MONTPELIER – A course change added some extra twists and turns to the 2022 Fallen Leaves Series finale on November 19. The 5k race began with two loops around the Montpelier High School track, half covered with an inch or two of snow. Most of the course was on clear pavement on the bike path and around the Department of Labor building.
Temperatures were in the upper 20s with a light breeze and bright sunshine. The event drew 35 athletes, including cross country runners from Twinfield Union High School, U-32 High School, Montpelier High School, and Montpelier Middle School. Five women and seven men completed the mostly flat course in under 22 minutes.
Charlie Kehler, from Greensboro, and Amy Felice, from Calais, entered the race a week after the New England Cross Country Championships. Kehler is a Craftsbury Academy sophomore. Felice is a junior at U-32. The runners saw an opportunity to achieve personal best 5k times at Fallen Leaves. Two 180-degree turnarounds on the course added to the challenge.
Andrew Mongiat was back in the running after easily winning the first two Fallen Leaves races, in 16:31 and 16:52. The 2019 Assumption College graduate ran a personal best 5k of 16:12 while in college. Charlie Kehler’s personal best 5k of 16:38 was set October 8, at the Ponaganset Covered Bridge Classic.
Kehler, 15, broke into the lead on the first two laps around the track, which was slippery on the shaded back side. Moving onto the bike path, he pushed the gradual uphill section to try and drop Mongiat, but could still feel him close behind. Kehler upped the pace after the second turnaround and headed for the finish line.
“With about 380 meters to go, I entered the track,” said Kehler. “The clock read 15:08 and I realized that my PR goal was within reach. I tried to push even though I was slipping like crazy. Finished with 16:29 and am super happy with my result.”
Mongiat, 25, placed a close second, in 16:43, followed by Paul Murphy, 53, in 18:22. Ethan Parrish, 17, from Adamant, placed fourth. The Twinfield senior’s time of 18:47 was 12 seconds shy of his personal best 5k at the NVAC Mountain Division Championship on October 22.
Amy Felice went into the Fallen Leaves race with a personal best 5k time of 20:00. The U-32 junior set the mark at the Vermont High School Meet of Champions on November 5. Felice had modest expectations given the cool weather and snow on the track. Knowing half the people running, she was ready for some fun and a great start to the day.
“I knew the course was wicked flat, so I had the thought of a PR in the back of my head, but kind of dismissed it when I saw ’28 degrees’ on the weather app,” said Felice. “The race was good though! I remember coming around the track and looking down at my watch when it said “19:17,” and thinking well, maybe today isn’t the day for sub-twenty. Guess the snow wasn’t as slow as I thought!”
Felice, 17, crossed the finish line in 19:54 to win the women’s division and break the 20-minute barrier for the first time. Her prize was a pumpkin pie baked by race director, Donna Smyers.
Kristen Munson, 41, and Dylan Broderick, 32, followed Felice in 20:29 and 20:35.
Mack Gardener-Morse, 61, from Calais, completed a three-week sweep of the M60-69 age group. He placed tenth overall in 21:13. During the three races, his 5k times varied by only four seconds.
Carrie Felice, 51, from Calais won the F50-59 age group in 23:12. Felice, whose daughter Amy won the women’s division, is a veteran of the 2016 New York City Marathon. “It had been years since I’d run the Fallen Leaves race, so it was nice to get out there again,” she said.
Bess Powers, 61, from Marshfield, won the F60-69 age group. She averaged 7:50 per mile to finish in 24:19. Cathy DuPont, 57, placed second in the F50-59 age group. Her time was 26:05.
DuPont, from Marshfield, coaches the Twinfield cross country team. She encouraged her team members to participate in the race. Hanna Holzl (28:36) and Eline Paikin (29:03), both from Plainfield, placed second and third in the F20-29 age group. They each set a new personal best 5k time.
“Our team likes the Fallen Leaves 5k series because it’s a great way for us to extend the season,” said DuPont. “It’s a fairly flat, fast course and there is the benefit of being able to interact with a community of runners covering a wide range of ages, a nice switch from the regular season. Up until now, the fall has been fairly mild so this was the first time our team has had to deal with running on sections of snow and ice. We appreciate Central Vermont Runners organizing and hosting this series and we look forward to participating again next year.”
Thornton-Sherman Brothers Qualify for National Championships
NORTH BERWICK, Me. – Joel Thornton-Sherman and Andrew Thornton-Sherman, from Waterford, raced Sunday at the USATF Region One Junior Olympic Cross Country Championships. The event was a qualifier for the National Junior Olympic Championships at Texas A&M University. The top five teams, by age group, and other individuals finishing in the top 30 of their region became eligible to compete at College Station, Texas, on December 10.
Joel Thornton-Sherman ran with the Granite State Flash team in the boys 13-14 age group. The St. Johnsbury middle schooler placed sixth of 95 athletes in the 4k race. His time was 14:20. He led the Granite State Flash to a third-place finish among ten teams, punching the Flash’s ticket to the national championships.
Andrew Thornton-Sherman raced with the Green Mountain Athletic Association team in the boys 15-18 age group. The St. Johnsbury Academy sophomore placed third of 67 athletes in the 5k race. His 16:49 effort led the GMAA team to a second-place finish among seven teams, helping the Vermont boys win a trip to nationals.
Local Runners Win CVR Age Group Awards
Five local athletes were among the top finishers in the Central Vermont Runners 2022 Race Series. The race series resumed this year after a pandemic pause during 2020 and 2021. The annual series includes 14 different race events. Participants are rated against other CVR members in their age group. Each participant’s best six races count for their overall point score.
Donna Smyers, from Adamant, and Mack Gardner-Morse, from Calais, were the female and male winners in the 60-69 age group. Elizabeth McCarthy, from Walden, placed second of 11 participants in the hotly contested F60-69 age group.
Smyers won her age group in seven CVR races over the course of the year. With one race dropped, the she had a perfect score of 600 points. Gardner-Morse was near perfect with five age group wins in seven races. He scored 599.1315 points to win the age group. McCarthy won three of the nine CVR races she competed in. Her 568.808 points placed second to Smyers.
Tim Hogeboom, from Walden, and Dot Helling, from Adamant, were the respective winners in the 70-79 age group. Hogeboom competed in ten of 14 races, winning his age group in eight of the ten events to score a perfect 600 points. Helling, who spent a chunk of the summer in Alaska, scored 400 points to win all four CVR races she competed in.