Fast Times at Fallen Leaves

photo by Diane Kelley
Former Sterling College student Lance Parker competed in the Ironman 70.3 World Championship on October 29 in Utah. Parker is shown in the final leg of the triathlon, midway through the half marathon.

MONTPELIER — Unseasonably mild temperatures marked the return of the Fallen Leaves Race Series Saturday morning. After warming up on the Montpelier High School track, the 43-runner field moved to the line for the 9 a.m. start of the out-and-back race on the bike path.

Andrew Mongiat, a 2019 graduate of Assumption College, won the 5k race in 16:31. His time was not far off his collegiate best 5k time of 16:26. Ultramarathoner Kristen Munson was the fastest female finisher. Her 5k time was 20:29.

Ethan Parrish, from Adamant, was the top finisher from towns covered by the Hardwick Gazette. Parrish, a senior cross country standout at Twinfield Union High School, blitzed the course in 18:14 to place third overall and first in the M0-19 age group. Parrish’s effort set a new personal best 5k time.

Twinfield harriers Hanna Hoelzl and Eline Paikin placed second and third respectively in the F0-19 age group. Their times were 29:30 and 30:25.

photo by Jim Flint
Twinfield high school senior Ethan Parrish placed third in the Fallen Leaves 5k Saturday at Montpelier High School. Parrish blitzed the out-and-back course on the Montpelier bike path in 18:14.

Mack Gardner-Morse, from Calais, isn’t slowing down much with age. He won the M60-69 age group in 21:15, just 10 seconds slower than last year’s effort. Gardner-Morse placed ninth.

Cathy DuPont won the F50-59 age group in 25:16. DuPont, who coaches cross country at Twinfield Union High School, brought along her sister Bess Powers. Powers won the F60-69 age group in 24:22. The sisters are from Marshfield.

Tim Hogeboom and Elizabeth McCarthy, from Walden, faced stiff competition in their age groups. Hogeboom placed third in the M70-plus age group with a time of 27:29. McCarthy finished not far behind her husband, in 28:24. She placed second in the F60-69 age group.

A week earlier, on October 29, McCarthy placed second in her age group at the Sea Witch Half Marathon in Delaware. The 69-year-old super senior paced at 10:02 per mile for 13.1 miles, finishing in 2:11:29.

The Fallen Leaves Race Series continues on November 12 and November 19 at Montpelier High School. The race entry fee is $5. Day of Race registration is from 8:15 to 8:45 a.m. Start time is 9 a.m. For more information, visit cvrunners.org.

photo by Adam Ward
Evan Thornton-Sherman of Waterford won Most Outstanding Rookie honors in men’s cross country for the America East Conference. The St. Johnsbury Academy grad placed 13th of 80 finishers in the conference meet on October 29.

Thornton-Sherman Named Rookie of the Year

KINGSVILLE, Md. – The University of Maine cross country team concluded its 2022 season at the America East Conference Championships on October 29. The Maine men placed fifth of nine teams. The Maine women finished seventh.

Alec Troxell led the Maine men with a third-place finish (24:06) in the 8K race. Former St. Johnsbury Academy standout Evan Thornton-Sherman was the second Black Bear to finish. He crossed the line in 24:47.7 to place 13th of 80 finishers.

Thornton-Sherman was the first freshman finisher at the championship meet. His performance garnered the America East Conference Most Outstanding Rookie award.

UVM freshman James Cilwik placed 44th in 26:02. Cilwik graduated from North Country Union High School, where he excelled in cross country and track and field. The University of Vermont men placed third at the conference championships.

Local Triathletes Compete at World Championships

ST. GEORGE, Utah – Two triathletes from Central Vermont competed in the Ironman 70.3 World Championships on October 28-29. Donna Smyers of Adamant, and Lance Parker of Moretown, completed the 1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike, and 13.1-mile half marathon. The Vermonters were among 6,000 participating athletes.

Smyers, 65, has competed in world championship triathlons since 1993. The Utah Ironman 70.3 was held three weeks after she won the F65-69 age group at the Ironman 140.6 World Championships in Kona, Hawaii.

Parker, 28, is a former Sterling College student. He completed his first Ironman 140.6 in Barcelona, Spain, on October 2. Parker placed 12th in the M25-29 age group and was the top American man to finish the triathlon.

To reach the Ironman 70.3 World Championship event, triathletes have to secure a slot at a qualifying event. Smyers qualified by winning her age group at the Hawaii Ironman 70.3 on June 4. Parker qualified by placing sixth in the Maine Ironman 70.3 on July 31.

Night temperatures drop quickly in the high desert of Utah. The swim leg started at 7:30 a.m., before sunrise. The air temperature was a chilly 38 degrees. The 62-degree water necessitated wet suits. After her 37:07 swim leg, Smyers was in fifth place in her age group.

Smyers relied on experience to counter the cold. “It was worth taking the time at the T1 transition, because I probably would have dropped out if I didn’t have everything I had on,” said Smyers. “I was shivering and having trouble controlling the bike some on the first 10 miles.

Smyers finally warmed up at mile 40 as she biked the climb out of Snow Canyon. “Thank goodness for hot toes and hot hands and bootie covers and mittens and all the other stuff I practice riding in,” she said.

The 56-mile bike leg had an elevation gain of 3,922 feet. Smyers finished the leg in three hours, 13 minutes, and 38 seconds, the second-fastest in her age group. A fellow F65-69 age group triathlete, Joy Rasmussen-Otterman, was faster still with a blistering 2:58:06. Rasmussen-Otterman passed Smyers after the T1 transition. By the beginning of the run leg, she had a 13 to 14-minute lead on Smyers.

Though the air temperature was still cool, the sun felt warm to Smyers. She dug deep to close the gap with her age group competitor. The half marathon course was challenging with an elevation gain of 704 feet. As the runners approached the finish line, Smyers spotted Rasmussen-Otterman straight ahead.

“The amazing thing was I didn’t actually catch her,” said Smyers. “I was giving it my all when Joy saw me on her shoulder at the final carpet. Her husband shouted “RUN!” while she was trying to ‘high-five’ him. She sprinted ahead of me on the carpet, and I thought I was second.”

Smyers did not realize that she began the triathlon slightly behind Rasmussen-Otterman. “Age groups start at a set time, but only start 10 people per 15 seconds, so the race is a time trial,” said Smyers. “It took about a half hour for somebody to tell me I’d won!”

Smyers’ time for the half marathon leg was 1:59:20, the fastest in her age group. Rasmussen-Otterman’s half marathon was second fastest at 2:13:05. Smyers edged out her rival 6:01:43 to 6:01:54 for the F65-69 age group title.

The men’s Ironman 70.3 world championship was held on October 29. Parker got off to a slow start, completing the 1.2-mile swim in 43:46. The water temperature was 61 degrees with the air temperature at 40 degrees. Coming out of the water, he ranked 348th in the M25-29 age group.

“Before the swim, I accidentally wiped GU onto the inside of my goggles,” said Parker. “I tried cleaning it a minute before the start and couldn’t. Found a pair of goggles on the ground, picked them up and swam with them. They were horribly foggy and I couldn’t see anything. I got out of the water so far behind.”

Parker crushed the bike leg in 2:25:38, moving up to 237th in his age group. He hit 50 mph on a couple of the descents and paced well on the major climbs.

Despite side stitches, he held on in the final run leg to place 245th in his age group. His half marathon time was 1:39:14. Parker finished the Ironman 70.3 triathlon in 4:56:45.

“I learned a lot,” said Parker. “I’m soaking in the fact that I need to have bad races to have great ones. I’m enjoying the post-season unstructured workouts and am excited to refocus on new goals next year.”