ruben upped the pace on the next uphill because he figured the downhill surge must’ve taken the juice out of Rop’s legs. Sança opened it up on the flats and gradually widened the gap over Glarius. Sanca didn’t know it, because he never looked back.
The next time the leaders came by the small group gathered by the hairpin turn, the race was pretty much over. Sanca pushed on by, going past and looping a small parking lot before setting his sights on Tower Hill for one last push. Just beyond: the finish line.
The only thing in doubt now was if Sança would break thirty minutes. So much for hoping to break thirty-one. With a couple of guys like Ruben and Glarius, a fast race was expected. Not sure how many people thought one of them would be running alone toward the line, with no competition on the horizon and a clock reading 29 and change looming close.
Well it happened. Ruben crossed the line victorious in 29:54. Glarius ran a smoking time of his own, finishing in 30:41. As stated in the beginning, this was a deep field. Tadesse Girma Biratu took the last open cash spot with his 32:03 third place finish.
Lindsay Willard leads the way, courtesy of Scott Mason Photo.
Anthony Gonsalves (4th, 33:01) led the next wave, which included Jason Eddy (5th, 33:06) and Orlando Cordero (6th, 33:57). Eddy continues his comeback with another strong one while Cordero was under the weather. Jim Pawlicki finished 7th in 35:39, but that was only about 24 hours after placing 24th at the Chamberas 6k XC race (the 2013 XC Grand Prix opener). Not a bad weekend for Jim.
The first master came through next, and that was Joe Shairs (35:39), one of Pawlicki’s CMS teammates. The first vendor was right behind the first master. Jordan Kinley stepped out from behind the Karhu table to run a 36:06 and sneak into the top ten. Closing out the top ten was our women’s champion: Lindsay Willard. Including Lindsay, five of the next seven finishers were women, which showed the depth of the women’s field.
Speaking of Lindsay, she battled with Kyle Feldman the whole way but was able to pull away to win in 36:21. Kyle was right behind her in 36:39. Early on, it looked like Willard would run away with it but Kyle dug deep and made it a race. Showing no signs of the months long struggles with injury that wiped out her spring and much of her summer, Kyle closed the gap on Lindsay at about 4 miles and threatened to take over.
The two battled for the next half-mile or so until Lindsay was able to regain an edge. Lindsay had overcome her own obstacles to get to this point. Having had knee surgery earlier this summer, Willard recovered fairly quickly and got back to what she does best: racing all the time. Displaying the fortitude that she’s forged over race after race, she slowly put the clamps down and opened up a gap that would allow her to cross the line victorious.
Dianna Chivakos (14th, 37:33), Nicole Casey (15th, 37:46) and Kate Hails (16th, 38:01) wrapped up that first wave of women. Janet Holmes was the top masters runner (33rd overall, 42:42).
As for Kyle, she got a ride home. This time it was from Lindsay. That was, of course, after they went out for another run (post awards ceremony). It’s tough to just call it a cooldown when it ended up being a 20-mile day for Lindsay. Show up, win the race, add on a bunch of mileage, and then help with the elite athlete transportation. That’s totally on the level.
Congratulations to all the runners who made the first annual Level Renner 10K a success. Too may age group winners to mention but the top three in each division did all walk away with a coveted pint glass and a good story to tell. So did the 30+ people who took home raffle prizes.
This article originally appeared in the Sept/Oct 2013 issue of Level Renner, and was accompanied by plenty of great photography from both Scott Mason Photo and Krissy Kozlosky. It’s free, so download your copy today. You can also check out our web coverage here, including video highlights and interviews.