Unlike last year when the races followed 16 inches of rain, this year’s weather was some of the finest New England has to offer in the fall. It was a beautiful day to be out in Groton’s Town Forest, and 202 runners took advantage of it.
Winner of the 9.5 mile race was 29-year old Greg Hammett of Chesterfield, NH. Greg’s time of 57:36 bested his winning time of last year by 2:32, but it still found him 24 seconds shy of the course record set by David Hinga in 1999. Leigh Schmitt of Conway, NH set a new 30-39 age group record with his second place finish of 59:24. The first woman runner over the line was Amber Cullen of Westford, MA, in a time of 1:13:48. Jean Barry of Lynn, MA set a new 60-69 age group record of 1:48:22, taking almost 10 minutes off the previous record.
In the 3.4 mile race, in a sizzling time of 19:38, 44-year old Rich Marion of Templeton, MA was the winner and is the new course record holder, besting John LaChance’s 2004 time by 1:21. The women were led by Emily Todd of Chesterfield, NH, in a time of 27:15. With a time of 31:43, 7-year old Taryn Manna of Shirley, MA bested her own 5-9 age group record by 3:29.
More than 16 inches of rain in Groton, in one week, raised the Squannacook and Nashua Rivers more than 4 feet and completely covered the trails in the Town Forest on the weekend before the races. The trails reappeared by midweek but then another 1.3 inches of rain fell the night before the races, and water was all over the course when it was marked in the morning. Just 3 hours later, however, the runners found an essentially dry course except for the first and last quarter miles of the 3.4 mile race and the last quarter mile of the 9.5 mile race. For many, the small lakes they fjorded were highlights of the race! The light drizzle in the air and cool temperatures made for excellent running conditions, which was very much appreciated by the volunteers since the forecast had been for more heavy rain.
While the third fastest time ever recorded for the 9.5 mile race, 1:00:08, was achieved by Greg Hammett of Chesterfield, NH, no age group records were set in this race this year. Same was true for the 3.4 mile race for the men and boys, but the girls and women were something else! Four age-group records were broken, including a 5-9 group time of 35:12 by 6-year old Taryn Manna of Shirley, MA; a 20-29 group time of 24:05 by Jenn VanDongen of Hopkinton (first female finisher), MA; a 30-39 group time of 27:05 by Kirsta Davey of Groton, MA; and a 60-69 group time of 34:23 by Marion Yuille of Westport, MA. Marion broke her age-group record by 7:47!
The first female in the 9.5 mile race was Heidi Havron of Merrimack, NH, in a time of 1:16:19. The top male finisher in the 3.4 mile race was 17-year old Brendan McCarthy of Groton, MA, in a time of 22:13.
In another first for the Groton Town Forest Trail Races, I’m pleased to announce that veteran trail runner Paul Young and Emily Trespas of Andover, MA got engaged on the morning of the race! They ran the 9.5 mile race together in a time of 1:28:27. I wish for them to have many more miles together.