by Jim Flint
MONTPELIER – An enthusiastic field of 108 runners enjoyed unusually mild weather at the 27th annual New Year’s Eve Race. Temperatures in the low 50s made shorts and t-shirts the apparel of choice for many participants. Sponsored by Central Vermont Runners, the 5k race was the first event of the 2023 CVR/Onion River Outdoors Race Series.
Dylan Flewelling, 19, from Oakland, Maine, conquered the challenging course in 17:48 to win the 5k contest. The Colby College sophomore is an NCAA D-III athlete who competes in cross country and track and field. Waterbury Center’s George Aitken, 29, garnered runner-up honors, in 18:04.
Alicia Freese, 34, from Tunbridge, edged out Kasie Enman, 43, from Huntington, to win the women’s division. Their respective times were 18:30 and 18:57. Freese set a new F30-39 age group course record. She broke the old mark of 18:32 set by Enman in 2014.
Hazen Union cross country coach Netdahe Stoddard, 45, was the top finisher from towns covered by the Hardwick Gazette. Stoddard, from Cabot, moved up from eleventh to seventh place during the race. He won the M40-49 age group with a time of 19:20. This was his eighth time competing in the Capital City’s NYE race.
Mack Gardner-Morse, 61, of Calais, first ran the NYE race in 1995, when the race was on a flat course. The current hilly course debuted at the 1999 NYE Race. Gardner-Morse placed 34th of 154 entries that year, finishing in 21:27. Fast forward 23 years and Gardner-Morse is nearly as fast as he was in his late thirties. At the 2022 NYE race, he placed 20th. His time of 22:07 topped the M60-69 age group. Gardner-Morse finished ahead of Norm Larson, 66, who holds the NYE M60-69 age group course record of 19:43, set in 2018.
Donna Smyers, 65, from Adamant, is another veteran NYE racer. Smyers’ first NYE race was in 1996. That year she edged out Dot Martin, 20:40 to 20:48, to win the F30-39 age group. Moving ahead 26 years to the 2022 NYE Race, Smyers placed first in the F60-69 age group, in 26:28.
Walden seniors Tim Hogeboom and Elizabeth McCarthy continued their string of fast finishes. Hogeboom, 71, won the M70-79 age group in 26:47. His time was just five seconds slower than his 2021 NYE effort.
McCarthy, 70, faced tough competition from Erika Campbell, 73, of Ridgewood, N. J. Campbell set a new NYE F70-79 age group course record of 26:59. McCarthy placed second in the F70-79 age group with a time of 30:52. Her time was 16 seconds faster than last year.
Two more age group course records were set at the NYE race. Sarah Pribram, 54, from Shelburne, finished in 21:29 to top the F50-59 age group. Joel Thornton-Sherman, 13, from Waterford, finished fourth overall, in 18:24. Joel shattered his brother Evan Thornton-Sherman’s M1-13 age group course record. The old mark of 19:41 was set in 2016.
Other finishers from towns covered by the Hardwick Gazette included Xin Yang, 52, from Greensboro (28:13) and Anthony Sgherza, 61, from Cabot (30:18).
The next Central Vermont Runners event is the Millstone Madness Snowshoe Race on February 11. The three-mile contest kicks off at 10 a.m. at Millstone Hill in Barre. For more information, visit www.cvrunners.org.