WATERBURY – Sunday’s 39th Annual Leaf Peepers event drew 298 half marathoners, plus 142 runners for the concurrent 5k race. Ideal temperatures in the 50s to low 60s led to fast times. Local athletes were among the age-group winners who brought home maple syrup for their efforts.
Logan Senrud, 38, and Laura Peterson, 31, won the male and female divisions in the half marathon. Their respective times were 1:16:21 and 1:35:04. Megan Petrine, 23, topped the nonbinary division in 1:49:04.
Sterling College graduate Lance Parker, 29, placed fourth in the half marathon. Parker, who lives in Moretown, set a new personal best time of 1:21:59.
Alison Migonis, 37, won the women’s division of the 5k race. Her time was 20:12. Adron Pitman, 32, was the men’s 5k division winner, in 16:21. Noah Witke-Mele, 24, topped the nonbinary division in 29:54.
Elizabeth McCarthy, 70, won the F70-79 age group for the 5k race. The Walden senior’s time of 29:02 placed in the top one-third of 5k finishers.
Donna Smyers, 66, from Adamant, topped the F60-69 age group in the half marathon. Her time of 1:52:08 was 15 minutes ahead of the next closest age-group finisher.
Tim Hogeboom, from Walden, completed the half marathon for the third consecutive year. His 2:01:15 effort placed in the top half of all finishers and first in the M70-79 age group. Hogeboom, 72, was the second-oldest finisher. Steven Schlicting, 74, came in close behind at 2:04:07.
Michael Giammusso, 51, from Adamant, placed fifth in the M50-59 age group. His time was 1:49:08. Sara Belle Hatch, 53, from Wolcott, finished in 2:17:05. She placed 11th in the F50-59 age group.
The Leaf Peepers races were the final events in the 2023 Central Vermont Runners / Onion River Outdoors Race Series. Smyers (F60-69) and Hogeboom (M70-79) had perfect scores of 600 to win their age groups. McCarthy came from behind to win the F70-79 age group. She edged out Merrill Creagh, 587 to 580 for the race series victory.
Girard Takes on Three Mountain Race
BOLTON VALLEY ̶ Temperatures were cool for the 7:30 a.m. start at Sunday’s Bolton Valley Three Peaks Mountain Race. Conditions warmed into the 50s and 60s as the morning progressed.
Eloise Girard, from Craftsbury, was the sole entry from the 10 towns covered by the Hardwick Gazette. Girard, 41, placed 11th of 21 women (43rd of 66 overall entries). She covered the 25k (15.5 miles) course, with 4,000 feet of elevation gain, in three hours, 10 minutes, and 48 seconds.
“It went really well until mile 13, then I ran out of energy for the last two miles. It was harder than I expected. I need to work on hill repeats,” said Girard.
Matthew Zinki won the 25k race in 2:06:59. Maddy Pfeifer was the fastest female finisher. Her time was 2:28:38. Tom Dils (53:02) placed first in the 10k race. Former Craftsbury Academy track and field coach Abby Schaible was the top woman 10k finisher. Her time was 1:00:13.
Footprints Race Debuts
CRAFTSBURY ̶ Saturday’s inaugural Footprints Trail Races brought together a diverse community of runners. Hosted by the Craftsbury Outdoor Center, the event was designed to create a conversation around climate action. Local Tuesday Night Trail Series runners joined with Footprints campers for the race. Ideas generated during the week-long camp and post-race conversation are catalysts for climate action projects in the runners’ home communities.
Race distances were five-miles and ten-miles. The challenging courses started at the Outdoor Center on single track and double track trails. The final segment of each course brought runners from Town Highway 19 to Mill Village, then up the hill to Craftsbury Common.
Maxfield English, from Wolcott, found a worthy challenger in Jesse LaHaye, from Chicago. LaHaye got off to a fast start and grabbed the early lead. At the halfway point, he was 30 seconds ahead of English.
“I slowly reeled him back, turned the screws, and caught him climbing Screaming Mimi,” said English.
“After that, I just measured the climbs, and put more distance between us. The course was as challenging as it was interesting with the varied terrain.”
English won the ten-miler in 1:14:59. LaHaye garnered runner-up honors with a 1:15:51 finish. Gabriella Brinkley (1:20:34) and Relena Ribbons (1:23:06) placed first and second in the women’s division. Pete Johnson, from Craftsbury, and Sarah LaHaye, from the Footprints Running Camp, were the third male and third female finishers. Their respective times were 1:23:18 and 1:29:40.
Sisu Lange, from Lyndonville, won the men’s five-mile division in 40:47. Hallie Grossman, from Craftsbury, was the top female finisher in the five-mile contest. She placed second overall, in 42:12.
Smyers Earns Gold Medal at World Championships
PONTEVEDRA, SPAIN ̶ Donna Smyers, from Adamant, was one of eight Americans to win gold medals at the 2023 World Triathlon Age-Group Super-Sprint Distance Championships. The event included a 300-meter swim, 6-kilometer bike, and 1.6k run. Competing on September 22, Smyers placed first of 10 entries in the women’s 65-69 age group. She and her USA Triathlon teammates captured the first four places in the race. Smyers’ time was 32:43. Susan Olesky (35:31) and Sheila Cotter (35:38) were the F65-69 silver and bronze medalists.
The Super-Sprint Triathlon was a warm-up for the World Triathlon Age-Group Olympic Distance Championships on September 24. The event included a 1500-meter swim, 39.5k bike, and 10k run.
Smyers knew going into the event that the competition would be tough, especially in the opening swim leg. Challenging temperatures added to the difficulty.
“As I suspected, the fast swimmers put way too much time on me,” said Smyers. “But then my race got worse because I was so cold. The water was about 67 degrees F. The air temperature was about 55 degrees, and the sun was just coming up, so lots of shade.”
Although Smyers’ wet suit protected her body core, her feet were exposed. Coming out of the water she had to run 3/10 of a mile barefoot across a carpet and pavement to get to the bike area. She generally makes a fast transition from the swim leg to the bike leg, even with numbed feet from colder water. This time, her toes hurt as if frozen. She lost time to her competitors in the transition.
“I don’t bike as fast as usual when I’m that cold,” said Smyers. “I finally had my toes all thawed out at about four miles into the run. It was sunny and the temps were near 70 degrees by then, but it was dry air, so my heat did not last.”
Linda Russell-Bond, from Great Britain, won the Olympic Distance F65-69 age group gold medal. Her time was 2:41:30. Smyers’ time of 2:55:01 placed sixth of 20 competitors.
LYNDONVILLE / ST. JOHNSBURY ̶ The Kingdom Challenge half marathon and 5k race is coming up on Saturday, October 14. The half marathon begins at 8:30 a.m. The 5k race starts at 9:30 a.m.
The half marathon course runs from Lyndonville to St. Johnsbury. Along the way, runners climb 1,440 feet and descend 1,590 feet. Sixty percent of the course is on dirt roads. The 5k race is an out-and-back course starting and finishing at the St. Johnsbury School. Details are at thekingdomchallenge.com.