by Jim Flint
MONTPELIER – The iconic July 3 Montpelier Mile race kicked off the Capital City’s annual Independence Day Celebration. The pre-parade run was sponsored by Onion River Outdoors, with support from Central Vermont Runners and volunteers.
As crowds of spectators lined State Street and Main Street, the diverse field of 240 entrants eagerly toed the starting line. Temperatures around 80 degrees F. and a light shower made for steamy conditions.
The Montpelier Mile record of 4:18.7 was set last year by Evan Thornton-Sherman of Waterford. The University of Maine rising sophomore cheered on his four brothers and his mom at this year’s race. He was saving his energy in preparation for the National U20 (under age 20) Track and Field Championships on July 6-9.
The 2019 and 2022 runner-up, Andrew Crompton, was hungry for a win. Crompton is a University of Vermont rising senior and former U-32 High School standout. In February, he ran a 4:10 indoor mile. The outdoor mile on city streets presented a different beast to slay.
Crompton faced a challenge from last year’s third-place and fourth-place finishers, Avery Smart and Andrew Thornton-Sherman. Ben Szhuaj, a 2019 Dartmouth College grad, was also at the front of the starting line. Szhuaj competed in cross country and track and field for the Big Green.
Crompton was able to outrun his rivals, crossing the finish line in 4:23.9 for the win. Thornton-Sherman edged out Szhuaj, 4:33 to 4:34, to garner runner-up honors. Smart placed fourth in 4:45. Taggart Schrader, a U-32 rising senior from Plainfield, finished seventh, in 4:59.
Amy Felice, a U-32 rising senior from Calais, picked up from where she left off in spring track and field. Felice’s mile time of 5:50.9 topped the women’s field. Charlotte Crum outpaced Olivia Serrano, 6:16 to 6:17, for runner-up honors.
Finishers from towns covered by the Gazette included three repeat age group winners. Adamant’s Donna Smyers topped the F60-69 age group in 7:41. Mack Gardner-Morse, from Calais, was the M60-69 age group winner. He skillfully navigated the crowded field to finish in 6:25. Tim Hogeboom of Walden won the M70-79 age group. His time of 7:39 outdistanced his nearest age-group competitor by two and a half minutes.
The Montpelier Mile is a classic family-friendly race. For the Thornton-Sherman family, Joel (5:09), Myles (5:28), and John (5:58) followed their brother Andrew across the finish line. Their mom, Jessica (8:51), rounded out the Thornton-Sherman family race team.
Eva Maker, from Calais, also had a notable finish. The 11-year old blazed the mile in 6:53.
Seniors Shine in City of Champions
PITTSBURGH, Penn., – Tim Hogeboom and Elizabeth McCarthy are among 79 Vermont athletes competing in the National Senior Games, July 7 to July 18. The Walden couple signed up for the 5k and 10k road races, along with track and field. They hit a speed bump in mid-June, when McCarthy came down with COVID-19 and broke a toe. After responding well to initial treatment, McCarthy experienced a rebound of the virus, accompanied by fatigue. The avid athletes remained optimistic that McCarthy would feel better in time for the national competition. By July 3, her energy level was starting to return to normal. They drove to Pittsburgh on July 5 and July 6.
The 10k road race was held on July 7, at 7 a.m. Weather conditions were less than ideal, with the temperature around 80 degrees F. and high humidity. While Hogeboom raced the 10k, McCarthy did some practice running to regain confidence after her three-week COVID pause.
Hogeboom started conservatively according to his race plan. He conquered the gently rolling course at North Park, finishing the 10k in 52:35. His effort earned a 6th-place ribbon among 19 entries in the M70-74 age group.
On July 9, Hogeboom toed the starting line again at 7 a.m, for the 5k road race. McCarthy was ready to race and test her fitness level after COVID. The weather was five degrees cooler than for the 10k race, but still with high humidity. The daunting 5k course had 260 feet of elevation gain, including a three-quarter-mile uphill to start the race.
McCarthy ran with resilience, surprising herself with a tenth-place F70-74 finish, among 22 entries in her age group. Her time was 31:07.
Hogeboom made the podium again. His 25:49 effort garnered an eighth-place finish in the M70-74 age group, among 29 entries.
McCarthy and Hogeboom are staying in Pittsburgh this week to compete in track and field events.
Swamp Run is Swampy
MIDDLESEX– The 45th annual Bear Swamp Race had 42 finishers, the same count as last year. Sebastian McCabe, from Fairfax, won handily in 34:24. Seth Jackson placed second in 35:55. Dylan Broderick, from Montpelier, was the first female finisher in 41:30. Anna Milkowski garnered runner-up honors in 42:49. Broderick and Milkowski placed fifth and seventh overall.
The infamous Bear Swamp course climbs 450 feet over the first two miles, rolls through a swamp on a class four road, then descends along tree-lined dirt roads to the finish. The final three-quarters of a mile includes a screaming 250-foot descent.
Mack Gardner-Morse, from Calais, and Donna Smyers, from Adamant, were the top finishers hailing from towns covered by the Gazette. They also won their respective 60-69 age groups. Gardner-Morse placed eighth overall in 43:42. Smyers finished 14th in 48:04. Manny Sainz, from Marshfield, was the 30th finisher, in 60:13.
“Bear Swamp was swampy!” said Gardner-Morse. “There were several big puddles to navigate around from the recent rains. The hill is always tough.”
“The race felt hard compared to what I remember Bear Swamp being like,” said Smyers. “Every year gets so much slower! I like getting out with everyone and participating.”
Thornton-Sherman Wins Bronze Medal
EUGENE, Ore. – Representing the University of Maine, Evan Thornton-Sherman competed in three races, July 7-9, at the USATF U20 Outdoor Track and Field Championships. On July 7, he ran in Heat 2 of the 1500m preliminaries. Of the 22 entries in the two heats, the 12 fastest finishers qualified for the 1500m finals on July 9. Thornton-Sherman won Heat 2 in 3:50.43. Reinhardt Harrison, from the University of Oregon, won Heat 1 in 3:51.90.
Thornton-Sherman raced in the 1500m finals on July 9. He led the pack of 12 finalists through the first 1200 meters of the race. With 250 meters to go, Harrison made a move on the back stretch. Passing Thornton-Sherman, Harrison cruised to victory in 3:48.30. The next three runners battled for the silver and bronze medals. Tayson Ecohawk (3:50.28) edged out Thornton-Sherman (3:50.57) and Marcus Reilly (3:51.10) to win the silver medal. Thornton-Sherman brought home the bronze medal.
A little over an hour after finishing the 1500m race, Thornton-Sherman was back on the track for the 5000m run. Andrew Rogers, from the University of Missouri, captured the gold medal in 14:57.55. Thornton-Sherman placed eighth of 14 finalists. He finished in 15:33.22.
Thornton-Sherman was pleased that his former high school coach at St. Johnsbury Academy, Chip Langmaid, was able to attend the national championships.