(2022 Yankee Homecoming Road Races)
(Newburyport) One runner knew the course.
The other runner didn’t.
Those facts turned out to be significant as Ruben Sanca navigated the familiar (to him) Yankee Homecoming 10-mile course to his third straight victory.
Meanwhile, Ezra Mutai, who finished second, had heard about the course and had seen a video of the route.
The inexperience with the course influenced this excellent runner as he covered the same 10-mile course on Tuesday night.
Ezra, from Springfield and a former student/runner at American International College, took second but it was a distant second.
Ruben finished at 51:02 while Ezra finished at 52:27.
I like to start my race coverage at the one-mile point, which is down near Federal Street.
A look at this picture tells you that Ezra was in the lead at one mile and looking strong.
“The early going was good,” Ezra told me post-race.
Ruben was close behind, however, and biding his time. He told the PA announcer afterwards that he just tried methodically to gain a little bit of ground as the race progressed.
Then came the hills.
“Around eight miles it was too hilly,” recalled Ezra. “That was the toughest place. I knew about the hills, but I had never run them.”
Ruben, from Salisbury (MA), often runs the streets of Newburyport and knew what to expect. On those hills was where Ruben took the lead and built on it the rest of the way.
“This was my first 10-mile race,” explained Ezra. “I usually run shorter distances. I’m working toward doing a half marathon.”
Ezra told me that he plans to give the Yankee Homecoming 10-miler another try next year. “Next time I’ll know better what to expect,” he said with a smile.
Women’s ten-mile winner, Emilee Risteen, also had limited knowledge of the course.
“All I knew was that there were hills through the middle,” she said afterwards.
Emilee (Derry NH) started fast and left all her competition in the dust early. There were no women to chase and there were no challengers to worry about.
Emilee (1:03.10) crossed with a time of 1:03.10., four minutes ahead of Beth Dollas (Amesbury) who finished second.
“I was going for a time,” Emilee said, “but didn’t get it. We’ll just pick it up and keep trying.”
“I learned about Mile Three that I couldn’t go for what I wanted,” she added. “I then had to readjust and play it smart so that I could finish strong.”
Emilee was 11th overall of 650 runners in the 10-mile event.
Emilee graduated from Moody Bible Institute (Chicago IL) and has been coaching at Concord Christian Academy in New Hampshire.
My strategy of seeing both races one mile into each of them always prevents me from seeing the end of the 5K race.
My positioning, however, allows me to see the leaders of both races about a mile into each race. Almost without fail, the leaders then win the races or come close.
The Walsh brothers (Joseph & Timothy) from Auburn (MA) dominated the 5K race. They were one-two at the one-mile mark.
Justin Freeman did separate them by the end of the race. Justin won the 10-mile race a few years ago when the end of the race was near the stadium entrance.
Yvonne Bungei and Betsy Suda were close at one mile, but it was Yvonne (18:48) edging Betsy (18:57) for the win in the women’s 5K.
Betsy has been the 5K women’s winner several times. She may have defeated Yvonne in 2019.
The idea of starting the race at 6PM always assumes that things will be cooling down as the race takes place. It never seems to work. As Mark Twain said, “Everyone complains about the weather, but no one does anything about it!”
Additional pictures from the two races: