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USATF-NE Communications Manager
Posts by Jenny Gardynski
Team RUN’s Jeff Veiga was the winner of the third race in our Road Racing Grand Prix series, the An Ras Mor 5k on March 30 with a time of 14:39. The recent UMass Lowell graduate has been hitting some impressive times post-graduation, even after considering “hanging up the spikes” this past fall due to some nagging injuries. How has he managed to continue this success?
Learn about his strategy and international racing goals in our exclusive Q&A with Jeff.
Q: What was your strategy for the An Ras Mor 5k? Walk us through your race.
JV: Going into the race I didn’t really know much about the course. I hadn’t run it or even had a chance to look at a map. Strategy wise, I was just planning to go out with the lead group and hang on as long as I could because I hadn’t really tested myself beforehand and didn’t have the best idea where I was with my fitness. But once the race started, I felt good so I just tucked in behind the lead group and tried to stay as relaxed as possible.
From early on, the lead group of Nick, Ruben (both of the Whirlaway Racing Team) and myself separated from the rest of the field. I believe shortly after 1.5 miles, Ruben and I started to pull away from Nick. After that, the two of us just went back and forth a few times until right before the 3 mile mark, where I threw in a surge to pull slightly ahead and then kick it in towards the finish line.
Q: How did you feel about your race result? (We’re impressed). How did it match up to your expectations?
JV: I didn’t really expect much going into the race. I thought I would definitely come away with a top five finish and maybe crack the top three if I was lucky. So to come away with the win and a good time I was definitely happy and surprised.
Q: Why did you decide to compete in the An Ras Mor 5k and can we expect to see you at any of the other upcoming Grand Prix series races?
JV:I decided to run the An Ras Mor 5k because it was part of the USATF-NE Grand Prix series and I wanted to represent Team RUN, as we had a chance to place very well in the team standings – which we did with a third place finish.
I do plan to compete in more of the Grand Prix races as long as they fit into my racing schedule, which is mainly targeted at running a fast 5K and possibly a 10k on the track.
Q: What is your training like right now – and is there anything in particular you’re training for?
JV: My training is going very well right now. I was hurt throughout the entire fall season and strongly considered hanging up the spikes if I couldn’t get healthy by the end of January. But after a few visits with Dr. John Donovan of Advantage Chiropractic, I was healthy again and running pain-free. Since then, I have been steadily increasing my mileage, in hopes of continuing my career and competing at a high level. Right now I am running about 95 miles per week, with one long run, one long workout and a little bit of speed here and there.
Having recently received my Portuguese citizenship, I am currently training to hopefully compete in and place well at the Portuguese National Champions in Lisbon, Portugal on July 26 and 27.
Q: Lastly, we know you’re a member of Team RUN. Tell us what it’s like being on the team and what aspects of the team compelled you to join?
JV: I’ve been a member of Team RUN for almost a year now. It’s really fun and we have a great group of guys, some which I actually train with on a regular basis – and we are all well supported by our sponsor Marx Running & Fitness in Acton, MA. I had been working with the team’s coach Mark Coddaire, as he’s also the owner of the Marx Running & Fitness store, so I knew about the team and everything associated with it. It just seemed like the best fit for me at the time, and I feel like I definitely made a good choice.
*Thanks to Jeff for taking the time to share his story with us. We wish him continued success on all levels – from local to international!
Today, USA Track & Field New England has announced All Terrain Runner (ATR), a new official series comprising races of varying distances, seasons and surfaces. The series kicks off just next month on May 4 with a 10k trail race, before competitors race on the track, mountains and roads, closing with a cross country event in the fall.
USATF-NE President Tom Derderian described the idea behind the series, explaining that “Some runners race best on the track, some on the roads, some up mountains and over trails, and others on broad cross country courses. You know how you rank in the discipline you race in, but how do you rank if you combine all of these? This is the running version of the decathlon.”
The complete 2014 ATR series includes:
- May 4 – Trail: Sleepy Hollow 10k
- May 5-July 20 – Outdoor Track: 5000 meters *(USATF-NE members can submit their own result from any 5000 meter race run in a USATF sanctioned meet through our web form during this time frame. A competitor may complete several outdoor 5000 meter races; however only the fastest time will count in the final scoring.)
- July 6 – Mountain: Loon Mountain
- September 14 – Road: Lone Gull 10k
- November 9 – Cross Country: USATF-NE New England Championships
With the Sleepy Hollow 10k just a couple of weeks away, those interested in participating in the ATR series can register for the first race here. Competitors can register on race-day; however the entry fee increases from $15 to $25 after May 2, and registration will close when the maximum capacity of 250 racers is reached.
With no team scoring component, the series offers scoring and prizes for individuals only. There will be a total of $5,000 available in awards. The prize structure, awarding monetary rewards to the top five male and female finishers, is as follows:
- First – $1,000
- Second – $500
- Third – $250
- Fourth – $100
- Fifth – $50
Cash prizes will also be awarded to age group winners in the following age divisions: 40-49, 50-59 and 60-69. To be considered for a place in the final standings, competitors must complete four out of the five races, and participants who complete all five events will receive a special series t-shirt.
More details on the ATR series, including a formal landing page, are coming soon.
Today marked the third race in our Grand Prix series. Photos of the rainy but very competitive An Ras Mor 5k in Cambridge, organized by the Somerville Road Runners, can be found in albums by Scott Mason and Thomas Cole.
Come across any other photos from the race? Feel free to link to them in the comments section on Facebook. Thanks!
An update on our USATF-NE Grand Prix Road Racing series is coming soon. In the meantime, we caught up with the USATF-NE winners of our most recent Grand Prix race, the New Bedford Half Marathon: Ruben Sanca of the Whirlaway Racing Team and Andrea Walkonen, currently unattached.
Hear what they had to say about their latest wins, current training and what the future holds for each in the world of racing.
If you come across any additional photo albums that we missed, feel free to link to them in the comments section on Facebook – thanks!
As we approach the second race in our Road Racing Grand Prix series this weekend — the New Bedford Half Marathon — we have two individuals leading the overall series.
The first and only race so far, the Jones 10 Miler, took place late last month in Amherst, MA. The challenging, hilly course didn’t stop Eric Ashe and Erica Jesseman from taking the top spots for the open male and female USATF-NE competitors. As your current Grand Prix leaders, we wanted to hear a little bit from these two local athletes about what it took to take the titles, and where we can expect to see them throughout the year.
Eric Ashe, B.A.A. — Male Open USATF-NE Grand Prix Leader
Eric chose to compete in the Jones 10 Miler because it’s part of the Grand Prix series and he wanted to score points for his team, the B.A.A. He also knew there would be some solid competition, and it would serve as a good preparation for the upcoming Boston Marathon he’s currently training for.
“I used the race as a good workout for Boston,” Eric said, noting he did a longer warm-up than usual (6 miles) and went right into a 4 mile cool down to get his mileage in. “It was definitely a good indicator of how training is going, as my legs weren’t too beat up after the race,” he said.
It’s the first time Eric is really focusing on the marathon and he reports that his training is going very well. He says he’s in the best aerobic shape he’s ever been, which clearly showed in his last race, where he completed the 10 mile course in 50:43 — that’s 5:04 per mile pace, and overall 7 seconds faster than second place finisher Ruben Sanca of the Whirlaway Racing Team.
We can expect to see Eric on the starting line at the New Bedford Half Marathon, where he plans to approach the race in the same manner as the first Grand Prix race, which is to go for the win but also use it as a workout for Boston. Looking ahead to April, Eric says: “I’m excited for what is to come at Boston as long as I can teach my body to hold up for 26.2 miles, and if I can stay healthy and consistent.”
For more on Eric’s training and racing, check out his NPR blog and this recent feature article on him at the same media outlet. Considering his early Grand Prix lead, it appears Eric may be the one to beat in the 2014 series.
Erica Jesseman, Dirigo Running Club – Female Open USATF-NE Grand Prix Leader
Erica joined the Dirigo Running Club in the summer of 2011 after graduating from the University of New Hampshire, attracted to the club’s fun and laid back environment — and living in Maine, it was most convenient for her too. For the Jones 10 Miler race, Erica had a similar approach as Eric, envisioning it as a great workout. She was most excited to compete with her Dirigo teammates Sheri Piers and Kristin Barry, who are Erica’s main training partners and mentors. Also training for Boston, she knew this race would serve as a nice preparation.
Her approach was to go out comfortably and controlled. “I knew I needed to run my own race; I didn’t focus on anyone but myself and my paces,” she said. Her approach obviously was the right one, as she came into the finish at 59:33, which is 5:58 per mile pace.
Leading up to the race, Erica had been training through a tough winter like many of us, after suffering from IT Band Syndrome in the fall. Despite the conditions and bouncing back from the injury, she’s managed to hit 80-90 miles per week, many of them on the treadmill and hilly long runs outside on the weekends. “I haven’t been hitting my highest mileage during this marathon training cycle,” Erica noted, “it’s been more quality over quantity.”
Where else can we expect to see Erica in race results? Next on the calendar is the New Bedford Half Marathon, and in April she’ll be lining up for the Boston Marathon.
Congratulations to both Eric and Erica on their early leads in the USATF-NE Grand Prix series. Stay tuned for Sunday’s race results in New Bedford, to see how they fare as they look to continue their winning streaks while training for the Boston Marathon.
The 37th Annual New Bedford Half Marathon on March 16th marks the second race in the USATF-NE Road Racing Grand Prix series. But for Whirlaway‘s Sarah Prescott, the race signifies much more. In fact, once she crosses the finish line, she will have completed her 100th consecutive USATF-NE Grand Prix race.
A runner since 1978, Sarah started entering Grand Prix races in 2000 when the club team she was a member of participated in the team competition. Motivated by seeing her name in the standings, she never looked back. Throughout this time, not only has she been a consistent name in our race standings, but she’s even found her way to the top of the results page many times too. She placed sixth last year in the series for the women’s 45-49 year old age group, and finished fourth the year prior.
Showcasing her range, in 2013, Sarah ran 36:11 for the 5 miler, 1:36:14 for the half marathon and 3:53:49 for the marathon. Considering the variety of distances included in the Grand Prix, Sarah’s training must prepare her for all sorts of races. This is why she has tailored her training based on the Grand Prix race schedule each year.
In addition to the series typically offering some races in her neck of the woods in New Hampshire, Sarah also says the Grand Prix boasts a good combination of distances and locations, while fostering camaraderie and team competition, which she enjoys with the Whirlaway Racing team. While there are no official rankings for her streak, she says “Looking at available stats, next behind me is Christopher Chetsas (a fellow Goon Squad founder) with his streak of 6 consecutive Ironrunner years. My streak has been 14 consecutive Ironrunner years, plus one race in 2014.”
So what’s next for Sarah? “Just keep running!” she says. ”I’ve done more than I ever imagined being able to do and feel incredibly fortunate for all the wonderful people I’ve become friends with… how could I ask for anything more?”
Reflecting on her favorite Grand Prix moments, Sarah adds: “There are so many wonderful memories, it would take a story itself! Cape Cod Marathon was always extra special, first time I qualified for Boston Marathon and some really fun post-race parties.”
We would like to extend our congratulations to Sarah for her dedication to and successes in the USATF-NE Grand Prix series, and wish her continued success, especially at the upcoming New Bedford Half Marathon!
UPCOMING RACES – Important Deadlines & Registration Details
The 2014 Road Racing Grand Prix officially kicks off tomorrow, February 23rd, with the Jones 10 Miler in Amherst, MA. The challenging race along scenic, hilly rural roads offers a total of $9,250 in prize money. $1,750 will be awarded to top individuals, $2,500 in age group prizes (no double dipping) and $5,000 for top teams. The event is rooted in New England history, having been founded by USATF-NE President Tom Derderian in 1975 as a tune-up race before the Boston Marathon. In fact, as the race website notes, “Bill Rodgers won Jones 10 Miler the first year it was held and used the race as a training run for his first Boston Marathon victory.” Past results for the race can be viewed here. If you’re still interested in racing and have yet to sign up, it’s not too late. Race-day registration begins at 9:00 am at Amherst Regional High School.
The full 2014 Grand Prix schedule is outlined below, but there are two races taking place just next month that we want to make you aware of. The 37th Annual New Bedford Half Marathon will be held on March 16, with registration closing on March 1.
Next up in the calendar is the An Ras Mor 5k in Cambridge, the shortest race distance in the series. Held on March 30, runners can enter up until race day; however, entry fees go up $5 after March 9. USATF members will receive a discount on the registration fee. Please note that there are are no special steps needed to do so — simply select the “USATF member” category and know your 2014 individual USATF member number, which can be looked up here.
2014 Road Racing Grand Prix Calendar
Updates to the 2014 Grand Prix Guidelines
There are a few notable changes to the Grand Prix Guidelines this year. Men’s and Women’s 70+ age group teams will be included in the scoring, as well as women’s 65-69 and 70+ individual age groups. Additionally, individuals winning their age group will begin with 10 points and those in second, third, etc, will be scored one point less for the top ten regardless of how many finishers are in the age category. Also in 2014, runners aging into a new category as individuals will still receive points in the age group in which they began the series. Their name will also appear in their new age group and they can accumulate points there as well.
Be sure to visit our website for the latest Grand Prix standings following each event. In 2013 Grand Prix standings, B.A.A. and Whirlaway Racing team took the men’s and women’s open team titles respectively, with Sean Duncan of WMDP and Stephanie Reilly of Team RUN coming in as the the top open individuals. To view the winning Grand Prix teams since 1986, check out that list on our website here.
Which teams and individual runners will take home the top Grand Prix titles and prize packages this year?
With several USATF championship events coming up, both at the regional and national levels, we wanted to make sure no important entry deadlines are missed. We’ve
outlined some key upcoming events below, with the deadlines bolded. Be sure to mark your calendars and check out each event link for more details. See you out on the track or the roads soon!
- USATF-NE Open Indoor Track & Field Championships, Feb. 23 at Harvard University – Entry deadline: Feb.19
- USATF Northeast Zone Youth Indoor Track & Field Championships, Feb. 22-23 at the Bennett Center in Toms River, NJ – Entry deadline: Feb. 19
- USATF National Masters Indoor Championships, March 14-16 at the Reggie Lewis Center - Entry deadline: Feb. 21
- USATF-NE 10 Mile Championship: Jones 10 Mile, Feb. 23 at Amherst Regional High School - Entries accepted until race day