by Jim Flint
NORTHFIELD ̶ The Labor Day Weekend festival kicked off on September 3 with perfect weather to celebrate the annual end-of-summer event. Stretching their legs under bright blue skies, participants with ties to the greater Hardwick area were among the jubilant throng of runners and walkers at the festival’s 5k race. With rapidly beating hearts and rhythmically pounding feet, the local athletes vied for top age group awards.
Twinfield senior Ethan Parrish wasted no time moving into the lead pack for the 5k race. Wearing his bright red Twinfield uniform, Parrish was in third place at the first-mile mark. Blitzing the fast downhill on Central Street, he sprinted through Depot Square chasing Luke Page of Berlin and Mike Gilberti of Waterbury.
Fifty yards behind Parrish, Binney Mitchell let the younger runners set the early pace. Mitchell, who is the dean of Vermont’s age 50-plus runners, knew that he had two miles to try to close the gap. He caught Paul Murphy of Mendon and set his sights on Parrish. Mitchell cruised by Parrish in the final mile.
Page won the 5k run in 17:41. Gilberti was runner-up in 18:12 followed by Mitchell (18:16), Parrish (18:45), and Murphy (19:00). Parrish showed great potential as a young runner. His previous personal best 5k time was 20:00, set at the Vermont state championship cross country meet on October 30, 2021.
Jennifer Moltz of Hyde Park won the women’s division in 19:52, followed by Ellen Emers of Barre in 20:42. Moltz topped the F30-39 age group, while Emers won the F20-29 age group.
Emers graduated from Hazen Union in 2015. She competed in high school cross country for the Wildcats, with a personal best 5k time of 23:14 her senior year. Emers went on to St. Michael’s College, where she was on the cross country running and ski teams.
McKenna Knapp of Northfield (20:56), Anna Milkowski of Montpelier (21:28), and Isabella Bevins of Plainfield (21:35) rounded out the top five female finishers.
The Northfield 5k run doubled as the Vermont Senior Games 5k state championship. Tim Hogeboom and Elizabeth McCarthy won Vermont Senior Games gold medals in the men’s and women’s 70-74 age groups. The Walden couple often train in Greensboro. Their favorite loop is around Caspian Lake.
Hogeboom paced at 8:02 per mile to finish in 24:58. McCarthy averaged 9:09 per mile. She crossed the finish line in 28:23. They plan to compete in the National Senior Games next July in Pittsburgh.
The Northfield 5k debuted a new Vermont Senior Games event, the 5k Power Walk. Power walking differs from race walking, which is an Olympic sport. Power walkers keep both legs bent at the knee when moving, while the knee is kept straight in race walking. As with race walking, one foot must be in contact with the ground when power walking.
Eleven power walkers toed the starting line on Main Street in front of the Northfield Savings Bank, one of the race sponsors. Like their running counterparts, the power walkers competed for age group prizes including Darn Tough socks. The power walkers started two minutes after the race walkers.
Chris Andresen, from Adamant, moved quickly into the lead. Andresen is a veteran runner who is awaiting hip surgery. The Power Walk event provided an opportunity for him to continue competing. Andresen averaged 11:11 per mile for the 5k loop. He crossed the finish line in 34:45 to win the race and a gold medal in the M65-69 age group.
Hannah Nedzbala, 73, from Nashua, N.H., was the fastest walker in the women’s division. She finished second overall, in 36:55, and garnered a gold medal for the F70-74 age group. John Pelton, from West Rupert, was the oldest power walker. At age 83, he averaged 15:10 per mile and earned a gold medal for the M80-84 age group.
Jointly coordinated by Central Vermont Runners and the Vermont Senior Games Association, the Northfield race raised just under $3400 to support youth and senior running programs.