Records set at chilly Half at the Hamptons

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Bay State runner establishes new mark at 1:08.24

By John Stevens

Hampton Union, Tuesday, February 22, 2011

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online]
Runners brave the cold and leave the starting line at Sunday’s Half at the Hamptons' half-marathon, which started and ended at Hampton Beach.
[John Stevens courtesy photo]

HAMPTON BEACH -- Sunny skies with temperatures in the low- to mid-20s greeted a record-breaking crowd of 1,163 runners at the 4th annual Half at the Hamptons half-marathon on Sunday.

But it was the 15 mph winds out of the WNW — sometimes gusting to 35 miles per hour — that really put the pressure on the runners, even though this is billed as the flattest half-marathon in New England. The race, along with the Eastern States 20-Miler in March that traverses Route 1A from Kittery, Maine, to Salisbury, Mass., are both popular final tune-up runs for the Boston Marathon, which every year counts dozens of Seacoast runners among its entrants.

Dan Vassallo, a 25-year-old from Reading, Mass., who was fresh off a spectacular win in November's Philadelphia Marathon with a time of 2:21:28, smashed previous record-holder Joseph Ekuom's 2009 course record of 1:13:42 with a time of 1:08:24. Vassallo was almost a full seven minutes ahead of second-place finisher Michael Quintal of North Andover, Mass., who finished in 1:15:16.

"This was one of the toughest races I've ever run," said Vassallo, "especially around miles 4 and 5, but all in all I felt great out there."

Jacob Cooper, 36, of Brooklyn, N.Y., rounded out the top three in 1:16:24. The top local finisher was Thomas Gounley of Durham, who was fourth in 1:16.45). Mark Gibson of Durham (10th, 1:19.32), Kevin St. Laurent of Newmarket (16th, 1:22.59) and Aaron Jones of Portsmouth (23rd, 1:27.12) also cracked the top 25.

Three local runners earned age-group titles: Gounley (male 20-24, 1:16.45), Summer Cook of Madbury (female 30-34, 1:34.33) and Laurie Gaudreau of York, Maine (female 40-44, 1:35.13).

Vassallo is scheduled to run the New Bedford Half Marathon on March 20, but his major event is the Vermont City Marathon on May 29. "I'm aiming for a career high of 2:19 at Vermont, and I'm worried that I'm in too good a shape right now," he said. "I don't want to peak too soon."

Also breaking a record was Tammie Robie, 36, of Milford, who broke Liz Turner's 2010 record of 1:24:55 with a 1:21:38 win. Katrina Gravel of Peabody, Mass., who won the Maine Coast Half-Marathon last November, placed second in 1:24:51. She plans to run the New Bedford Half Marathon and her first marathon at Vermont City, along with her boyfriend, Vassallo.

Robie had been training to run the Houston Marathon on Jan. 30, but got sick and had to take a pass. Like many others in Sunday's race, she is tuning up to run Boston in April.

"I'm aiming for a 2:54 at Boston," she said, "and feel really good about it."

Age-group winners:

19 and under — Riverside, Conn.'s Alan Keegan (1:30:50) and Amherst's Meghan Gillis (1:41:39)

20-24 — Durham's Thomas Gounley (1:16:45) and Northampton, Mass.'s Nicole Williamson (1:35:05

25-29 — Greenfield, Mass.'s Aaron Stone (1:18:31) and Boston's Hillary Frankel (1:34:44)

30-34 — Biddeford, Maine's Jeff Cole (1:18:09) and Madbury's Summer Cook (1:34:33)

35-39 — Nashua's Tyler Brannen (1:22:45) and Clinton, N.Y.'s Kelly Nugent (1:34:12)

40-44 — Bedford's Jason Porter (1:17:42 and York, Maine's Laurie Gaudreau (1:35:13)

45-49 — Chester's Patrick Connelly (1:19:10) and Lohja's Kirsti Pokka (1:35:09)

50-54 — Sagamore, Mass.'s Bill Kole (1:27:53) and Amherst's Cathy Merra (1:33:59)

55-59 — Concord's Perry Seagroves (1:30:53) and Ft. Collins, Colo.'s Pam Tyer (1:45:23)

60-64 — Beverly, Mass.'s David Rein (1:38:04) and Bangor, Maine's Jeanne Butterfield (2:04:22)

65-69 — Biddeford, Maine's Joel Croteau (1:42:35) and Dover's Mary Ulinski (2:16:22)

70-99 — Swanton, Vt.'s Gerald Barney (2:05:15) and Westbrook, Maine's Polly Kenniston (2:21:20

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