Leaf Peeping Seniors Notch Age Group Wins

by Jim Flint
photo by April Farnham Karen Storey (left) and Karen Pallas (right) successfully completed the Leaf Peepers Half Marathon on Sunday, Oct. 3. The Plainfield women participated in a nine-week group running program to prepare for the Leaf Peepers race. The Waterbury race was the first half marathon for Pallas. Storey has run several half marathons in the past and is a veteran of the Boston Marathon.

WATERBURY  ̶  Mountain mist accentuated early autumn foliage Sunday morning at the Leaf Peepers Half Marathon and 5k. The concurrent races started and finished at the State Office Building Complex. Runners shrugged off a light shower as they toed the starting line. Winds were calm and temperatures cool. The rain let up midway through the race. 

Tim Hogeboom and Elizabeth McCarthy used garbage bags with head and arm cutouts to keep dry during the beginning miles of the half marathon. The Walden couple discarded their temporary outerwear at the first water station. They dodged a few puddles and encountered some slick spots, but not much mud. 

“My strategy was to start conservatively and let it fly on the downhills, but save something for the return leg heading upriver,” said Hogeboom. “I passed Manny Sainz shortly before the turnaround and was careful to cut back my pace on every uphill pitch. I felt like I was crumbling in the last mile and just tried to hang on to the finish.”

Hogeboom, 70, was the 67th of 190 half marathon finishers. His time was 1:56:23. McCarthy, 68, placed 159th in 2:25:32. Hogeboom won the M70-79 age group. McCarthy placed fifth of ten women in the F60-69 age group. The athletic couple has participated in multiple races this year, often winning age group awards.

Dot Helling, 71, of Adamant cruised to another victory in the F70-79 age group. Helling finished the half marathon in 2:06:40 to place 111th overall. Like McCarthy and Hogeboom, Helling has her eyes set on the GMAA half marathon. The annual race in South Hero is slated for October 17.

Tammy Russell, 44, of Plainfield was the fastest finisher from towns covered by the Hardwick Gazette. Russell completed the 13.1-mile course in 1:51:03. She placed 50th overall and was third of 25 entrants in the F40-49 age group. Marshfield’s Manny Sainz, 65, finished in 2:02:19. He placed seventh of 15 finishers in the M60-69 age group.

Three senior women from Plainfield also went the distance in the half marathon. Kathleen Swigon, 65, was seventh of ten runners in the F60-69 age group. Her time was 2:32:17. Karen Pallas, 61, and Karen Storey, 62, completed the race in times of 3:02:36 and 3:08:53, respectively. 

In the 5k race, Donna Smyers of Adamant was the fastest finisher from towns covered by the Gazette. Smyers, 64, won the F60-69 age group handily. Her time of 24:18 placed 18th overall of 132 finishers.

Plainfield’s Marie Leahy, 54, placed fourth in the F50-59 age group. Her 5k time was 30:42. Bobbi Brimblecone, 54, of Marshfield, finished in 33:38. She placed sixth in the F50-59 age group.

Leaf Peepers was the inaugural road race for several of the Plainfield and Marshfield women. The runners were part of a Leaf Peepers training group which began in early August. Led by April Farnham of Plainfield, the 24-member group took part in weekly workouts and training runs. Farnham designed the program as a way to gather people outside and give everyone something to strive for.”

“COVID-19 hit people hard with isolation, stress, depression, and loneliness,” said Farnham. “Fitness levels and healthy eating habits were taking a back seat to the day-to-day survival mode. The program was a win-win for the Leaf Peepers race and for the people who took up the training.”