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Andy Schachat's On the Run: NH's race within the race

April 14. 2013 1:07AM

IT'S THE RACE within the race. On Monday, as tens of thousands run the 26.2 miles of the Boston Marathon, coverage will focus on the front runners, including some of the world's greatest marathoners.

But here in New Hampshire, the spotlight will be on the Granite State runners. For decades, the top New Hampshire male and female runners at Boston have been regarded with the prestige they deserve. There's even an award for those two runners, the Henri Renaud Award, named for the Nashua resident who won at Boston in 1909, the only New Hampshire runner ever to win the race.

Presented annually by the Gate City Striders running club, the award was created in 2009, the 100th anniversary of Renaud's historic finish.

In the years since Renaud won with a time 2 hours 53 minutes 36 seconds on a day when temperatures climbed to almost 100 degrees, no other New Hampshire runners have finished first overall, though plenty have provided great stories on their way to finishing first among Granite Staters.

Let's take a look at a few from the past few decades.

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SHE LIVED IN NH? There are three things most running enthusiasts know about Joan Benoit Samuelson: 1.) She won the first Olympic women's marathon, in 1984; 2.) she won multiple Boston Marathons; and 3.) she's from Maine.

What few people know, though, is that between her Boston victories in 1979 and 1983, she was living in Exeter when she finished third at Boston with a time of 2:30:16.

That time remains the best Boston finish ever by a female New Hampshire resident.

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THREE OLYMPIC WOMEN: In addition to earning the distinction of top New Hampshire woman at Boston, Samuelson, Lynn Jennings (Newmarket, 1999) and Cathy O'Brien (Durham, 2008) all competed in the Olympics. Jennings was sixth in the 10,000 meters at the 1988 Games and won bronze in that event in 1992. O'Brien ran the 1988 and '92 Olympic marathons, with a top finish of 10th in the '92 race.

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MOST WINS: From 1974 through 1981, Manchester's Ray Currier was top New Hampshire male four times. On the women's side, Peg Donovan of Auburn also took top Granite State honors four times. Donovan's first win was in 1984, when she was Peg Pingitore and a Manchester resident. Her last win was in 1996, giving her the biggest gap between first and last top New Hampshire finishes.

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FASTEST MAN: Currier ran a 2:18:18 in 1978, the fastest time of any New Hampshire runner at Boston. Currier also owns the only other sub-2:20 finish by a Granite Stater, his 2:19:41 in 1981.

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MULTI-WINNERS: Joining Currier and Donovan as runners who have been top New Hampshire finisher more than once are Paul Oparowski (Epping), Charles Hewes (Keene), Art Sorrell (Laconia), Dave Beauley (Nashua), Kevin Beck (Concord), Brandon Newbould (Dover), Scott Rowe (Dover), Karen Dunn (Durham), Jennifer Rood (Manchester), Miae Jacobs (Atkinson), and Heidi Westover (Walpole). Beauley and Jacobs have three titles while everyone else has two.

Currier, Oparowski, Hewes, Sorrell, Beck, Newbould, Rowe, and Jacobs are the only runners with back-to-back top New Hampshire finishes. No one has been first for three consecutive years.

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CIVIC PRIDE: The municipality with the greatest number of top New Hampshire finishers over the past 30 years? Manchester, the state's largest city, with nine: Currier, Pingitore/Donovan, Rood and Keith Kelly (1997).

Kelly, by the way, has a family member who's also made sports headlines. Brother Chip Kelly this year became the first New Hampshire native to become an NFL head coach, when the Philadelphia Eagles lured him back east from Oregon.

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DOVER DOMINANACE: Last year's victory by Nashua's Tim Perry ended a streak of four straight top New Hampshire finishes by Dover men. Newbould won in 2008 and '09, immediately following back-to-back titles by Rowe, who also had won in 2006.

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THE HEAT IS ON: High temperatures have contributed to slower finishes during the past decade, with the 2004 and 2012 race days being among the hottest for the Boston Marathon. Not surprisingly, the times turned in by the top New Hampshire finishers in those years also were slower than usual: 2:49:45 by Enfield's Rich Smith and 3:26:17 by Jacobs in 2004, 2:45:08 by Perry and 3:12:06 by Hopkinton's Christin Doneski last year.

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HUB TO SUMMIT: Three Granite Staters have both a top-NH Boston finish on their resume along with an outright victory in the state's most prestigious running event, the Mount Washington Road Race.

In addition to her four top-NH Boston finishes, Donovan captured first place in the race to the Northeast's highest summit in 1987. Plaistow's Craig Fram was top NH male at Boston in 1995 and won the race up Mount Washington in 1997. O'Brien won at Mount Washington in '97 and was top NH female at Boston in 2008.

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FAST FAMILY: O'Brien isn't the only runner with that surname to have been a top Granite Stater at Boston. She isn't even the only runner with that distinction living under the same roof. Husband Mike O'Brien was the top NH male in 2003, when he finished in 2:36:22.

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DAVID WHO? Scanning the list of top NH finishers recalls a personal story.

In the weeks leading to the 2000 Boston Marathon, I noticed a young man running very fast on a treadmill at my health club. I struck up a conversation and found out he had been a top finisher at the Bay State Marathon the previous fall and also had achieved a top finish in the Martha's Vineyard 20-Miler.

Because he hadn't run any local races, no one knew who he was. (Believe me; I asked around). That's why a few eyebrows were raised when I predicted North Hampton's David Bednarek would be top NH finisher that year. Imagine the "I told you so's" when my prediction came true.

In case I forgot to say it earlier: Thanks, Dave.

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ELDER STATESMAN: No discussion of New Hampshire and the Boston Marathon would be complete without mentioning Ted Vogel.

Vogel was living in the Boston area when he finished second overall in the 1948 marathon, one place better than his finish the previous year, but his many years of residence in Dover give Granite Staters legitimate claim to calling him one of their own. Happy 65th anniversary of your runner-up finish, Ted.

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RUNNING SHORTS: Madison's Jim Johnson and Peterborough's Kristin Ramey were the winners of the Great Bay Half Marathon in Newmarket. Dover's Casey Carroll and Karen Fogg of York, Maine, won the accompanying 5K ... The first two legs of the Capital Area Race Series are in the books. Manchester's Nacho Hernando and Abbey Wood won the Gilmanton 5K. Concord's Eric Williams and New London's Jen Mortimer crossed the line first in the State Employees Association 5K. Next up for the CARS: the NHTI/Delta Dental 5K in Concord this Friday night ... I'm told you should bring your appetite to the Stonyfield Earth Day 5K in Londonderry this coming Saturday. Word is, there's going to be a ton of food at that race.

"Andy on the Run" appears every other week in the New Hampshire Sunday News. Email Andy Schachat at

Top New Hampshire finishers at Boston

Year-by-year top NH fnishers in the Boston Marathon.

A year-by-year look at the fastest Boston Marathon times recorded by runners from the Granite State
YearTop Male, Town, TimeTop Female, Town, Time
2012Tim Perry, Nashua, 2:45:08Christin Doneski, Hopkinton, 3:12:06
2011Scott Rowe, Dover, 2:28:15Alexandra Varanka, Amherst, 2:58:27
2010Scott Rowe, Dover, 2:24:34Heidi Westover, Walpole, 2:39:14
2009Brandon Newbould, Dover, 2:33:27Heidi Westerling, Acworth, 2:43:11
2008Brandon Newbould, Dover, 2:32:51Cathy O'Brien, Durham, 2:59:21
2007Patrick Moulton, Pelham, 2:24:58Tammie Robie, Milford, 3:03:59
2006Scott Rowe, Dover, 2:29:42Bonnie Ritchotte, Littleton, 3:10:25
2005Derek Holland, Concord, 2:37:26Danyelle Phelps, Milton, 2:56:46
2004Rich Smith, Enfield, 2:49:45Miae Jacobs, Atkinson, 3:26:17
2003Mike O'Brien, Durham, 2:36:22Miae Jacobs, Atkinson, 3:12:27
2002Kevin Beck, Concord, 2:28:35Liisa Miller, Strafford, 3:12:14
2001Kevin Beck, Concord, 2:24:25Kathleen Proulx, Windham, 3:14:46
2000David Bednarek, N. Hampton, 2:36:11Miae Jacobs, Atkinson, 3:11:54
1999Chris Carter, Concord, 2:35:09Lynn Jennings, Newmarket, 2:38:37
1998Dave Beauley, Nashua, 2:27:37Olga Kennison, Keene, 3:06:30
1997Keith Kelly, Manchester, 2:35:05Linda Waitkun, Conway, 3:19:31
1996Dave Beauley, Nashua, 2:28:28Peg Donovan, Auburn, 3:13:13
1995Craig Fram, Hampstead, 2:22:58Jennifer Rood, Manchester, 2:56:55
1994Dave Beauley, Nashua, 2:24:16Wendy Lane, Hampton Falls, 3:02:09
1993Eddie Ou, Hanover, 2:43:55Rose Galligan, Pembroke, 3:15:33
1992Art Sorrell, Laconia, 2:35:23Irene Webb, Dublin, 3:11:12
1991Art Sorrell, Laconia, 2:25:41Jennifer Rood, Manchester, 2:57:44
1990Bob Maurer, Hanover, 2:36:36Libby Greaney, Henniker, 3:08:38
1989Charles Moeser, Campton, 2:39:53Peg Donovan, Auburn, 2:51:27
1988Scott Jaynes, Hanover, 2:39:20Rose Galligan, Pembroke, 3:12:00
1987John Wright, Stratham, 2:31:52Peg Donovan, Auburn, 2:55:38
1986Charles Hewes, Keene, 2:23:16Sima Dianat, Litchfield, 2:54:22
1985Charles Hewes, Keene, 2:23:35Karen Dunn, Durham, 2:42:22
1984Robert Wilson, Keene, 2:23:27Peg Pingitore, Manchester, 3:08:11
1983Brian Igoe, Newmarket, 2:20:20Karen Dunn, Durham, 2:33:35
1982William Pike, Nashua, 2:26:31NA
1981Ray Currier, Manchester, 2:19:41Joan Benoit, Exeter, 2:30:16*
1980Paul Oparowski, Epping, 2:22:17NA
1979Paul Oparowski, Epping, 2:20:29NA
1978Ray Currier, Manchester, 2:18:18**NA
1977Ray Currier, Manchester, 2:29:15NA
1976Rob Duncan, Hanover, 2:32:06NA
1975Ray Currier, Manchester, 2:29:45NA
1974Mike Cryans, Littleton, 2:27:00NA
* N.H. women's record: 2:30:16, Joan Benoit, Exeter, 1981
** N.H. men's record: 2:18:18, Ray Currier, Manchester, 1978
Sources: Boston Athletic Association, New Hampshire Union Leader archives

Running Andy Schachat On the Run