Tag Archives: Justin Freeman

Ruben Sanca and Karen Roa capture Yankee Homecoming 10-miler titles

Ruben Sanca

Karen Roa

Jeffrey Seelaus (2539) in the lead for good in the 5K

Yvonne Bungei wins the 5K

Ruben Sanca in the crowd with Eric Ashe nearby

(Newburyport MA) “Three miles in I was in a world of hurt”

“At five miles, in this weather, you start doubting yourself and your pace gets slower and slower.  You try to hang on as best you can.”

Sounds unpleasant.  And those were the words of the two top finishers (Ruben Sanca & Eric Ashe) in last night’s Yankee Homecoming 10-miler!

Margaret Njuguna (1581) leads but Karen Roa (1828) is nearby at the Cushing Museum

Imagine what the rest of the folks, running in heat in the mid-to-upper 80’s through the streets of Newburyport, must have felt like.

The women’s winner, Karen Roa, said that a key to handling the conditions was keeping hydrated.  “It was a mental thing,” she said afterwards. “I wanted to go out conservative because of the weather.”

Mission accomplished for Karen.  Cleveland Marathon winner Margaret Njuguna was also in the field and she started fast.  Karen kept Margaret in her sights and eventually the conditions changed the positioning at the top.

“The young lady at the top kept looking back,” explained Karen, “so I thought that she was weakening.  I kept after her and passed her at the seven-mile mark and didn’t look back.”

Enjoying the ride

Karen Roa won by nearly a minute (59:12).

Ruben Sanca captured the 10-mile event for the second straight year.

“I tried to take it out hard from the beginning,” said the UMass Lowell graduate.  “My plan was to get away from everyone else.  Unfortunately, because of how hot and humid it was I couldn’t maintain the fast pace.”

Enter Simmons University cross-country coach Eric Ashe.

“I tried to be a little conservative with the start and it almost worked,” he said.  “I caught Ruben at about seven miles.  I tried to make a final move to win.”

Ruben remembered it: “I knew someone was coming up on me. Eventually Eric caught me at eight miles.  We ran together for about a mile.  I knew the last mile pretty well and I started my kick and got the win.”

Justin Freeman shadows Brandon Newbould

Justin Freeman, the winner in 2011, came across third.  “Last year I was in fifth coming up the last hill into the schoolyard and ended seventh.  I tried to save a little more this time and take it easy.  I settled behind Brandon Newbould (5th) for about 4 ½ miles then moved ahead. I came up on Mark Hegarty (4th) and created a little gap of about 30-35 yards.  He (Mark) reeled about half of it back but I had something left at the end.”

One of the unique features of the 10-miler is that a 5K starts on the same route ten minutes earlier.  That makes for some interacting of the two races about a mile in as well as at the finish.  There are serious runners and there are those wanted to try it.

“There was a nice crowd,” said Eric Ashe.  “It does get a little hectic at times trying to weave through the runners from the first race.”

Bryan Popp (1748) and Nicholas Denari (513)

I have always positioned myself one mile from the start near the Cushing Museum.  The top finishers always show themselves by that point.  Case in point was today’s 5K.  UMass Amherst graduate Jeffrey Seelaus was in front there.  Same for Williams grad Yvonne Bungei among the women.

St. John’s Prep math teacher Nicholas Denari was poised behind Triton grad Bryan Popp at Cushing but moved on to take second at the finish.

A little more from the top finishers from my interviews:

Eric Ashe: “All the hoses along the way were really helpful.  I’ll probably do the New England Grand Prix and the Cape Cod Marathon.  Besides coaching at Simmons, I also work for Tracksmith (running company in Boston).”

Justin Freeman: “It was a lot cooler the time I won this race.  I’ve been coming here for more than ten years.  It’s fun to do an evening race.  It’s nice to do the same race over and over and be able to make comparisons.  I teach math at the American School in The Hague (Netherlands).  I have a condo in New Hampshire and my family comes over here for seven weeks in the summer.”

Ruben Sanca

Ruben Sanca: “It was great to win for a second time.  I was lucky this time because my strategy of going out fast wasn’t the best.  I am training for the Chicago Marathon in October.”

Karen Roa: “Running is a mental thing for me.  Very busy.  I am a doctorate candidate taking classes.  I had labs this morning.  I stuck to one guy in this race from Whirlaway who helped me a lot.”

My curiosity is why area high school running standouts weren’t in this year’s race.  Where were John Lucey, Peter Lopata, and Dreese Fadil?

Race results

(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)

Ziggy (800) 9th & Will (799) 3rd attend Midland High School in California

Ben Pare – 7th – 10-mile

Betsy Suda – 2nd – 5K

Brandon Newbould – 5th – 10-mile

Katherine Newberry (2492) 40th overall

David Metzger – 9th – 10-mile

Derek Walsh – 13th – Newburyport

Eric Ashe – 2nd – 10-mile

James Bailey – 8th – 10-mile

Jeffrey Seelaus leads

Justin Freeman – 3rd – 10-mile

Shane Whalen 6th – 10-mle

Wheeling along

Karen Roa 2nd at Cushing Museum

Kathryn White – Georgetown – 5K

Margaret Njuguma finished 14th overall

Mark Hegarty 4th – 10-mile

Robert Hollinger 4th – 5K







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Ruben Sanca and Amanda Nurse win 10-mile Yankee Homecoming race

Amanda Nurse female champion

Ruben Sanca male champion

(Newburyport MA) Ruben Sanca and Amanda Nurse captured titles in the 59th Yankee Homecoming 10-mile race on Tuesday night.

Both titlists won by over a minute under warm but breezy conditions.  The race starts and ends at Newburyport High School.

The 10-mile race was interesting to watch in the early going because a 5K race with 1631 entrants started on the same route ten minutes earlier.

Despite the ten-minute head start, one mile into the race the best of the 10-milers started to overtake 5K stragglers.

I annually position myself one mile into the race on High Street near the Cushing Museum.  Trying to get an unobstructed picture of the leading 10-milers is always a challenge with runners from both races intermingling.

Dan O’Flynn leads at one mile and will win the 5K event

I did get a good look, however, at the leaders of the 5K race. Actually, I should say leader because Dan O’Flynn of Ipswich had a nice lead at one mile.

Ruben Sanca (1967) follows the motorcycle.

Amanda Nurse at the Cushing Museum

Winners in either the 5K or the 10-mile race are ALWAYS in/near the front after a mile.  That held true today for Dan O’Flynn, Ruben Sanca, and Amanda Nurse.

After I see the runners from both races at one mile, I walk back to Newburyport High School to catch the top runners in the 10K.

Two things I noticed about the ten mile race; one before the race and the other later when I checked the results.  First, the gap between finishers was large.  Ruben Sanca won by over a minute.  The gap between 3rd and 4th was 2 ½ minutes!  I can recall a race, that finished in the back, where three runners were all within sight battling for the win in the last fifteen yards.

Second was that there wasn’t a single top-ten repeater from last year in this year’s race.  How does that happen?  We’re talking a complete turnover in a race that pays money!

I hoped to chat with the men’s winner afterwards, but he had left.  At 6’2” I think I would have spotted him if he was anywhere nearby.

After seeing my one-mile pictures, I might have asked if he had brought a runner along to help him set a fast pace in the early going.  My picture of Ruben at one mile has a runner with him who never finished.  Maybe the other runner went out too fast?  Maybe he was a pace setter?

Amanda Nurse

I did track down Amanda Nurse, who was the women’s winner.  This was Amanda’s first time in the race.  She had been to Newburyport before but only to visit the waterfront.  She was treating the race as a training event as she prepares to run the Berlin Marathon in Europe in September.  I asked her how she won the race (27th overall): “I started out with one other woman and then I just found a pack of men that I was able to stay with.  I averaged something like 5:55 for the first half.  I started to feel a little tired when I hit that first hill (up from the Chain Bridge rotary).  I just stuck with it and started to separate from some people.  I ran on my own for the last three miles.”

I mentioned the turnover of runners in the 10-mile race.  One of the runners, Justin Freeman, who finished 7th, was the winner in the 2011 YH 10-miler that I covered.

There were 1631 starters in the 5K and it seems to draw a good collection of local runners.  I found three schools (Amesbury, Triton, Pentucket) with runners (Brian Abel, Colin Brennan, Peter Lopata, Will Coppola) near the front.

I did homework on some of the top finishers.

Ruben Sanca – from Cape Verde and is training for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020, put into the UMass Lowell Hall of Fame in 2017, runs for Whirlaway.

Dan Vassallo – business consultant at Gravoc in Peabody, runs for Central Mass Striders.

Garrett Kenyon – ran at Creighton University.

Jason Reilly – from Rhode Island, 114th in Boston Marathon.

Jerry Lanning – went to Colorado State, runs for the Greater Boston Track Club.

Mark Hegarty – went to Springfield Cathedral and UMass Lowell, runs for Whirlaway.

Eric Mendoza – history teacher in Boston, went to Gonzaga, runs for the Greater Boston Track Club.

Jackie Solimine – 2nd woman in 10-mile, named UMass Lowell’s scholar/athlete of the year in 2017, finished with 3.88 GPA majoring in mechanical engineering, runs for Whirlaway.

McGrath Bissaillon – went to Providence, father coaches Amesbury track (?).

Chris Mahoney – went to UMass Amherst, is a biopharmaceutical scientist, runs for the Central Mass Striders.

Race Results

(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)

Amanda Nurse nears the finish line

Ruben Sanca heads for the finish

Justin Freeman leads the way over several top-ten finishers at one mile in the 10-mile race

Jackie Solimine – 2nd female, 10 mile race

Caroline Turner – 3rd female 10 mile race

Brian Abel (2), Colin Brennan (224), Peter Lopata (1310), Will Coppola (2651)

Joe Rand, Steve Dowsett, Eric Salvo 5K runners

Dan O’Flynn

Heather Page finishes the 5K



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Aschalew Mekete and Meseret Kitata win 2013 Yankee Homecoming 10 mile race

Aschalew Mekete wins with fellow Ethiopians Mengistu Nebsi and Tariku Bokan close behind.

Aschalew Mekete wins with fellow Ethiopians Mengistu Nebsi and Tariku Bokan close behind.

Meseret Kitata takes the female division with Aimaz Fekade in sight behind her.

Meseret Kitata takes the female division with Aimaz Fekade in sight behind her.

(Newburyport) They represented the West Side Runners of New York City, as well as Ethiopia, extremely well.

The top three spots in the 54th Yankee Homecoming 10-mile race in both male and female divisions were captured by newcomers to this race from WSX/Ethiopia in terrific times.

With temperatures in the low 70s, the Tuesday evening event was pleasant for both runners and spectators.

Dan Hocking narrowly won last year’s race with a time of 51:49.  Granted it was a hot evening.  In this year’s event, that time would have earned him 10th.  That’s how fast the male field was this time around.

As the photo above shows, the top three (Aschalew Mekete, Mengistu Nebsi, and Tariku Bokan) were all in view in the final stretch at Newburyport High School.  They were five seconds apart with Aschalew winning at 49:07.

Tariku, in 3rd, completed the course over a minute ahead of fourth place finisher Amos Sang (Abilene Christian/Kenya).  Amos was part of the lead pack in the early going.

Early leaders in 10 mile

Early leaders in 10 mile

Another person in the early-lead pack was Tadesse Biratu who ended up 7th.

The winners in the female side were: Meseret Kitata, Aimaz Fekade, and Hirut Beyene.  These women finished 17th, 18th, and 19th overall.  Meseret’s time was 56:22 and Aimaz was only seven seconds after her.

Pat Fullerton runs alone at one-mile mark

Pat Fullerton runs alone at one-mile mark

Pat Fullerton dominated the 5K part of the racing program and that’s putting it mildly.  I try to position myself one mile into the race (Cushing Museum) to get a sense of the early going.  As my picture shows, Pat was at the museum as his pursuers are at the State Street/High Street traffic light.  (What those cars in the picture are doing I’ll never know!)

Pat won the race (15:21) by over thirty seconds over Lucas Parson of Umass Lowell.

Alanna Poretta #1702

Alanna Poretta #1702

Alanna Poretta paced the 5K women (18:25) finishing 23rd overall.  I saw her win the Cape Ann League championship running for Pentucket at Bradley Palmer Park a few years ago.

Rebecca Morse, also a Pentucket grad, finished third just four seconds behind Jana Schulson of Newburyport.

The races attracted a total of more than 3,000 runners ranging from the serious to the casual.  The course provides a nice look at two of Newburyport’s most scenic areas: High Street and the downtown area.

In researching the West Side Runners of New York City, I found Alene Reta mentioned as a member.  Alene won the Yankee Homecoming 10-mile event several times.  Maybe he had something to do with getting this year’s participating club members involved in the Newburyport race??

This is the link to the complete race results for 2013.

(All of the pictures above and below enlarge considerably if you click on them.)

Matt Pelletier (6th)

Matt Pelletier (6th)

Brian Harvey (5th)

Brian Harvey (5th)

Amos Sang (4th)

Amos Sang (4th)

Tadesse Biratu (7th) and Nick Karwoski (8th)

Tadesse Biratu (7th) and Nick Karwoski (8th)

5K crowd at Fruit Street

5K crowd at Fruit Street

Lucas Parson (#3038 - 2nd) and Stephen Robertson (#1803 - 3rd)

Lucas Parson (#3038 – 2nd) and Stephen Robertson (#1803 – 3rd)

Hirut Beyene - 3rd

Hirut Beyene – 3rd

Aimaz Fekade - 2nd

Aimaz Fekade – 2nd

Justin Freeman - former winner finishes 11th

Justin Freeman – former winner finishes 11th

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2011 Yankee Homecoming Race Winners: Justin Freeman, Lesley Hocking, Tim Murtagh, Kirsten Kasper

Justin Freeman (New Hampton NH) wins the 51st Yankee Homecoming 10 mile race in 52:18 in Newburyport

One mile into the 5K race - Aldous Strother (#2173), Daniel Blouin (#2339), Tim Murtagh (#521) and Kevin Alliette (#2895) - Tim ended up 1st, Kevin 2nd, Aldous 3rd, and Daniel 4th

(Newburyport MA) The usual large turnout plus some unusually cooler temperatures made a nice setting for runners and spectators at the 51st annual 5K/10M Yankee Homecoming racing events on Tuesday night.

Tim Murtagh (Rowley/Connecticut College) held off Kevin Alliette (Methuen/UMassLowell) to take the 5K race.  Later, it was Justin Freeman (New Hampton NH/Bates) cruising to victory in the 10 mile event.

I was positioned at the one-mile mark (in front of the Cushing Museum) to see the early part of both races.  It was a good place to be because the front-runners there turned out to be in a similar position later.  The first four finishers in the 5K were in a pack in the front at one mile.

The slight exception to being in front early was 10-mile winner Justin Freeman.  He was back in 6th there but explained later in the Newburyport News article that he had messed himself up in two previous races here by going out too fast.

Leaders one mile into 10M: Joseph Koech (#3092), Bryan Morseman (#2738), Joseph Ekuom (#3091) and Matthew Manning (#418) -

It was a surprise that the cooler (for August – 70s) weather didn’t produce some sort of record times.  Maybe the field wasn’t as strong as it has been in the past??

Chris Suprin and Keith Conway of Newburyport High School ran well early in the 5K and Chris was around to pick up 6th place at the end.  Keith was 12th.

Pat Rich of South Hamilton was 5th in the 10 miler.  He has been involved in the high school track programs at Hamilton-Wenham and Ipswich.

Greg Krathwohl of Ipswich High and Middlebury College (VT) finished eleventh in the 10M.

Joseph Navas came in eighth in the 10M.  I learned from his wife, while waiting for the runners to arrive at the finish line, that he had proposed to her at the finish line of the Boston Marathon and that they had gone on their honeymoon to New York so that he could run in the New York Marathon.

Newburyport High School runners Keith Conway (#2058) finished 12th and Chris Suprin (#187) finished 6th.

Lesley Hocking from Dover (NH) was the first woman finisher in the 10M while Kirsten Kasper from North Andover (would former Bruins’ coach Steve Kasper be her father??) led the women in the 5K.

Other pictures I took at the races.  By the way, I’m not a professional photographer.  If anyone is interested in a copy of a picture I will be glad to email it to you free of charge.

Joseph Navas 8th 10M

Pat Rich 5th 10M

Joseph Koech 4th 10M

Bryan Morseman 3rd 10M

Jim Johnson 2nd 10M

Aldous Strother and Tim Murtagh 5K

Dana Bradshaw 5K pushing carriage

James Bradbury 5K

Hannah/Thayer Phipps - 5K

Benjamin St. Lawrence 5K

Greg Krathwohl - 11th 10M

Joseph Navas - 8th 10M

Justin Freeman

Lesley Hocking - 10M woman winner

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