Jim Flint's Runners Roundup, Sports

Local Bikers and Runners Excel in Race to the Top

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Mountain bikers Roger Prevot (left), from East Hardwick, and Davis Barnett, (right) from Greensboro, placed third and second, respectively, in Sunday’s Race to the Top of Mount Mansfield. Paul Hermes, from Guilford, Conn., edged out his fellow 64-year-old cyclists for the M60-69 age group victory.

STOWE – Athletes from towns covered by the Hardwick Gazette excelled at Sunday’s 15th Annual Race to the Top of Vermont. The rigorous event involved biking or running up the 4.3-mile Mount Mansfield Toll Road. A total of 288 runners and 57 mountain bikers conquered the 2,564 vertical feet climb.

A cohort of Craftsbury runners were among the fastest finishers in the Race to the Top. Green Racing Project (GRP) team members Finn Sweet and Margie Freed led the way.

Sweet, 21, finished fifth in 37:02. He won the M20-29 age group. Freed, 25, won the women’s division for the second consecutive year. She moved up from a third-place finish at last year’s race. Her time of 41:12 bested last year’s 41:41 effort.

Craftsbury’s Matt Califano and Alex Califano, 17, ran the Race to the Top for the fourth time. The twin brothers placed second and third, respectively, in the M15-19 age group. Matt’s time of 42:47 placed 29th overall. Alex finished 32nd in 43:44.

photo by Jim Flint
Ethan Parrish (center), from Adamant, placed third Saturday at the 42nd annual Great Little City 5k Race in Vergennes. Parrish is a freshman at Paul Smiths College in the Adirondacks and a member of the Bobcats cross country team. His teammates, Tyler Kirschbaum (left) and Eliot Soderholm (right), placed fourth and second, respectively, in the 5k road race.

“The race is unlike any other course I’ve ever run,” said Matt Califano. “It is gratifying to look down at the rest of Vermont’s endless mountains once you’ve reached the summit.”

Other top Craftsbury GRP finishers were Luke Brown (sixth male, 37:24), Jack Christner (14th male, 40:05), Jack Young (20th male, 40:59), Michaela Keller-Miller (fourth female, 43:16), and Quincey Massey-Bierman (13th female, 51:03).

Donna Smyers, 65, from Adamant, was the first F60-69 age group runner to reach the summit of Mount Mansfield. Her time was 55:35. Margie Prevot, 60, from East Hardwick, placed eighth of 23 entries in the age group. Her time was 1:06:16.

“It was humid, but not too hot or cool since there was minimal wind,” said Smyers. “I was happy when I passed the two women that I know in my age group at about 1.5 miles. I walked a few more times than usual, but aimed for about 10 breaths per walk, then restarted the slow run.”

photo by Jim Flint
Jean Bernaquez, 91, of Montreal, was the top male finisher in the Great Little City 5k walk division. Bernaquez plans to compete at Saturday’s Northfield 5k footrace, where he is poised to become the oldest finisher in the 44-year history of the race.

In the mountain bike division, the men’s 60-69 age group featured a close contest between three 64-year-old friends. Paul Hermes, from Guilford, Conn., crossed the finish line first in 45:27. Hermes placed tenth overall in the field of 57 bikers. Davis Barnett, from Greensboro, and Roger Prevot, from East Hardwick, were the second and third M60-69 finishers. Their respective times were 46:13 and 46:29.

“Davis moved to Greensboro last year,” said Prevot. “He is a cyclist and cross country skier. At the 1985 Hawaii Ironman Triathlon, he passed me in the final mile. We finished 69th and 70th.”

Prevot and Hermes worked together a few years ago. Hermes competes in most of the New England bicycle hill climbs, often reaching the podium. During the fall and winter, Hermes does cyclo-cross races.

photo by Jim Flint
Tim Hogeboom, from Walden, rounds the final corner at the Great Little City 15k race in Vergennes. Hogeboom was the top finisher in the M70-99 age group. He covered the hilly course in 1:26:23.

Parrish and Hogeboom Race in Great Little City

VERGENNES ̶ Two local runners converged from east and west Saturday to race in Vermont’s smallest city. Ethan Parrish, from Adamant, made the trek from Paul Smiths College in the heart of the Adirondack Mountains. Tim Hogeboom journeyed from the hills of Walden in the Northeast Kingdom.

Parrish, 18, ran four years of cross country at Twinfield Union School, graduating last spring. During his time with the Trojans, two to three boys were on the varsity team each season. Parrish made steady improvement. As a senior, he ran a personal best 5k of 18:35 at the Mountain Division Championships on the hilly St. Johnsbury Academy course.

At Paul Smiths College, Parrish is happy to be part of the Bobcats’ 25-member cross country team. He is dual majoring in disaster management and forest management. His mom, Lisa McCarthy, is principal at Woodbury Elementary and Lake View Elementary.

The Bobcat harriers traditionally kick off their racing season at the Vergennes Great Little City Races. Team members choose between the 5k, 10k, and 15k distances. Parrish was feeling unsettled when he toed the starting line for the 5k race. The butterflies in his stomach gave flight as he sprinted out of the gate behind his freshman teammate, Eliot Soderholm.

Soderholm soon found himself in a back-and-forth duel with Michael Bodnar, 31, from Westport, N.Y. After taking the lead, Soderholm missed a turn late in the race. After he realized his error and turned back, Bodnar was in front. Soderholm came within a whisker of catching Bodnar. They both finished in 17:23, with Bodnar gleaning the winner’s award.

Parrish held his own, pacing at 6:01 per mile to place third in 18:41, six seconds off his personal-best 5k time. Fellow freshman Tyler Kirschbaum was fourth in 19:11. Soderholm, Parrish, and Kirschbaum won the first, second, and third-place medals for the M20-29 age group.

Tim Hogeboom, 72, drove two hours to Vergennes. He was hungry to race again after missing the August 17 Berlin Pond Five-Miler due to a cold. With 15 minutes to spare, Hogeboom arrived in time for the 8:30 a.m. start of the 15k race.

Humidity levels were high as the runners set off on their 9.3-mile journey from Vergennes to Waltham and back. “It was so humid that my sweat wasn’t evaporating much,” said Hogeboom. “That was a recipe for overheating. I was cooked by the time I reached the finish line.”

Hogeboom found the hills to be relentless on the 15K course. He remembered the long hill on the way out of Vergennes (from having run the race in 2022), but had forgotten about the hills heading back towards town. “It seemed like every time I topped a rise, there was another one off in the distance,” he said.

Halfway through the race, the veteran senior walked for a few yards as he refueled with a chunk of banana and a few strawberries. Falling into step with a younger competitor, Hogeboom shared some uplifting words as they labored together up a long hill.

“It helped both of us to focus on something besides the strain we were expending,” said Hogeboom. “I had to summon all my willpower to keep running.”

One last short uphill remained as Hogeboom neared the finish line. Turning the final corner, he flashed his “I’m going to make it” smile. His time of 1:26:23 placed 15th of 25 finishers. Hogeboom averaged 9:16 per mile on the hilly course to win the M70-99 age group.

91-year Canadian Ready to Run at Northfield

NORTHFIELD ̶ Montreal runner Jean Bernaquez, 91, is poised to become the oldest finisher in the 44-year history of the annual Northfield footraces. Bernaquez is signed up for the Northfield 5k run-walk on Saturday, Sept. 2. Coordinated by Central Vermont Runners, the event does double duty as the Vermont Senior Games 5k state championship road race.

Bernaquez tuned up for the Northfield race by completing the Vergennes Great Little City 5k race on August 26. He won the men’s division in the 5k walk and placed fourth overall. His time was 47:28.

Bernaquez holds three of the men’s five-year age group records for the Northfield 5k. In 2007, at age 75, he set the M75-79 record of 24:14. At age 80, in 2012, he set the M80-89 record of 26:36. Five years later, in 2017, he set the M85-89 age group record of 31:21.

Setting the M90-94 age group record at Northfield is next on Bernaquez’s bucket list. His history-making 5k effort will take place at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday.

Online registration for the Northfield 5k is available through August 31 at cvrunners.org. Day of race registration is also available for the 5k and kids one-mile race. The footraces kick off the annual Northfield Labor Day Weekend Festival.

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