by Jim Flint
COVENTRY/WEST GLOVER – Fly to Pie returned Sunday to the Northeast Kingdom after a pandemic pause of four years. Sponsored by Kingdom Games, the point-to-point races featured dirt roads and spectacular fall foliage. Distances of 10 kilometers, 13.5 miles, 17 miles, and 26.2 miles were offered. The 10k race started at Irasburg Common. The other courses began at the NEK International Airport in Coventry. All four races ended at Parker Pie, where finishers enjoyed pizza, music, and refreshments.
Maxfield English, 47, from Wolcott, won the signature event: the 26.2-mile marathon. The rigorous course included 2,769 feet of elevation gain. English went the distance in 3:10:59. David Herr, 58, from Canaan took second place in 3:18:49.
Herr is a legendary marathoner and ultramarathoner. He won the 2016 Fly to Pie Marathon in 2:59:56. On May 21, 2006, Herr recorded a personal best marathon time of 2:29:40 at the Sugarloaf Marathon, in Maine.
Runners encountered a rain shower as they lined up for the start. Although the rain stopped five minutes later, on-and-off sprinkles continued throughout the races. The marathon route included five challenging climbs, capped off with a grinding four-mile uphill near the end of the race.
“The course was splendidly beautiful with the vibrant leaves and sweeping vistas,” said English. “David was shortly behind me for about 18k, then dropped back. I was alone for the vast majority, so I tried to focus on the stunning landscape while running conservatively on the climbs. The climb on the 40th kilometer was particularly hard: short and punishingly steep. I just held on for the final two kilometers. It was my first run up there and I really enjoyed it.”
Hibby Regan, 34, from Cambridge, was the fastest female marathoner. She finished in 3:55:49. Jessica Boutin, 36, from Wolcott, won the women’s division in the 17-mile race. Her time was 2:55:54. Drew Prescott, 28, from Manchester, N.H., won the 17-mile men’s division in 2:06:32.
Wolcott senior George Kominos, 67, conquered the 13.5-mile course in 1:55:16 to win the men’s division. Ashley Elliman, 37, from Andover, Mass., won the women’s division in 2:13:03.
Close Finish for Smyers At Rail Trail Run
ENFIELD/LEBANON, N.H. – Donna Smyers, from Adamant, competed Saturday at the Downriver Rail Run. The point-to-point 10k rail trail race started in Enfield and finished in Lebanon. The net-downhill course skirted the shore of Mascoma Lake, then followed the Mascoma River downstream to the finish. Fallen leaves and wet conditions made footing tricky on the course.
Smyers, 66, was still recovering after completing the Leaf Peepers Half Marathon six days before the 10k race. Running at an average pace of 8:00 per mile, she placed 46th of 169 finishers. Unbeknownst to Smyers, Karen McGowan, 66, from Medford, N.J., was trailing her as they approached the final stretch in the 6.2-mile race.
“I was not much in competition mode, more like survival mode, when a woman came up on me as we saw the six-mile sign,” said Smyers. “She said ‘mile six, let’s go!’ and I grunted something like ‘1/4 mile just trying to hold my pace.’ I had no idea she was in my age group and it never occurred to me to wonder since I was hurting already. But she looked relaxed and fresh, so even if I’d kicked with whatever was left, I’m sure she had more than I did.”
Smyers finished in 49:43. McGowan won the F60-69 age group in 49:33. Laurie Reed, 63, from Lebanon, N.H., finished in 51:14 to place third in the age group.
Alex Gottlieb, 27, from Norwich, Vt., won the 10k race in 32:41. Tivan Cassavant, 21, from Merrimack, N.H., topped the women’s division in 42:19.
Purrier Returns to Racing
NEW YORK – Six months after the birth of her first child, Elle Purrier returned to racing September 10 at the Fifth Avenue Mile. Competing in a mixed field of men and women, Purrier crossed the finish line in 4:24. She placed 35th of 8,596 entries and sixth among 4,231 women.
Purrier, 28, grew up in Montgomery, Vt. She competed in cross country, basketball, and track and field at Richford High School, graduating in 2013. She still holds the Vermont D-IV state girls track and field records in the 400, 800, 1500, and 3000-meter events.
Purrier went on to the University of New Hampshire, where she set school records and earned All American Honors in cross country, indoor track and field, and outdoor track and field. During her final indoor track season for the Wildcats, in 2018, Purrier won the NCAA women’s mile in 4:31.76.
Competing as a professional for the New Balance Team, Purrier continued to raise her performance bar. She set the American women’s indoor mile record of 4:16.85 on February 8, 2020. A year later, on February 13, 2021, she set a new American women’s two mile record of 9:10.28.
Purrier made her Olympic debut at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, held during the summer of 2021. Her time of 4:01.75 placed 10th of 13 finalists in the women’s 1500m race.
Purrier married Jamie St. Pierre in 2020. The couple operate a dairy farm in East Berkshire. They welcomed their first child, a son, Ivan Charlie St. Pierre, on March 4, 2023.
Purrier is gearing up to qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympics, held July 26 to August 11. The USA Track and Field Olympic Team Trials are on June 21-30, 2024, at the University of Oregon’s historic Hayward Field.