Andy Schachat's On the Run: Running down unique NH memories
ON JULY 14 Plaistow's Craig Fram, 54, and Nottingham's Elizabeth Danis, 15, were the male and female winners of the Hugh Holt Five Mile Road Race in Raymond, creating a 39-year age gap between winners. At the time, I wrote, "Find me a race with a bigger age gap between winners."
Three weeks later, on Aug. 3, the Kingston Firemen's Five Mile race met the challenge when Portsmouth's Janet Parkinson, 61, and East Kingston's DJ Ayotte, 19, created a 42-year gap between winners.
Moments like that convince me the New Hampshire road race/triathlon scene has experienced unique occurrences that are unmatched anywhere in the country. There is no national clearinghouse of American road race/triathlon history, but an age gap between winners that is around 40 years could not have happened too often in other states. There have been more. The following list consists of special moments at New Hampshire road races and triathlons that have either never or rarely occurred anywhere else.
60 PLUS WINNERS - A day after Parkinson won the race in Kingston, Hampton's Bruce Butterworth, 60, won the Marshmallow Man Triathlon in Laconia. On the same weekend, the Granite State had two winners over 60 at two races. Even states with a higher percentage of retirees would have a hard time matching that.
BROTHERS CULLINANE - On Aug. 13, 2011, Seamus, Conor and Eamon Cullinane were the top three finishers at the Lamprey Health Care 5K in Newmarket. In 2012, they finished first, third and fourth. How many races in this country have three brothers racing, let alone finish first, second and third, and almost did it two years in a row?
AMERICA'S FASTEST MILE - In 2011, Hanover's Brian Gagnon won the Hinckley Allen Manchester Mile in three minutes, 44 seconds while Julie Culley of Clinton, N.J., was the women's winner in 4:14. In 2013, Gagon, now living in Lowell, Mass., won the race in 3:43. There is some question about whether Gagnon's winning times are the fastest miles ever run on American soil. There is a race in Wheeling, West Va., that claims its 2003 winner was faster. Regardless, Gagnon's performances are two of the fastest miles in this country. Culley's time, faster than the current American record, is unchallenged as the fastest mile in the U.S.
NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP - There is no debate about this: For the past eight years, the Mount Washington Road Race and the Cranmore Hill Climb have alternated as the USA Track and Field National Mountain Running Championship, Mount Washington on even years, Cranmore on odd years. Despite all the great mountain races in the country, USATF keeps selecting Granite State races for its national championship. That says a lot about the state's running scene. It also says a lot about East Madison's Paul Kirsch, the driving force behind the Granite State's mountain running circuit.
ALL IN THE FAMILY - I am sure other states have seen husband-wife teams win the same road race, but this state has seen some exceptional performances from spouses. Dan and Lesley Hocking, each of whom has been named New Hampshire runner of the year, have won a number of races together. How about Olympian Cathy O'Brien and husband Michael? They won the Children's Museum 5K in Portsmouth three years in a row, each taking home the first place prize of 10 lobsters.
The father-daughter combo of Mark and Casey Hecox of Henniker have won the same race a couple of times, most recently in November 2012.
The rarest of family combos to win the same race, mother-son, occurred in New Hampshire in 2001, when Susan Kenney and Justin Kenney took top honors at the Franklin Regional Hospital 10K. The Kenneys lived in Somerset, Mass., at the time, so New Hampshire was lucky they ran in the Granite State when they accomplished this feat.
RACE WALKING TO A WIN - It helps if an Olympic race walker lives in your state. A number of years ago, national champion race walker Joanne Dow race walked to victory at a New Hampshire race. In a recent conversation with Dow, she could not recall the specific race but verified it happened.
THREE WINS IN ONE DAY...TIMES THREE - My favorite item on this list: For years, Exeter Hospital and the Exeter Kiwanis hosted a 5K/10K event. For most of those years, the races took place in August, but for a few years it was held in the morning of the third Saturday of July. The start times were staggered, allowing a runner to run both races.
It was also held on the same day of an evening race, the Jason Hussey 5K in Greenland. In 2001, 2002 and 2003, Alan Bernier won both Exeter races then showed up in Greenland and won. Think about the logistics of being able to run three races on the same day, let alone winning all three, let alone having it happen three years in a row.
UNIQUE SCHEDULING OF RACES - This one is just for fun. The Portsmouth Rotary Club hosts the Thunder Chicken 5K on the first Thursday of August. On Thanksgiving Day, the Seacoast Rotary Club hosts the Turkey Trot 5K. Both races are on the same course. What's the big deal? Two Rotary Clubs host races on the same course, both on a Thursday, and both races have the name of poultry in it. Told you it was just for fun.
THE MT WASHINGTON DOUBLE - No way I am putting together this list without a self-centered way to include myself. This past June, I did a training run on the Mt. Washington Auto Road. A few days later I did a training run through the Mt. Washington neighborhood of Baltimore, Md. Two training runs on two different Mt. Washingtons, in two different states, within one week? I am calling out America to show me when and where it happened before.
Running shorts: Congrats to the organizers of the Circle Triathlon in Ashland. Over 300 athletes competed in a variety of adult and kid races on Sept. 1. That makes the event one of the largest multi-sport events in the state...Tip of the hat to Ryan Carrara of Hudson, Mass. and Hopkinton's Christin Doneski, winners of the Swanzey Half Marathon on Sept. 1...The Boston Athletic Association has announced the field for the 2014 Boston Marathon will be 36,000, about 10,000 more than this year. The larger field is a response to the increased interest in next year's Boston due to the bombings at this year's race.
Andy Schachat's column appears every other week in the New Hampshire Sunday News. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.