Miller PRs to Grab First for Men, Westerling Repeats for the Women in a Windy Dunkin' Donuts Cape Cod Marathon
The GBTC Mixed Up Fish Captures the Sovereign Bank Marathon Relay Title
Nasty Storm on Day Before Puts Race in Doubt; Town of Falmouth Comes to Rescue!
"Windy" was the first word out of the victor's mouths as they crossed the finish line before a field of 1200 marathoners and 180 relay teams in the 29th Dunkin' Donuts Cape Cod Marathon and 14th Sovereign Bank Marathon Relay. Shad Miller had a personal best time of 2:28:14 to top a strong men's field, and Heidi Westerling easily repeated last year's victory with a 2:47:32. Hand cyclist John McArdle won his division with a 2:10:00.
Miller, 28, from Providence, RI was followed by Kevin Gray, 28, of Roslindale, MA, who also bested his previous PR with a 2:29:42, and David Bedoya, 29, of Somerville, MA, who ran a 2:30:16. Miller ran with Gray until about mile 22, but was then able to pull away despite his feet being "bruised and falling apart" from the 20 mile mark on. He credits his success to six months of hard training broken only by one week for a honeymoon in Iceland in August. Gray pointed out that his rival, Miller, ran "a great race," but said he was quite happy with his own. He said, "The last few miles along the beach were crazy, the wind at your back, pushing you along faster than you wanted to go." Gray's parents live in Falmouth so he was familiar with the course.
Heidi Westerling, 24, from Narragansett, RI, said she "felt really good" the whole race and thinks the "course is great," but she was a little disappointed that the day was "so windy". She ran the first 20 miles with two teammates from the Boston Athletic Association, working well together, as they were good on the uphills and she could pull the group down the hills. Her family provided enthusiastic vocal support at several points along the route. She has won three of four marathons since her first victory in her first marathon last year on the CCM course. Her next goal is to lower her PR of 2:44, which is good enough for a "B" standard to qualify for the women's Olympic trials under the "A" standard of 2:39. She was followed by Barbara McManus, 38 of Oakham, MA, who said, "It was brutal out there, I was really blown around," but managed a 3:03:53 for her second CCM finish after dropping out three other tries. Her parents also have a house in Falmouth and she said she was "determined to conquer this course." She also had high praise for the woman's champion for running so well on a tough day. Debbie Barry, 41 of Ashby, MA took third and first for Master's woman in a 3:05:30.
John McArdle, 40, from Montpelier, VT pushed his hand cycle in a fast 2:10:00 around the course. He said he "ate a lot of sand" in the stretches along the beach and he "felt like he was driving a Mac truck" on some of the uphill stretches, but he had nothing but praise for the course, the race organizers and volunteers.
In the men's Master's race George Luke, 40, from Clinton, CT ran a 2:33:24 for first (and sixth overall male), Mark Reeder, 47, from Brighton, MA took second in a time of 2:37:44 (and seventh overall male), and Jason Cakouros, 41 of Milton, MA took third (and eighth overall male) in 2:38:40.
The women's Master's race was won by Debbie Barry, 41, of Ashby, MA in a 3:04:36, good for third place female overall). Second place was Delwyn Williamson, 44 of Boston, MA, who ran 3:08:43 (good for fourth female overall), and third place went to Patricia Dalconzo, 43, of Harvard, MA in 3:14:46 (good for seventh female overall).
The Greater Boston Track Club took the mixed and women's titles in the Sovereign Bank Marathon Relay, honoring their former teammate and a former Falmouth High School track and cross country star Margaret Bradley, who died in a training run two years ago. Both teams were hosted overnight in Falmouth by Margaret's parents. The mixed team, the GBTC Mixed Up Fish of Cambridge, MA, clocked a 2:34:59, to be the first relay team across the line, while the women's team, the GBTC Margaret Bradley Fish of Brookline, MA finished in 2:49:31. The Jumbo's from West Lebanon, NH captured the men's relay title in a 2:57:31.
Top Cape and Island finishers for the men were Benjamin S. Parsons, 28, of Sagamore Beach, who ran 3:11:40, Robert Smith, 40, of North Falmouth (3:13:06), and Eric Nelson, 45, of Sandwich, (3:21:28). The first Cape and Islands woman finisher was also from Sagamore Beach -- Nancy Porter, 24, who ran 3:16:41. She was followed by two women from Martha's Vineyard -- Amanda Glazier, 23, of Oak Bluffs (3:37:58) and Bonnie Kingsbury, 28, of Vineyard Haven (3:42:37).
And Here's the Rest of the Story!
But the accomplishments of the runners that day only tell part of the story of the 2006 Cape Cod Marathon.
Courtney Bird thought he had seen it all in the 24 years he's directed the CCM -- a 12" snowfall three days before the race in 1987, 40 mph headwinds along Surf Drive that sandblasted the runners in the last two miles of the course in '88, a course that was obliterated on Surf Drive as a result of Hurricane Bob in '91, a driving rain and 38-degree temperatures in '92, several times when torrential rains and high winds on the Saturday before the race gave way to cloudless skies and ideal running conditions on Sunday. But this year was the first in the CCM's 29-year history that there was the possibility the race would have to be cancelled or the course somehow rerouted.
A furious Sou'easter began building in intensity during the late morning and early afternoon on the Saturday before the race. By 3:00 p.m., the rain was falling at the rate of an inch an hour, and the winds were blowing from the southeast at 35 to 40 mph and increasing. The worst of the storm was forecast to hit Falmouth around 6:00 p.m., right at high tide. Bird decided to check things out along the course. The corner of Clinton and Scranton avenues was flooded with two feet of water (just past the one-mile mark on the race course). He managed to get his four-wheel drive truck through the pond and headed toward Surf Drive. But when he got to Shore Street, his way was bocked by a police cruiser. Surf Drive was closed and flooded. He turned around to check the shore roads from Falmouth Heights on east. Once again, his way was blocked by a police cruiser. It was the same story.
What to do? The forecast called for the rain to stop around 8:00 p.m. and for the wind to shift to the west but continue to blow hard (50 mph gusts were called for) all night long and all day Sunday. But what shape would the roads be in? Would the high seas coupled with the wind and tides wash out the roads along the shore as had happened with Hurricane Bob? Would the traditional low spots on Grand Avenue, Menauhant Road and Surf Drive (remember the deep puddles on Surf Drive the year it rained so hard in the '99 Falmouth Road Race?) make it impassible for the runners to get through? What about downed power lines? In the interests of public safety, would the Falmouth Police and the DPW even allow the race to go over those stretches of road? And if not, what was "Plan B"?
"Let's go to the Quarterdeck and consult with the Grand Guru of Running, Tommy Leonard!" was one suggestion. In fact, Bird called a strategy meeting of key members of the marathon committee to be held at the QD, which was the site of a pre-race reception. Bird called Falmouth Police Chief, David Cusilito, around 4:00 to get his take on the situation. Chief Cusilito's question to Bird was, "You don't really want to cancel the race, do you?" "Absolutely not!" was Bird's reply. It was agreed that the two men would tour the critical areas of the course at 8:00 p.m. to assess the situation.
In the meantime, retiring Start/Finish Area Director Ed Giordano had been in touch with Don Swire of the DPW and gotten his assurances that if the weather permitted and the roads weren't too badly damaged, the the DPW would go to work on them after midnight. But all that left a big question mark. What if the roads were impassable? If only Surf Drive was out of commission, there was an alternate certified last two miles that was last used after Hurricane Bob. The route would be detoured up Elm Road, around Quonset Road, then up Locust Street, and onto Main, with a finish near the entrance to Town Hall Square. But what if Menauhant Road was washed out? Reports filtering back to the Quarterdeck, where key members of the Marathon Committee were gathering to decide on "Plan B," indicated that Menauhant Road was taking a real pounding. The committee huddled over maps of Falmouth. If the loop course was maintained, there was no way the race could avoid being routed for a time on busy Route 28. That idea was discarded because of traffic concerns and because it would be nearly impossible to accurately measure the distance. The next alternative discussed was to run the race on an out-and-back course that would take the runners in the reverse direction on the marathon route to the 13.1-mile point where they would turn around and retrace their steps to the finish. The route had the advantage of being accurately measured and being relatively traffic-free. The disadvantages were many, most centering around last minute logistics.
In the midst of that discussion, Chief Cusilito arrived around 8:00 p.m., and he and Bird went for a tour. By that time, the rain had stopped and the wind had shifted into the west, bringing relief to the battered south-facing shoreline. The real question was had the roads been washed out. During their tour, Bird pointed out to the Chief that as long as the roads were intact -- even if sections of pavement were missing -- and the runners could get through, we should not try to change the course. The first stop on the tour was Menauhant Road. Beach sand had washed across the road from the Heights ballfield all the way to the Bridge at the mouth of Great Pond, and in many places the sand had piled into two- to three-foot drifts. At several points along that stretch, there were 18"-deep puddles extending fully across the road and a half a football field in length. But the road had not washed out. However, just east of the bridge, a power line was down across the road. Chief Cusilito made it abundantly clear that he could not permit the race to go down a road where there were downed power lines. But he followed that comment up with a call to the NSTAR supervisor for the area. So with some luck, there was a reasonable chance that Menauhant Road could be made passable. Chief Cusilito and Bird now headed to Surf Drive. What they encountered was a moonscape of sand and boulders the size of basketballs littering the road from Surf Drive bath house to Oyster Pond Road. But, as was the case with Menauhaunt Road, the road surface was intact. Though there were no wash outs, two HUGE puddles effectively blocked the road. One was more than two feet deep and extended the full width of Surf Drive for more than 100 yards. The road was officially closed and police cruisers blocked access to Surf Drive from Mill Road west to Elm Road.
Around 8:30 p.m., Don Swire of the DPW called to say that he was going to have his crew out on Menauhant Road and Surf Drive beginning at 1:00 a.m. to clear the sand and make the roads passable again. He said his crew would work through the night if necessary. About the same time, the Chief got a call that NSTAR was clearing the downed power line on Menauhant Road. Things were looking up, and Bird returned to the Quarterdeck to update the committee.
By 1:00 a.m., Don Swire turned out his troops armed with road graders, bulldozers, front-end loaders, street sweepers and pumps, and they worked through the night to ensure that the roads would be safe and passable for the runners and for the townspeople. NSTAR crews arrived to clear downed power lines and restore electricity. By 5:00 a.m. the roads were open; and by the time the runners came through several hours later, the lakes had been reduced to puddles. It was a wonderful example of a community coming together, of team work, and of "can do" spirit.
"A miracle!!" is the way Courtney Bird described it.
Race morning dawned clear, very windy and quite brisk. There was even a passing sleet shower at 6:30 a.m.. As the 1050 marathoners and 180 relay teams gathered for the start, it was still unclear whether the huge puddles across Surf Drive would be pumped down in time. As of 5:30 a.m., the larger of the two was still some 10" deep. The runners were forewarned that they could get their feet wet at 25 miles, but that otherwise the course was clear.
As usual, the 30-person marathon committee and 750 volunteers did an outstanding job. As one veteran runner who has competed in hundreds of races, including several Cape Cods, under all sorts of conditions, commented, "It is easy to stage a good race on a good day, but the real test of a race organization is to stage a great race in adverse conditions -- and you guys certainly proved yourselves!!"
The CCM was once again the USATF New England marathon championship for the 19th time in 20 years. A total of 972 marathoners and 168 relay teams completed the 26.2 mile journey on a blustery day that featured wind gusts that topped 60 mph -- stong enough to, in one instance, blow over a porta john with a runner in it! Temperatures never climbed out of the low 50's. Yet despite the conditions, 28% of the finishers who had previously run a marathon set PR's.