Jim Flint's Runners Roundup, Sports

Bolduc, Smyers, and Knutson Lead Local Runners at Berlin Pond

photo by Steve Hill
Avery Smart, from Montpelier, won the Berlin Pond Five Miler on August 17. Smart’s time of 26:41 was four seconds off the course record. Smart and Craftsbury’s Charlie Krebs will be teammates this fall on the Tufts University cross country team.

BERLIN ̶ Fifty-three athletes competed in the 43rd annual Berlin Pond Five Miler on August 17. The contest started pleasantly cool with temperatures in the high 60s F.

A light southerly headwind gently whisked away sweat as runners climbed up Brookfield Road on the west side of the pond. Bearing left on Mirror Lake Road, the throng descended steeply to the water station at 2.5 miles, then turned north on Paine Turnpike for the last half of the race.

Halfway between a 5k and a 10k race, the Berlin Pond course is psychologically and physically challenging. Heart rates rise quickly on the initial climb to the high point of the course. Runners shift quickly from glute muscles to quad muscles on the three-quarter mile downhill. The dirt road along the east side of the pond is long and straight. The seemingly endless stretch tests each athlete’s ability to persevere to the finish line.

Avery Smart graduated from Montpelier High School last spring. As a senior, he captured the Vermont D-II individual state championship in cross country. Before the 2022 season started, he won the 2022 Berlin Pond race in 27:08. Smart, 18, returned to Berlin Pond for a shot at the 26:37 course record set in 2014 by Dan Grosvenor of Cabot.

photo by Jim Flint
Sarah Knutson (left), from Plainfield, and Elizabeth McCarthy (right), from Walden, went the distance in the Berlin Pond Five Miler. Knutson topped the nonbinary division. McCarthy won the F70-79 age group.

The Berlin Pond hills were no contest for the fleet-footed Smart. He won the race in 26:41, just four seconds off the record. Waterbury’s Mike Gilberti, 31, was the runner-up in 31:42. Smart is headed on to Tufts University, in Medford, Mass. He will join Saint Johnsbury Academy grad Charlie Krebs, from Craftsbury, on the Jumbos’ cross country team.

Justin MaGill, 21, placed third in 32:35. MaGill, from Moretown, competes in cross country for Norwich University. Luke Miller, 28, from Montpelier, and Peter Maurais, 35, from Barre, rounded out the top five finishers. Their times were 33:05 and 33:54.

Anna Milkowski, 48, from Stowe, won the women’s division. She cruised the rolling course in 35:51. Addie Hedges, 21, from Montpelier, finished in 36:20 for runner-up honors. Montpelier’s Anne Treadwell, 55, placed third in 38:28 for the women.

Adamant’s Donna Smyers, 65, was the fourth female finisher. Smyers won the F60-69 age group in 41:33. Elizabeth McCarthy, 70, of Walden, paced at 9:54 per mile to win the F70-79 age group. McCarthy crossed the finish line in 49:26.

Sarah Knutson, 61, from Plainfield, topped the nonbinary division with a time of 50:44. Knutson received a fresh-baked loaf of Red Hen bread for her winning effort.

Damian Bolduc, 46, from Craftsbury, was the fastest of the five runners from towns covered by the Hardwick Gazette. He placed 15th overall, in 36:38, and second in the M40-49 age group. Mack Gardner-Morse, 62, from Calais, finished 18th in 38:11. Gardner-Morse placed second in the M60-69 age group.

Smyers and Parker Place High in Triathlons

LAKE DUNMORE ̶ Adamant’s Donna Smyers continued her string of top performances, on August 13, with a fourth-place overall finish in the Vermont Sun Sprint Triathlon. The event included a 600-yard swim, 14.25-mile bike, and 5k run. The women’s division had 93 finishers.

Smyers, 65, was in 12th place coming out of the water. A quick transition to bike, coupled with a ride averaging 20.4 miles per hour vaulted her into the lead pack. Smyers held her own in the 5k run leg against the younger competitors. She paced at 7:58 per mile to finish the 5k leg in 24:41.

The top four women finished within 30 seconds of each other. Julia Koch, 44, from Taftsville, earned the win with a combined time of 1:19:16.9. Smyers placed fourth overall and first in the F60-69 age group. Her time was 1:19:47.4. Dot Martin, 63, from Montpelier, also had a strong finish. Martin placed 10th overall and second in F60-69. She finished in 1:22:39.2.

In the Vermont Sun Olympic Triathlon, former Sterling College student Lance Parker, from Moretown, captured first place in the men’s division. Parker, 29, faced stiff competition from Burlington’s Abraham Rogers (a former professional triathlete), Middlebury’s Kyle Friis, and Mark Snowise, from Pittsfield, Mass.

After the opening 0.9-mile swim leg, Parker was in 11th place among 47 competitors. Averaging 24.5 miles per hour, he blitzed the field on the 28-mile bike leg and went into the lead.

Parker took a mere 27 seconds to leap off his bike and into his running shoes. A flat 10k run lay ahead of him. He averaged 6:12 per mile on the way to a 38:26 final 10k run leg.

Parker’s combined time was 2:15:28.4. Rogers finished second in 2:18:43.1. Riis was third in 2:19:59.6.

Farnham and Wheeler Run Lovers Lane

CHESTER ̶ April Farnham, from Plainfield, and Ira Wheeler, from Danville, completed another epic ultramarathon on August 12. The dynamic duo ran 26 loops of a 1.75-mile course within a 12-hour time frame. The rugged course was one-third single track, one-third double track, and one-third Jeep trail. Each loop had 320 feet of elevation gain and loss.

Farnham, 56, and Wheeler, 45, kept moving and refueling during their 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. adventure on Lovers Lane. They completed 45.5 miles together to place ninth and tenth among 26 participants. Three New Hampshire runners, Keith Bourassa, Kevin Ellis, and Elisa Gardner, covered 52.5 miles to top the field in the 12-hour race.

A six-hour ultra was held concurrently on the same course. Hilary Denton, 48, from East Calais, covered 19.25 miles to place 22nd of 43 finishers. The race was Denton’s first ultramarathon.

Proceeds from the Lover’s Lane six-hour and 12-hour races went to support the Chester Recreation Department and the Turning Point Recovery Center.

All Ages Compete for Socks on September 2

NORTHFIELD ̶ The 44th annual footraces are back to kick off the Northfield Labor Day Weekend Festival. Coordinated by Central Vermont Runners, the 5k run-walk is open to ages 10 to 100. The 5k run-walk begins at 9:30 a.m., September 2, in downtown Northfield. The 5k Power Walk (ages 50 and up) begins at 9:32 a.m. The one-mile kids’ run (ages 5 to 11) follows at 10:45 a.m.

Five-year age group awards will be presented across female, male, and nonbinary divisions. Winners will receive a pair of Darn Tough Socks produced in Northfield. Runners and Power Walkers, ages 50 and up, compete in five-year age groups for Vermont Senior Games gold, silver, and bronze medals. Race information and early registration discounts are available online at cvrunners.org.

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