By RYAN O'LEARYrolearyfosters.com
Sunday, March 29, 2009
Sunday, March 29, 2009
Alan MacRae/for the Citizen Heidi Westerling takes on the final stretch of the Gilmanton 5K Road Race and Walk Saturday. Westerling's time of 17:34 set a female record for the 11th-year event.
GILMANTON — The weather was cool but dry, perfect for a run. And the field for the 11th annual Gilmanton 5K Road Race and Walk was the event's biggest yet, featuring more than 360 participants. So it was fitting when two newcomers broke the tape Saturday morning. Heidi Westerling set a new course record for women, cracking Mary Proulx's top time of 18:18 set in 2006, and Vermont's Justin Fyffe surged away from the field on the final 200-meter straightaway to take first place overall in 16 minutes, 8 seconds. Westerling, an Acworth native who won the New Bedford Half (Mass.) Marathon just two weekends ago, was never threatened on her first jaunt around Gilmanton's hilly, 52-meter road course. The 28-year-old's record-setting mark of 17 minutes, 34 seconds was a breezy 1:20 ahead of Proulx (Ashland), who took second in 18:54. "It's an interesting course," said Westerling, who drove around the loop with some friends before Saturday's race to get a feel for it. "I just wanted to come and see what I could do for a 5K on it. ... I knew what to expect."While Westerling was on cruise control from the first corner on, the top-five men were locked in a tussle for first place overall. The real racing started as the course, which opens with a 1.5-mile decent down Route 140, switched to a dirt road with a steady incline. The lead changed three times during the climb, with fourth-place finisher Wilson Perez and Mascenic Regional High senior Job Christiansen each stepping ahead of Fyffe. It was the 30-year-old Perez out front as the pack curled right onto Currier Hill Road. "The first mile and a half was really steep down," said Fyffe, 28. "It was really fast, a fast turnover. My feet were pounding pretty hard."When we got to the dirt road everybody slowed down quite a bit. It's a really steep hill."And the long hill caught Fyffe, who had never seen the course before Saturday, by surprise."I just shot it from the hip," he said. He had the freshest legs during the course's most grueling stretch. Perez backed off about a quarter of the way up the hill and Christiansen stormed ahead of Fyffe to take a brief lead. But Fyffe never let the 18-year-old out of his sight, sticking with him and catching him as the hill crested and turned to a level sprint to the finish line. "We were kind of going back and forth for a while, I guess," Christiansen said.With a final burst down Cat Alley, the race's final leg, Fyffe broke the tape without a competitor on his tail. Christiansen (16:14) finished six seconds later, followed by New Hampton native Justin Freeman (16:16), Perez (16:21) and Chris Mahoney (16:24)."I kept the surge going for a few hundred yards after the hill," Fyffe said, "and (Christiansen) was kind of done at the hill. I think that's what made the difference."Vermont's Stephanie Westcott (19:10), 15-year-old Jacy Christiansen (19:33) and Heather Ann Searles (19:59) placed third through fifth, respectively, in the women's field. Ann Rasmussen, a veteran local runner from Plymouth, took sixth at 20:58. The event nearly doubled in numbers compared to last year's icy trek. A field of 210 runners braved wind, ice and temperatures in the low 20s last March to celebrate the race's 10th anniversary."This is by far the deepest field you will ever see," Race Director Scott Clark said. Clark, the Sant Bani School track coach and a Gilmanton native, finished the race third in his 40 to 49 age group in a crisp 17:29.Lakes Region runners of all ages turned in top times Saturday.Clark was fourth and Alton's John Tuttle (19:17) was eighth in the men's masters group. Rasmussen topped the women's masters field with Meredith's Mary Gosling (23:45) fifth and Laconia's Sara Rosenbloom (24:38) ninth.In the youngsters group, ages 14 and under, Franklin's Morgan Mason (25:31) was fourth and Tilton's Sloane Frederick (30:11) was ninth for girls; Alton's Drew Tuttle (19:33), Gilmanton's Peter Howe (20:32), Northfield's Michael Roy (23:29), Thornton's Kyle Hodges, Gilmanton's Mitchell Filion and Northfield native Marc Roy all placed in the top 10 for the boys' 14 and under group.Gilmanton natives Taylor Clark (24:37) and Lynsey Tyler (24:45) took fourth and fifth, respectively, in the girls 15-19 range, followed closely by West Thornton's Lisa Cash (26:27) and New Hampton's Lauren Bergeron (26:55); Wolfeboro's Max Thomas took finished third in the boys 15 to 19 group in 18:53.In the female 20 to 29 group, Campton's Corrine Schlabach (24:06) took fourth and Center Harbor's Ashley Bener (30:55) was 10th. Andover's Sarah Lester (24:42), Sandwich's Jennifer Marks (26:20) and Northfield's Michelle Bohler (26:50) placed third through fifth, respectively, in the female 30 to 39 group, while Holderness native Ben Savage (20:52) took 10th in the men's range.Gosling was third in the female 40 to 49 group, while Doug Gosling (21:18) and Alton's Alan Barrett were seventh and ninth, respectively, on the men's side. In the 50 to 59 bracket, Rosenbloom was fourth and Danbury's Gail Bliss (28:30) was 10th among women; Tuttle was second, Center Sandwich native Steve Olatsen (22:31) was eighth, Sanbornton's Franz Vail (22:37) was ninth and Gilford's Steven Snow (23:47) was 10th for the men.The local standouts were rounded out by eight male runners aged over 60. Holderness' Eugene Fahey (22:54) was second in the 60 to 69 group. Meredith's James Miller (27:04) was fourth, with Alexandria's Earl Mills (28:38), Sanbornton's Robert Schongalla (28:38), Tilton's Don Shaw (29:01), Belmont's Ray Dbouin (29:35) and Sanbornton's David Adams (29:46) rounding out spots six through 10.Franklin native Terrance Humphrey, 71, took first place in the 70 and over division, finishing in 30:22.Alan MacRae photo Justin Fyffe, front, pulls away from the pack in the closing moments of Saturday's Gilmanton 5K Road Race and Walk. Fyffe was the first place overall finisher at 16 minutes, 8 seconds.