Tag: Road Racing

Manchester City Marathon

By Brandon Newbould

Sunday, November 3rd, was a difficult day to race a marathon this year.  The realists among us would point out the physical conditions of race day and the challenges presented by them, but to me it seems that there is in our universe an unseen dimension that only evidences itself through an intangible climate of adversity.  I am very likely the only person who even secretly suspects such a hare-brained and paranoid concept, but I will espouse it agnostically until a scientific authority demonstrates its validity.  Conditions on race day were certainly far enough from optimal to account for the prevalence of slow times and blow-ups, but sometimes it just seems like a tough day.  After reading so many accounts of drop-outs and disasters in NYC the same day as Manchester, I console myself in knowing that I suffered with many others.

Suffering is okay in a marathon, or if I can be more precise, suffering is appropriate and expected.  Sometimes the race seems effortless.  My first one was like that, really successful and pretty painless.  Amby Burfoot has written the same thing about his historic win at Boston.  But those of us who were so fortunate probably all agree that we knew it would never quite be that easy again.

But after that opening, I wanted to take this another direction, because I didn’t really have a bad race.  I race to exemplify and practice certain values, like facing adversity courageously, and this race provided a nice big stage for that.  I knew when Manchester was selected for the Grand Prix series that this would be a difficult race.  The course is challenging, or maybe very challenging, and the race is held in early November, so the 15 mph winds and mid-30s temperature could only be expected.  And that’s what I faced on race morning: a drive through spitting snow to a cold, windy, daunting marathon course.

Newbould Manchester Kozlosky

Brandon finishes up, courtesy of Krissy Kozlosky.

I looked forward hopefully to some competition on race day.  My goal was to win, whatever the time, and I know that competition brings the best out in me.  I was confident too, so really the worst-case scenario was showing up to find nobody left in New England who hadn’t already raced their fall marathon or was busy with cross-country.  That said, I admit that I was intimidated a little bit when I came across a camp of Ethiopian runners resting in the hotel before the start.  There must have been fifteen of them, and they looked every bit as fast as their dominant group performance proved later that morning.  Knowing they were there, I visualized various scenarios and prepared to take them and anyone else on when the gun sounded.

The first mile of the race is downhill, and I anticipated a quick opening mile.  I was fresh off of a five mile race in central Mass in which Glarius Rop and friends went out in under 4:30, and the poignant memory of that start lingered as I toed the line in Manchester.  The half marathoners began with us, differentiated by bib color.  At the gun, at least twenty people were out in front of me before I got through my first strides.  I would have face-palmed if I wasn’t afraid of tripping on all the guys in front of me, because I completely failed to stay abreast long enough to see who was running the full marathon.  It didn’t matter, because I would not have hung with them anyway.  Through the first mile in 5:18, I could see that the leaders were already ten seconds up on me.  On that course, on that day, I was not going to go out that fast.

The best laid race plans of mice and men gang aft aglay.  I was supposed to go out with the leaders, even if it was fast, and instead I had twenty-five miles to go and I was completely alone.  I focused on what I was doing, and managed my efforts over the immediately aggressive hills until the half-marathoners peeled away at mile 10.  At that point the lead pack formed a tight unit far enough in the distance that I could not count them individually.  So far I had pulled in only one casualty from their aggressive early pace.  Some others from the group went with the half marathoners, leaving one down and, I was informed, four to go in the lead group.

I was running the part of the course that I had actually managed to preview a few weeks earlier, and I pictured myself pulling the lead group in before we came back to the highway at mile 17.  Instead, on a stretch of gravelly rail trail, my Saucony Type A5 flats picked up a few rocks in the outsole “breathing holes.”  I don’t know what the holes are for.  They’re nice shoes and all but what is it with holes in the outsole?  Some of the rocks just scraped a little on the road, but one of them was big enough that I could feel the pressure on each footstrike, right under my big toe knuckle.  Instead of focusing on running down the leaders I faced a distracting choice: did I stop to take the rock out or soldier on?  I tried to remember what the Princess and the Pea could teach me about this predicament.  Nope, I couldn’t remember how that story goes.  I kicked at the road, a futile effort, and decided I needed to stop.  15M was too far to risk leaving the rock in place.  I pulled a glove off, aimed for a mailbox to lean on, and stopped to take the rock out.  I clawed at it like a fighting cheerleader but the thing only turned circles in the outsole.  Finally I pulled it out and hit the road.  I couldn’t get my glove back on – I looked down to see the fabric snagging on my bloody torn fingernail, and suddenly remembered a scene from The Silence of the Lambs: “It rubs the lotion on its skin, or else it gets the hose again!”  Another encouraging picture in my mind with more than half the race to go.  I was thankfully rescued from this downward trend by observing another casualty from the lead pack: one of the runners walked down the road, rubbing his calf and grimacing.  Three to go.

I told myself to stay positive and pushed through some of the biggest hills on the course, around mile 16.  They would all come back.  Up ahead I spotted another fast runner, darting through the half-marathon crowd as we rolled down Hanover St, and I pushed to catch him.  As I reached him he spotted me over the shoulder, and I surged hard.  Thankfully I got away, but as I reached mile 19 and turned through the thick crowd my effort caught up to me.

From then on, the race became the marathon we all dread.  I refused to let up, but I was pushing into the wind and over the hills with weakened legs.  Looking back over my splits, I didn’t actually slow down, but in terms of effort I was maxed-out.  The next runner came into sight, but I was closing too slowly.  Calls of 70 seconds came slowly down, but I could see the lead and it was hard to imagine it closing completely unless he cramped or took a wrong turn.  Speaking of which, the course turned like a Go-Cart track all the way to the finish.  Every time I tried to build my momentum I would hit a turn and feel a muscle grab, or I would have to let up slightly while I tried to figure out where the course went.  Finally we reached Elm St. and the finish straight, and the runner was away from me.  I had cut the lead down to 30 seconds, but it was never actually close.  I drove hard to the finish line anyway, knowing I had a long break coming and that I had given all I had.  The only thing left to do was pour the rest out.

The result was bittersweet.  I won the New England title and could justify some the time and energy that I took away from my family to prepare for this with a decent prize check.  But in the race situation I felt that I had competed and lost, whatever titles bestowed on me.  I felt pride as a local finisher, which only magnified the sense of loss, but also gave me plenty to smile about in the finish area.  After the race I continue to practice the mindset I strove for as I ran through Manchester – focus on how I compete.  I raced those guys and offered them my best.  It wasn’t good enough to get me across the line first, but that doesn’t mean it was a wasted effort.  It was a tough day, and I’m glad that I could endure it with my teammates alongside and my family watching.

Brandon finished third overall in 2:28:26 and was the first USATF-NE competitor. The overall Grand Prix series (won by Sean Duncan with 39 points) concluded with this race. Brandon finished up the year strong by scoring 19 points over the last two races (9 at the 30k in Nahant and 10 in Manchester), which was good enough to put him in 5th place overall.

Ritchie, Fullerton Earn Some Points

CVS 5k Scott Mason

Fullerton goes after it, courtesy of Scott Mason Photo.

The US National 5k Championships were held in Providence back on September 22, once again as part of the CVS Downtown 5k race. This post race interview with Pat Fullerton and Tim Ritchie almost slipped through the cracks during our hectic month of race coverage that was September. It’d be a shame to overlook Fullerton’s first big Level interview.

In the race itself, Tim placed 6th overall (14:02.7) and Pat was 12th (14:20.7). For national championship scoring purposes, Tim was 4th and Pat was 8th, so they both earned top ten status and Tim got himself another top five finish. Pretty impressive.

As Tim says in the interview, it’s a tactical race and there’s really only one big move and that comes at the end. Things really shake out in that last mile and the lead pack will be together for the most part up until then. With that in mind, it was quite surprising to see Pat out in front when the gun went off. It led to a moment of “Is that? Wait. Really? Is Pat leading the race?” It didn’t last long, as he settled back in and ended up running a PR by thirty seconds. Not a bad showing for someone that still doesn’t have a lot of 5k experience.

With that PR, Pat scored himself some series points. It’s safe to say that Pat won’t be sitting in a tie for 38th place for long if he keeps racing like this. With a little more experience on this stage he could become a constant up in the front. is anything In the standings, Tim is currently sitting in sixth place. The seven points he picked up for his efforts helped him leapfrog a few other runners to get him into the top ten.

Here’s the interview:

New England is also has some representation up front in the women’s standings. Katie DiCamillo is currently 10th, while Shalane Flanagan and Molly Huddle are both tied with other runners for 11th. In the 5k championships more specifically, Katie Matthews placed 9th (16:09.2).

The next championship distance is the marathon, which will be the Twin Cities Marathon on October 6th.

Nahant 30k Recap & Raw Footage

The Nahant 30k is in the books and we have the race footage to prove it. It’s raw footage, but it gets the job done. We interviewed the winners yesterday and already posted that, but you can find said interviews with Dan Vassallo and Cheryl Cleary here.

For the men, Dan Vassallo led CMS to victory in the open division. Chris Magill and the BAA took the masters division, but Magill wasn’t the fastest masters runner on the day. That honor belonged to Jason Porter of…you guessed it…CMS. The Whirlaway seniors won their division by topping Greater Lowell by a 23 minute margin.

Over on the ladies’ side, Kasie Enman and the BAA topped the SISU squad in the open division while Whirlaway captured the masters and senior divisions. The top masters runner on the day was Christin Doneski, a member of that Whirlaway masters machine.

Sorry kids, no time to go into detail like who ran what time, but you can find the full results here. And while you’re looking for stuff on the race, be sure to check out Krissy Kozlosky’s pics from yesterday. The featured image attached to this post on our main page today is hers, and you’ll be able to see that and much more once you click that link.

As promised, here’s the raw footage from the race:

Vassallo & Cleary Help Burn Off The Fog In Nahant

The 30k distance returned to the USATF-NE Grand Prix circuit with the Nahant 30k today. The course record holder coming in was Dan Vassallo of CMS who ran a 1:42:23 way back in 2011. The new course record is one Dan Vassallo, who just today ran a 1:40:39 and out-dueled Brandon Newbould to take the New England championship.

There’s also a new course record for the women. Cheryl Cleary took down the old mark set by Emily Kroshus (2:03:10 also in 2011). Cheryl ran a 2:01:04 and placed 58th overall. Cheryl showed a lot of emotion in the interview and it was obvious that she was truly overjoyed by her accomplishment.

It was fun to be a part of that raw, emotional experience and see someone truly enjoying something that they had worked so hard to achieve. People show it in different ways; Sean Duncan starts a dance party in a parking lot, Cheryl got a little choked up. Either way, it’s all good and shows just why we love Level Legion.

CVS 5k: Spence Gracey

We’ve been fortunate enough to publish some interviews and features on Neely Spence Gracey in the past, but had never actually met her face to face before. Since the CVS Downtown 5k is right in our neck of the woods we had an opportunity to finally get a proper interview and didn’t pass up the chance.

Neely placed 5th in the race, which doubled once again as the US 5k championships. Although she ran a little slower than last year, it is much earlier in the season for her and she is quite pleased with her progression. Here’s an interview we did with her that covers just about everything from this race to her future racing plans to…singing and dancing. We cover it all.

I know many of you are clamoring for the Tim Ritchie/Pat Fullerton interview. It’s coming. Soon. We saved the best for last.

Once again, feature image on main page is credited to Scott Mason Photo.

Chelanga 5th in Providence

Sam Chelanga is back on the Level, this time for a strong showing in his first big test since coming back from his stress fracture. Sam ran a 13:59 to place fifth overall and seemed to be right in contention until about a half mile to go. It was at that point where one runner decided to make a crazy move and collided with a couple of others.

When Sam started to recount his story, he mentioned it was a guy that shot out to the front right away. I didn’t catch it at the time when he said ‘Ethiopian’, and my mind immediately went to Pat Fullerton. From my vantage point on the hill all I could see was the start and finish and the last I saw of the runners heading out was Pat out in front by a few strides. Total case of mistaken identity. Pat’s early lead was nothing compared to the lead the guy in question here had through the first half of the race.

To see more of the race, including the late race shenanigans, you can go here. At about the eleven minute mark (as noted in the LRC thread), you can see the ridiculous move #19 made.

That “move” did look pretty bad and it was interesting to here Sam’s take on it. At the time I hadn’t seen it so I didn’t realize it was that bad. There’s contact in track, sure, but something to that extent would probably get you DQ’d. It takes a special lack of judgement to barrel into people like that out on the roads. Between the early race lead and the late race contact, it makes you wonder just what that guy’s strategy was.

Feature photo on main page is courtesy of Scott Mason Photo.

Bumbalough Gets The W


Courtesy of Scott Mason Photo.

After just so narrowly losing out to Ben True in the final steps of the race last year, Andrew Bumbalough broke through with a tremendous surge coming over the hill to take the 2013 US 5k Championship. Andrew learned from his mistakes in 2012 and knew exactly when to make that final move in the CVS Downtown 5k.

Here’s an interview with Andrew just after the awards ceremony. At the time, I was unaware of the contact late in the race and it didn’t come up in the interview. After seeing the footage, I wish I knew of it because that would’ve made for an interesting discussion.

To see the full race video, you can go here. At about the eleven minute mark (as noted in the LRC thread), you can see the ridiculous move #19 made.

Huddle Repeats


Courtesy of Scott Mason Photo.

Molly Huddle out-kicked Emily Infeld to secure the repeat at the US 5k Championships. For Huddle, a Providence resident, this was her third win in four years. Infeld represented Molly’s toughest challenge yet over this current run of success in Providence. This was Emily’s first ever road race but you couldn’t tell from the fight she put up for the defending champion all the way to the finish.

The winning time for Molly: 15:29.6.

Here’s an interview we did with Molly after the race, but before she headed over to the NE Distance karaoke fundraiser (of punk rock heavy metal style).

Run 4 Kerri: Culley Takes It

The 12th Annual Run 4 Kerri was held in lovely Wakefield, RI back on Sunday August 4th. One big name was left off the pre-race elites list: Olympian Julie Culley. It almost seemed like a rumor hearing that she was there. Well, she was there and she won it.

Julie just recently took some time off and is just getting back into the swing of things as part of a build up for her second debut attempt at the NYC Marathon.

The race went out pretty hard, a lot faster than Julie anticipated. Being the first harder effort in a while, Julie was expecting to open in the 5:40 range, but the first mile was actually in the 5:20′s. Diana Davis of New Balance Boston was right there pushing the pace, going for all the glory that comes with taking an Olympic scalp. Or…just going for the first mile time bonus.

Julie had forgotten about the cash bonuses offered at the mile markers, but Diana was locked in on those (at least the first one). After  coming away with the cash for the first mile bonus, Diana basically just turned to Julie and said “have a good race’, and then it was all Julie after that. Julie was able to cruise home for the win in 22:22.9 and finished 19th overall.

That’s not to say that Diana just faded into the pack though. Diana slipped to 35th place overall (in a deep field), but was still the third female. Lindsay Willard (BAA) overtook her for second place, but still didn’t get her by much. Lindsay ran a 23:13 compared to Diana’s 23:50 (for four miles).

It’s a amazing that Diana and Lindsay were even racing there. One week earlier, Lindsay was in Maine where she won the Great Cranberry Island Ultra (50k). Not only was she the top female but she also placed third overall with her 3:40:36. Only the day before this Run 4 Kerri race, Diana was up in Maine racing the Beach to Beacon 10k. She was no slouch either, running a 37:58.

Trish Hillery of Greenville, RI was the top masters runner in 24:48. It wasn’t fast enough to beat her son Liam though. He was busy mixing it up with the elite men up in the front.

Next up: the coverage of the men’s race. Lead shot on the website is once again a product of George Ross Photography, so check out his work and give him some support.

North Andover July 4th Road Races

It was a hot one in North Andover! Mark LaRosa is new to the neighborhood and decided to run the race at the last minute. This only gave him a couple of minutes to warm up. Luckily for him, warm ups and cool downs seem to be only ceremonial on days like that.

There were two races, a 5k and a 10k. The 5k went off first at 8:30, where it was already unpleasantly hot. The course took the runners up Johnson Street (Johnson Hill), as if to let them know that they needed to get ready for a tough one. Taylor Roberts was up in the front of the 5k pack, along with a couple of other runners. Taylor would end up taking the lead later on and holding it for good. Winning times for the day were 16:50 for Taylor and then 21:45 for top woman Katrina Martyn.

Katrina runs for UMass Amherst (going into her senior season) and is the daughter of Whirlaway stud Doug Martyn. It wasn’t the first big hill that she found to be the toughest, but a stretch near the end: “The Salem Street hill was brutal at the end because it was entirely in the sun and I was already pretty tired, but my sister and I run up there a lot so I was used to it.” The course itself is easier on the way back than it is going out, so that just goes to show how brutal the sun was. Katryna has been busy racing since school got out for the summer. She ran the Run to Remember (1:38) back in May, and although she’ll miss some races in August due to some European travel, she plans on getting in some more longer races or a few 5k’s before heading back to school.

In the 10k, it was the aforementioned LaRosa who would go on to win in his first race in his new home. It was a familiar scene up front through: BAA vs WMDP. Mark took the honors for his Unicorns, while lone wolf Scott Vander Molen was runner up about 30 seconds back. The top lady of the day was Clara Kelly of Boxford.

For a few more pics and a video clip, check out our Instagram, Twitter and Vine accounts.

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