MIDDLESEX– The 44th annual Bear Swamp Race held an aura that history was about to be made. Evan Thornton-Sherman, the 2021-2022 Vermont state champion in cross country and track and field, was part of the 42-runner field.
Toeing the starting line, Binney Mitchell, 53, remembered Thornton-Sherman’s last appearance at Bear Swamp on July 13, 2018. The 14-year-old stunned the field of adult runners that morning, placing second in 35:22. Coming off the final hill, the youngster held off a furious charge by Mitchell, a champion Masters runner nearly twice his size.
Thornton-Sherman is training this summer, as he prepares to enter the University of Maine. In August, he heads to Orono to join the Black Bears cross country team. He raced Saturday at Bear Swamp without a watch to track his pace. Running the course by feel, he followed in the footsteps of two legendary Vermont runners, Eric Morse and Marc Gilbertson.
Thirty years ago, on July 11, 1992, Morse broke his own course record at the 15th annual Bear Swamp Race. The 27-year-old completed the hilly 5.7-mile course in 29 minutes and 21 seconds. Morse, who graduated from Harwood Union High School in 1983, is the only Vermonter known to have run the mile in under four minutes, a feat he accomplished in 3:59.
On July 12, 2001, Marc Gilbertson ran the next-fastest time at Bear Swamp. The 32-year old finished the course in 31:06. An accomplished runner and cross country skier, he competed in the 50 km freestyle ski event at the 1998 Winter Olympics, held in Nagano, Japan.
The infamous Bear Swamp course climbs 450 feet over the first two miles, rolls through a swamp on a class four road, then descends along tree-lined dirt roads to the finish. The final three-quarters of a mile includes a screaming 250-foot descent.
Thornton-Sherman worked the up hills and down hills equally hard. Aided by low humidity and temperatures in the sixties, the 18-year-old averaged 5:27 per mile. He crossed the finish line in 31:04 to notch the second-fastest time ever on the course.
Last year’s winner, George Aitken, placed a distant second in 35:27. Lori Howe won the women’s division in 37:16. Howe set the women’s course record of 36:09 in 2017. Dylan Broderick earned runner-up honors for the women with a time of 41 minutes flat.
Donna Smyers, Tim Hogeboom, Mack Gardner-Morse, and Elizabeth McCarthy were the top finishers hailing from towns covered by the Gazette. Smyers (47:09) and Hogeboom (48:31) won their respective F60-69 and M70-79 age groups. Gardner-Morse (42:13) and Elizabeth McCarthy (58:23) placed second in their respective age groups, M60-69 and F60-69.
Binney Mitchell won the M50-59 age group, finishing in 36:06. He placed fourth overall.
Tuesday Night Trail Recap
CRAFTSBURY – Tuesday Night Trail races continued on June 28 and July 5 at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center. Sam Brunnette won the 5k race on both nights. Brunnette, the former Plymouth State University NCAA D-III All American, finished the 5k course in 20:03 on June 28. He edged out Ollie Burruss (21:13) and Paul Chambers (21:53) for the victory. On July 5, he completed the 5k in 19:18, winning by more than three minutes.
Kaitlynn Miller notched her first series victory in the June 28 trail race. She placed eighth overall in 24:25. Emma Podolin (24:40) and Audrey Mangan (24:55) placed second and third in the women’s division. KT Kubaloba, 11, and Winnie Emerick, 13, were the top female finishers on July 5. Their respective times were 22:31 and 22:34.
Maxfield English and Adrian Owens were the top male Masters (age 40+) finishers on June 28 and July 5. Their times were 22:17 and 23:29, respectively. Rose Modry was the fastest female Masters finisher in both races. Modry’s times were 26:47 and 25:50. respectively.
Eve Gordon (24:14) edged out Scarlett Podolin (24:16) to win the 3k trail race on June 28. Vince O’Connell (36:07) won the 10k mountain bike race. Niahm McMullen (15:21) was the 3k winner on July 5. Alex Jospe (20:33) won the 5k mountain bike race. Ben Bliss (30:33) was the 10k winner.
The Trail Race Series continues each Tuesday evening through August 23. Mountain bikers and runners start at 5:45 p.m. and 6 p.m. respectively. For race locations, visit craftsbury.com.