Calais Competitors Conquer Capital City

by Jim Flint
photo by Barb Flint Manny Sainz of Marshfield gives the signal to start the 26th Annual New Year’s Eve Race in Montpelier. Sainz is the president of the Central Vermont Runners.

MONTPELIER – Ninety-five reveling runners rang out the old year on December 31 in downtown Montpelier. Sponsored by Central Vermont Runners, the 26th annual New Year’s Eve Race returned after last year’s pandemic cancellation. Solid footing and temperatures in the mid-30s made for fast times on the hilly 5k looping course.

Montpelier’s Avery Smart won the men’s title in 17:05. Smart is a senior standout in cross country at Montpelier High School. Ali Dunn, 28, returned home from New York City to top the women’s field in 20:19. She graduated from Montpelier High School in 2012. Her racing resume includes the 2017 New York City Marathon.

In a hypothetical team competition, Calais won bragging rights over host Montpelier. Adding up the places for the first five runners from each town, Calais scored 56 points to Montpelier’s 59 points, with the lowest score winning the match-up.

Patrick Cioffi led the Calais cohort with a second-place finish. His time of 17:53 was 39 seconds faster than his runner-up effort at the 2019 New Year’s Eve Race. Patrick’s twin brother, Leo Cioffi, won the 2019 contest in 18:26. Leo placed sixth this time around, finishing in 18:56.

U-32 High School junior Sargent Burns placed third in 17:57. Burns, from Calais, was the fifth runner on the U-32 boys’ squad that won the New England Cross Country Championship. He also plays basketball for the Raiders. U-32 sophomore Amy Felice, from Calais, placed 20th in the New Year’s Eve Race. Felice was the fourth female finisher. Her time was 21:42.

Mack Gardner-Morse, 60, was the fifth Calais runner to cross the finish line. He placed 25th in 22:31 and won the M60-69 age group.

Hazen Union cross country coach Netdahe Stoddard, 44, ran the NYE race for the seventh time. The Cabot runner paced conservatively, moving up in the pack. Stoddard came across the line in 19:00. He placed seventh and won the M40-49 age group. His time was 24 seconds faster than his fourth-place finish in 2019.

In the M70-79 age group, Tim Hogeboom, 70, of Walden, went head-to-head with Wayne Rubin, 71, of White Plains, N.Y. Rubin narrowly edged out Hogeboom, 26:40 to 26:42.

photo by Barb Flint | Tim Hogeboom (#337) of Walden tries to catch Wayne Rubin of White Plans, N.Y., as they race down State Street in Montpelier. Hogeboom finished a close second to Rubin in the M70-79 age group.

Adamant Ace Dot Helling faced tough competition in the F70-79 age group. Helling, 71, placed second in 29:51. Elizabeth Gonnerman, 76, from Hanover, N.H., was the winner in 29:28.  

photo by Barb Flint | Dot Helling of Adamant rounds the final corner of the New Year’s Race by the Vermont Historical Museum. Helling placed second in the F70-79 age group.

Elizabeth McCarthy, 69, of Walden placed second in the F60-69 age group. Her time was 31:08.

Plainfield runners Dennis Shaffer, 67, and Amy Mitchell Gomo, 42, placed sixth in their age groups. Their respective times were 27:19 and 28:01.

Atticus Bailey of Plainfield was one of two nine-year-old participants. He finished in 32:25. Jessica Bailey, 38, of Plainfield rounded out the finishers from towns that the Gazette covers. Her time was 32:30.The next Central Vermont Runners event is the Millstone Madness Snowshoe Race on February 12. The three-mile contest kicks off at 10 a.m., at Millstone Hill in Barre. For more information, visit