(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!
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.”
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, 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.”
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: “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?
(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)