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USATF-NE Communications Manager
Posts by Jenny Gardynski
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
If you’re a track & field fan, you know that Boston is the place to be during the indoor season. Whether you’re competing or spectating, the Boston area hosts several competitive meets at the Reggie Lewis Center and Boston University. This past weekend was a prime example of that.
At the nineteenth edition of the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix meet, we witnessed two world records at the Reggie Lewis Center, among a number of other spectacular performances. A USA team of Richard Jones, David Torrence, Duane Solomon and Erik Sowinski passed the baton in the 4×800 relay in 7:13.11, breaking the 14 year-old mark also set by a US select team on the same track back in 2000 by .83 seconds. Second place in the race, also breaking the old world mark and getting credit for the US record as a club team (in 7:13.22) was the New Jersey/New York TC, which included Lowell High School and UConn alum Brian Gagnon. The meet, which was part of the USA VISA Championship Series, also saw a new World Junior record of 2:35.80 in the 1000 meters by Mary Cain of New York. This bettered her own pending mark set last month at Boston University, and puts her at #3 all-time in the US.
A variety of Junior, scholastic and open events included dozens of international competitors, and junior and scholastic relays all
provided exciting competition and new meet records. The top six finishers in the men’s mile ran 4:00.00 or better, Mike Galoob of Wakefield, RI won the masters mile in 4:23.48 over 1992 Olympian John Trautmann, and Cambridge Jets ran from the front to win the youth 4×200 relay. Full results of the meet can be viewed here.
The same weekend saw some exciting results on the other side of the city at the BU David Hemery Valentine Invitational. Tim Ritchie of the B.A.A. hit the qualifying standard for the USATF Indoor Championships in the 3000m. Ritchie ran 7:56.16 for third place, clearly hitting the qualifying mark of 8:03. Harvard’s Maksim Korolev took the title in the event in 7:51.52, setting school and Ivy League records in the process.
The New Jersey/New York TC’s Mike Rutt won the 800m race in a time of 1:46.71. This performance, coupled with his relay race at the New Balance meet in the same weekend, landed the former UConn standout as USATF’s Athlete of the Week. Additionally, the top eight in the men’s mile went sub-4, with BU’s own Rich Peters taking the win in a time of 3:57.27. And on the women’s side, Amanda Winslow of Oiselle won the women’s mile in 4:26,28, moving her up to the sixth fastest American ever. In a competitive 3000m field, Emily Sisson of Providence briefly took the US lead in the event with her time of 9:00.76. For complete results, visit Lancer Timing.
If you attended the USATF East Region and New England Masters Indoor Track & Field Championships late last month, then you saw the crowd it drew. The meet actually had its largest entry list in the four years it’s been held at the Providence Career and Technical Academy track complex in Rhode Island.
The well-attended championship meet was a success, seeing a number of impressive marks from competitors, including two record-setting performances. Two throws records were broken on opposite ends of the age ranges. Gloria Krug of Philadelphia Masters TF Association threw the 16 lb weight an age 80-84 best distance of 6.16 meters/ 20’2.5″. Competing as a guest in the men’s weight throw, high school senior Gabriel Arcaro of Burlington, MA spun the 25 lb ball 20.17m / 66’2.25″ for a new Massachusetts state scholastic best. It bettered the 14 year-old previous mark by a foot and ranks in the top 10 nationwide for the year.
The Massachusetts State Track Coaches Association Hall of Fame inducted their Class of 2014 this past Sunday, adding a stellar group to the hall. Athletes selected had impressive Massachusetts high school careers and earned honors beyond graduation.
The following names of recognition will be added to the wall at the Reggie Lewis Center this year:
- Ari Lambie, the NCAA all-American distance runner hailing from The Bromfield School in Harvard
- Melody Johnson of North Attleboro whose 28 year-old state shot put record still stands
- Joe LeMar, the Brockton middle distance athlete, who went on to win a Paralympic gold medal
- Paul Neves, Jim MacKinnon, Mike Suillivan and Dennis Doucette, all members of Brockton’s national record-setting 4×440 relay team in 1979
- Andy Powell and Maurica Carlucci Powell, middle distance runners from Oliver Ames and Franklin respectively, both now coaches at the University of Oregon
- Brooks Johnson, the Plymouth sprinter who earned a gold medal in the Pan American Games and has coached an Olympic athlete in every Olympic Games from 1972 through 2012
Congratulations to these newest additions to MSTCA’s Hall of Fame!