Tag: Sam Alexander

King is Queen, Ashe is Back

By Jim Dandeneau

On a spectacular November day fit for cross-country, Eric Ashe and Jillian King both won their first USATF New England Cross-Country title at historic Franklin Park in Boston. After a one year hiatus due to course renovations, with last year’s championships held at Stanley Park Westfield, MA, the racing returned in the 100th year since cross-country began in 1914 (at Franklin field).

King, 23, a 2013 Boston College graduate, dominated the USATF-NE 6K championship winning in a time of 20:48.84, leading her New Balance Boston team to victory. King, who took a lengthy break from racing following the outdoor track season, broke away from a tight pack going up famed Bear Cage Hill, prior to 1.5 miles, coasting to victory by 15 seconds over Katrina Spratford, 23, of NE Distance, with Joanna Murphy, 29, and Sydney Fitzpatrick, 24, both of New Balance Boston in 3rd and 4th respectively. “The first mile (completed in 5:24) felt like a hard tempo. I decided to make a move going up Bear Cage hill…I love hills. I do alot of hill work on Heartbreak. This is only my 2nd post-collegiate cross country race,” said the Scotia, NY native who is back to running “in the 50′s” for mileage with workouts split between her alma mater’s cross country team (where she is a volunteer coach), and her New Balance Boston team. King, who is presently applying to medical and grad schools, stated she is planning on running the the USATF National Club Country Championships at River’s Edge Golf Course in Bend, OR scheduled for December 14th prior to hitting the indoor track circuit. The New Balance Boston women’s team scored a nearly perfect 17 points with the Boston Athletic Association (62 points) finishing second and Greater Boston Track Club (70 points) finishing 3rd.

Ashe, a 2011 Boston University graduate, broke away from a pack of 8 runners just after 4 miles running to a somewhat surprising victory in 30:49.99, for the 10K distance. Ashe, a Boston Athletic Association member who is only in his 8th week of running following a serious heel injury likely caused by high arches, won by a comfortable 7 second margin over teammate Sam Alexander. In fact, the B.A.A. showed its incredible depth by also taking spots 3-4 with Dan Harper and Brian Harvey just over 1 and 4 seconds behind Alexander, 23, who was running at the front of the pack prior to Ashe making his move, with Colman Hatton rounding out the BAA scoring in 10th, leading to a dominating victory of just 18 points. New Balance Boston (with 56 points) was runner up while Western Mass Distance project, aided by the 7th place finisher Kevin Johnson, finished 3rd in the team standings with 72 points.

Ashe, 25, a Hanson, MA native, who has tremendous range (PR’s include a 4:03 mile and 2:26 marathon on the challenging Cape Cod course), decided to put the foot on the accelerator following relatively slow splits of 4:55 (mile), 10:02 (2 miles) and 15:48 (5K). When Ashe surged no one could go with him “I could sense the guys around me getting a bit tired. I pressed it a bit up Bear Cage and continued to keep a gap,” stated Ashe, the UMass Boston assistant track and field coach. “I was able to cross-train in the summer riding a bike for 1 hour a day as hard as a could and 1 hour and 30 minutes on the weekends. When I got back running I started on a treadmill however I had to place it on an incline to get a good effort in. I also did alot of workouts for my core.” Ashe also plans on competing at the USATF National Club Cross Country Championships and possibly the Aramco Houston Half Marathon in January 2014.

In the men’s master’s division Sandu Rebenciuc, 44, of the Greater Springfield Harriers cruised to victory in 26:44 for the 8K distance. In 2000, he had also won the New England Open men’s title, becoming just the second male athlete to win the USATF NE Open and Master’s division (Mark Coogan 1991 and 1997). Rebenciuc, a Romania native, and Augustana College (Rock Island, IL) graduate where he was the 1991 National Division III cross-country champion, made a break in the second wilderness loop from a pack that included Amherst College men’s track and country country coach Erik Nedeau, Peter Hammer (47, of Needham, MA), Chris Magill (40, Cumberland, RI), Greg Putnam (44, Stoneham, MA), Harry Stants (40, Needham, MA), and Binney Mitchell (44 Burlington, VT).

Rebenciuc, the owner of a 23:29 8k best at Franklin Park stated, “I’m just coming back to racing again. When Erik Nedeau started to press I went with him and I pressed it a little. I’m only running about 50 miles a week…I’ve had some stomach problems lately…I might be a bit anemic…I’m not sure about club nationals yet…it depends on the team. I’d like to take a shot at the over 45 American record in the steeple (9:17) next year.” In the men’s team race, the Boston Athletic Association, with Hammer and Magill finishing 2-3, Stants 5th and O’Neil 10th, easily claimed the New England title.

In the women’s master’s race (combined with he open race) Diana Bowser, (40, Needham, MA and spouse of Peter Hammer), racing back into shape after the birth of her second child, won the New England Master’s title in 22:57 over Mimi Fallon, 48, Walpole, MA by 29 seconds.


Chris Zablocki has a nightmare one night where Matt Pelletier destroys him in a marathon. Matty was waiting for him at the finish line, already wearing a laurel wreath on his head. Matt hands Chris the runner up prize, which is an envelope. Instead of a check, the envelope contains a piece of paper saying nothing more than ‘Dig’. Chris wakes up in a cold sweat, goes out to his backyard for fresh air and sees a shovel randomly stuck in the ground. He starts digging, and twenty feet down finds this massive rock with MP etched into it.

That’s the story that sort of popped into my head when Chris let us all know just how seriously he was training for the 2013 Vermont City Marathon. In the July/August issue of Level Renner, Chris gave a firsthand account of what he was doing. Apparently, this involved tossing around a 50 pound rock that he named after one of his chief rivals.

Somewhat disappointed, I found out that my origin story was a little off. From Chris:

“It actually all started back on Jaluit Atoll (teaching for a year), where twenty foot waves crashed onto a shore strewn with nice big rocks, when some misbehaving students thought they were too cool for school and needed to be disciplined in Rock Star Club…”

What we now know as FarmStrong started off with a much more Hollywood sounding name, and it wasn’t nearly as supernatural a start as I had hoped.

No matter how it started, we’re happy to finally getting around to discussing it properly. It had turned into somewhat of an inside joke that spawned from that blurb in the magazine. We even had a couple of entertaining discussions about it at the Run 4 Kerri that until now, hadn’t seen the light of day. I was eager to produce this, but right after the R4K we had our own race to deal with. When you’re putting on your own race, non-race items have a way of falling through the cracks.

Apparently Sam Alexander is getting into the act now. He must have the CCSU cross country team tossing Matt Pelletiers around. That could explain their recent New England championship, right? Just how many people will start naming their rocks now? Will Matty P be able to sleep at night? More importantly, will he get someone to come move all those rocks in his yard?

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The above pictures are from a FarmStrong session that Zablocki held for Sam. We were hoping for video, but instead we just got these still shots. We’re guessing Chris doesn’t allow the press into his school, and Sam rigged up some sort of hidden camera. But there for all the world to see, sitting in Chris’ hands is…Matt Pelletier.

CCSU Men Win Their First Ever NEICAAA XC Title

The Central Connecticut State University men’s cross country team placed three in the top eleven and surprised a few people today. They edged Northeastern by a score of 54-79. The team is coached by a couple of dominant runners on the New England scene: Eric Blake and Sam Alexander. Blake is a force nationally on the mountain scene while Alexander was the subject of a recent Level Dossier (Sept/Oct 2013 issue).

Sept/Oct 2013 : Issue 16

 We’re on fall side of Labor Day now, so put away those white shoes and put on your cross country spikes and road flats. It’s time to embrace autumn and take the racing scene by storm.  This issue is sure to get you motivated to train hard and race fast. Enjoy your copy of the hippest, free-est underground running mag in the entire universe!

As always, the digital copy is free, but if you would like to purchase a hard copy you may do so via the hp MagCloud site.

September/October 2013

Issue 16

Table of Contents

issue xvi

Click cover to start reading

The Warm-up
• Editor’s Note
Level Communications
• Electronic Epistles
Lane 1: Performance
Lane 2: Body Shop
Lane 3: Nutrition
• Brown Bagging It by Kathy Ireland
Legion Profiles
• Sam Alexander
• Rich Paulson
• Christin Doneski
• Kristina Folcik-Welts
Club Spotlight
• L Street by Alma Ramos-McDermott
• 2013 Mtn Series Recap by Dave Dunham
• Survey & Music
Featured Event
• Level Renner 10K by EJN
Lane 4: Commentary
• Don’t Judge Us by Muddy
• Biking by Joe Navas
• Marathon Spells by Ray Charbonneau
Level Art
• McAllister & Lynch
The Cool Down
• Learn the Legion


Run 4 Kerri: Men’s Race

It’s been a while, but here’s some more coverage of the 2013 Run 4 Kerri. Just after the race, we put up some coverage that was focused on the ladies in the race, now we turn our attention to the men.

Chris Zablocki made a strong run for Mark Carroll’s course record (19:08 from 2007), but it just wasn’t in the cards that day. The final results have Chris listed at an impressive 19:17.2, but who knows what his final time would have been had a few breaks gone his way (more on that later).

Run 4 Kerri Matty PChris had the race in hand basically from the moment he put a bit of a gap on Will Sanders just past the halfway point. The rest of the field was racing for second. Last year, it was Sam Alexander out-kicking Nate Jenkins for the win. This year Sam had to hold on to make sure Matt Pelletier didn’t come back on him. The pair finished 2-3 this year.

One of the characteristics that makes this race so unique and fun to watch are the bonuses out there for the mile markers. The first male and female runners to reach each one receives a cash bonus ($50 for the first one, $25 for miles 2 and 3). Will Sanders and Anthony Gonsalves made no attempt to play it cool, as both went tearing out with a cash bonus on their minds. Sanders hit the first mile in a blistering 4:18 (or what Matt Pelletier would later refer to as a PR, had he gone with Will).

After such a torrid pace on the opening mile in such a deep talented field, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see a runner drop like a 50 lb rock as the rest of the elites surged by. Will did not fade in such a manner. In fact, one could even argue that he didn’t fade at all. Sure, it wasn’t his best effort, but he still ran a 19:46 and hung on for 4th place. That was pretty impressive to watch. Zablocki didn’t pass Will like he was standing still; Sanders put up a fight.

Zablocki kept charging after that move, and it was once he was out on his own where things got wacky. At one point a left turn should’ve been made, but Chris followed the lead vehicle which went straight. I, EJN, was on the lead vehicle getting some Level video. The rest of the runners knew the course and made the turn. To their credit, the race officials recognized immediately that they made a mistake. At that point, it seemed like Chris would just have to be DQ’d, and race director Scott Bessette determined that he’d pay out first place prize money to Chris anyway (along with making the regular pay outs to the official winners).

Now the big questions were does Chris know and, if not, how should he be made aware of it? We talked about it briefly and came to the conclusion that it would be best to tell him sooner rather than later. As you’ll see in the video, we slowed down and waited for Chris. As he pulled up alongside the car, Scott tells him what happened and says that he’ll make it right. I have to take credit for the poor choice of words here though. “We’ll make it right” sounds all well and good, but it can easily sound like ‘make a right’ to someone in the heat of battle. Yeah, now I know. Sure enough, at the next turn we go left and Chris goes right. Son of a b…

So yeah, there’s a few cuss words in the video as we realized what went wrong there. Sometimes, shit just happens. To his credit, Chris didn’t lose focus at all and finished up strong. He didn’t waver and ran like an animal.

In the end, Scott didn’t need to pay out two first place prizes. The rest of the top finishers, they handled the situation with a great amount of class and sportsmanship. They knew that the purpose of the race was for a greater cause than the end results would show, and they recognized that Chris owned it that day. It just wouldn’t feel right to claim victory on a technicality. This was the 12th running of the race, and mistakes are bound to happen. Everybody involved handled it quite well and it seemed to make it a better story.

Although Chris came in under the course record (under 19 minutes, in fact), his time was adjusted to account for the first missed turn.

Lead shot on the website is once again a product of George Ross Photography, so check out his work and give him some support.


Level Renner Road Race Gomez Mason logo

Big Names, Big Times, Big Coverage

As you probably know, we were away covering the Run 4 Kerri yesterday. It was the 12th edition of the race, but only our 2nd year of involvement.

For the race itself, Chris Zablocki and Julie Culley were the winners. Yes, that Julie Culley. Chris covered 4ish miles in 19:17 (more on that with the rest of our coverage coming soon). Julie placed 19th overall and ran the 4 mile course in 22:22.9. Here’s a sample of our instant coverage (Sam Alexander finishing ahead of Matt Pelletier):

It feels like we need to apologize to Matty P for posting that. It must play out like a nightmare for him, just one continuous loop of Sam beating him.

And we just couldn’t go without mentioning DJ Principe. The phenom ran another good one (21:31.4 for 12th place), and this write up from Steve Mazzone captures it quite nicely. If he keeps this up, then this pic we took at the 2012 R4K might have to go into the Level Hall of Fame one day.

George Ross was the official race photographer, and it goes without saying that he did some tremendous work. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of George’s photos goes back to the race. If you’re going to buy pics from the race, please consider supporting George (which indirectly supports the race as well).

While we were away doing that, Pat Fullerton went out and ran himself a sick time. Fullatweets won the High Street Mile with a new course record of 3:58.8.

Fullatweets High Street mile tweets
Blank me, that’s bleepin’ fast. Pat is on the record committing to a race report on this tremendous achievement, so hopefully we’ll get it soon. In the mean time, we saw this video on Youtube from Joe Mulvar that captures Pat’s record breaking moment:

Keep it here, more on all of this coming your way this week.


Level Renner Road Race Gomez Mason logo

Cragg, Hastings Win in Holyoke

Some big names came out for the 38th running of the Holyoke St. Patrick’s Road Race, and they did not disappoint. Local speedster Zach Hine (of South Hadley, but currently located out in Boulder, CO) was back to defend his title. Zach had his work cut out for him right from the gun, as Philemon Terer was ready to avenge last year’s loss. Added to the mix this year was Alistair Cragg, a two time Olympian and Irish national record holder.

Hine led the way for the first couple of tactical miles. The front of the race thinned out pretty quickly and just after the first mile it was already down to a pack of four. Zach would hold that position through three miles, but Cragg and Terer were starting to pull away by the fourth mile.

With just about a mile to go, Cragg made a decisive move on a downhill and gained some separation on Terer. Terer was not able to cover it, and Cragg just seemed to glide in the rest of the way. Alistair ran 29:20 for the 10k, followed by Terer (29:25) and Hine (29:28). Hine actually ran nine seconds faster than he did en route to winning in 2012, but it was only good enough for a third place finish this time around.

In the women’s race, Olympian Amy Hastings was more of a clear favorite. The race was also missing that element of a reigning champ returning to defend the crown as last year’s champion Brielle Chabot was recovering from an injury and not competing. Amy ran a 33:32 and won by well over a minute (Colleen Hogan was 77 seconds back with a 34:49).

The masters race was won by Joseph Ekuom (32:55), followed by Eric Nedeau and Kent Lemme. For the ladies it was Dawn Roberts in 41:23, followed by Mary Guertin and Kim Handzel.

Below is a video including race footage taken from the back of one of the lead trucks, and an interview with Bob Rosen. Bob is quite involved in the running scene out in Amherst, and he and his family have become very close with Philemon Terer. Also included are the pre-race thoughts of Sam Alexander:

For more on the race, including results and summaries, visit the race website.

Champagne Wins in Ireland!

Before we get to coverage of the Amherst 10 Miler (coming soon), there’s some stuff to clear off the queue here as vacation week comes to an end. EJN was waiting on some more thorough final results, then was away having fun, so this nearly never saw the light of day.

Mary Kate Champagne (New Balance Boston) won the 2013 Ras na hEireann cross country race in Ireland on Sunday. Results can be found here for the women’s race, but it only has places on it at the moment and not the times. In another impressive performance, Joanie Bohlke placed third overall.

In the men’s race, BAA teammates Eric Ashe and Sam Alexander finished 3-4. Once again, the results don’t give us any indication of time just yet.

Of the timing issue, Mary Kate said: “There wasn’t a clock at the race, but i used a watch (silly, I know) and ran about 13:20″. For the 4k, Mary Kate “felt good overall” and said that “it was nice to run a shorter cross country race”.

Pictures of the race can be found here and here.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that I left Joanie off of our initial posting for the Armagh Road Race that took place last Thursday (2/14), but she finished 17th (10:16 for the 3k road race).

Armagh Road Race

The Armagh Road Race was held in Ireland on Thursday February 14th. Team USA sent a squad there to compete, and it featured a few New England runners.

The pre-race fueling ritual that propelled Eric Ashe to a spot on Team USA.

The pre-race fueling ritual that propelled Eric Ashe to a spot on Team USA.

In the women’s race, Mary Kate Champagne (New Balance Boston) was once again the top American (results here). Mary Cullen of Ireland won the 3k race in 9:07.88. Mary Kate wasn’t too far back in 9:30.63, which placed her fifth. It was a very close finish between Mary Kate and Rachel Bamford (England), but Rachel just edged her out. “She apparently caught me at the line, unbeknownst to me,” said Mary Kate later.

Ethan Shaw (good old US of A) won a tightly contested men’s race in 14:11.71 (full results here). The US men’s team had a healthy dose of BAA on it, with both Eric Ashe and Sam Alexander representing the unicorn abroad. Said Ashe, “I was 10th and Sam was not far back. The race was tactical with a big pack with 400m to go.” Eric ran a 14:21 for 5k and Sam was 17th with 14:32. That 14:32 doesn’t sound too shabby, but Sam’s hungry for more and said he “will try to improve on that on Sunday hopefully”.

Here’s some video of the races, courtesy of East Down AC:

Join us in wishing Mary Kate, Sam, Eric and the rest of Team USA good luck for Sunday’s Ras na hEireann 6k XC. Feel free to leave some inspiring thoughts in the comments below.

Run 4 Kerri: The Level Interview Sessions

We had a lot on this one, so we needed to pace ourselves. The Run 4 Kerri four mile race was last Sunday, and as we wind down the week we proudly present our interview sessions with some of the top finishers of the 2012 edition of this must-run event.

First up is Laura Brustolon:

Followed by Nate Jenkins & Melissa Donais:

Winner Sam Alexander and Jacob Edwards:

Trish Hillery and Renae Cicchinelli


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