Hardwick Runner Handles Half Marathon Hills
by Jim Flint
ADAMANT – Bright blue skies with light puffy clouds made for a picture-perfect race at the Adamant Half Marathon on May 7. A field of 57 half marathoners and seven two-person relay teams completed the scenic figure-eight course designed by race director Donna Smyers.
Sponsored by Central Vermont Runners, the race started and finished in Adamant Village, elevation 1129 feet. The first three miles and the last two miles were mostly downhill. In between, the athletes faced a roller coaster set of ascents and descents, culminating at the eleven-mile mark, elevation 1,327 feet. The total elevation gain for the race was a hefty 1,302 feet.
Ira O’Meara-Costello, 40, from Hardwick conquered the hills and valleys to win the half marathon in 1:32:40. He took 16 seconds off the previous M40-49 age group record set in 2021 by Gabriel McGann. Essex Junction’s Richard Gallagher, 43, finished a distant second, in 1:36:35. Jason Mazurowski, 35, from Woodbury, placed third in 1:37:39.
For O’Meara-Costello, a trail runner and ultra marathoner, the half marathon road race was a new experience. Quickly moving to the front, he was on his own by four miles into the race.
“I was pretty tired after a couple days of climbing, so I almost didn’t even go, but I decided to just think of it as a fun run, not put any pressure on myself and enjoy the run,” said O’Meara-Costello.
“Living in Hardwick, I start every run with a big hill, so I wasn’t too intimidated by that. I just kept my pace to what I thought I could sustain, managed to not look over my shoulder, stayed in the zone, and let my legs flow. The first-place finisher’s award was a loaf of bread, which was delicious!”
Montpelier runners Kristen Munson, 42, and Anna Milkowski, 48, topped the women’s field. Munson finished in 1:40:25. Milkowski, who ran the Boston Marathon on April 17, crossed the finish line in Adamant Village in 1:49:06. Mariana Wingood, 36, from Waterbury, took third among the women. Her time was 1:49:26.
Tim Hogeboom, 71, and Elizabeth McCarthy, 70, continued their string of top finishes in the 70-79 men’s and women’s age groups. The race was the second half marathon of the year for the Walden couple. Hogeboom placed 18th overall, in 2:05:36. McCarthy’s time of 2:30:44 placed 45th overall.
Though my time was only 40 seconds off my time from two years ago, it was a very hard race!’” said McCarthy. “I considered it a long run, in preparation for the National Senior Games 10K race in July.”
Shortly after Hogeboom and McCarthy got out of the car, Adamant’s infamous black flies descended on them. During the race, a nice breeze kept the pesky insects at bay.
“I always forget how many hills there are,” said Hogeboom. “I labored up until I got out of breath and then walked a short distance to recover. Staying in the shade as much as possible, I managed to stay cool throughout. A smile was on my face crossing the finish line. I immediately made my way over to tables full of delicious things to eat.”
John Hackney, 77, from Montpelier, was Hogeboom’s only competitor in the M70-79 age group at Adamant. The veteran senior runner finished the 13.1-mile Adamant race in 2:13:25, a day after completing the ten-mile Genny Tenny race, from Craftsbury Village to Albany Village.
“Saturday was fun; Sunday was very hard,” said Hackney. “I feel like I did a marathon.”
Hackney, along with Matt Caldwell, 35, from Northfield, were the sole entries in the Double Dirt Challenge, jointly sponsored by Central Vermont Runners and the Craftsbury Outdoor Center. The rigorous back-to-back races covered 25 miles and more than 2,300 feet of elevation gain. The two Central Vermont Runners received hand-crafted interlocking wood-burned awards to remember their racing feat.
Richarda Erickson and Colleen Kutin took home first-place honors in the two-person relay division. Their combined time was 1:55:25. Michael Travis and Mack Gardner-Morse placed second in 1:58:14.
Gardner-Morse did the second leg (5-plus miles) of the relay, a loop he occasionally runs from his house on County Road in Calais. The loop started with a climb up a hill out of Adamant Village and ended with a downhill finish back to the Village.
“My wife Cindy was across from our house with Dolly (the miniature horse) and Minnow (almost full-grown puppy) to direct runners down the County Road,” said Gardner-Morse. “I did stop to kiss that volunteer,” he said with a smile.
Other half marathon finishers from towns covered by the Gazette included Woodbury’s Becca Waldo (1:52:11); Plainfield’s Emily Wilmers (2:06:11); Kristine Chartrand (2:16:32) and Michael Chartrand (2:16:29), from East Calais; and Michael Giammusso (1:55:56), from Adamant.