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XTERRA Merrimack River trail race

Andover , MA, April 14, 2007

Run the Rivah!

by DD

Kenn Tripp cruises in
Kenn Tripp cruises in
Paul Low lead the way in the 16th running of the XTERRA Merrimack river trail race. The newly minted XTERRA race kicked off the three race New England XTERRA series. Low won a record fifth consecutive title with a 2:04 victory over CMS (Central Mass. Striders) teammate Kevin Tilton. Low and Tilton represented the USA at last years World Mountain running championship in Turkey. Low felt that the "wind was tough, so I'm happy with the way I ran". He continued calling the conditions "the second slowest I've ever run in here". He also noted that he felt "clunky, the River is usually not the first trail race of the year, but with the later date it turned out to be my first time off-road". His winning time of 57:44 is the 10th fastest and he now ties co-director Dave Dunham with four of the top ten times. Tilton's time was good enough to rank 15th fastest. Chris Mahoney representing Whirlaway took third place in 1:00:20.

Kristin Hall representing the White Mountain Milers took top honors for the women in 1:14:03, which ranks 17th all time. She led the largest women's field in five years, taking the victory by 3:47. Hall noted that she "loved the downhills...glad I didn't fall into the river". The high-level orienteer noted that the trail was not as rough as she'd like. She did enjoy the "steady stream of guys to run with". She ran an impressive negative split, hitting the 5 mile-turn in 37:50 and coming back in 36:13. This was doubly impressive on a day when the wind seemed to be in the runners faces in BOTH directions. Emma Barclay of the Portland Maine Trail Monsters took second place and Robyn Sheedy Bunker of Team Psycho took bronze in 1:19:00.

Vivian Wehner was the top women's finisher in the 00-19 age group. She finished 13th overall in 1:29:53. On the men's side fourteen year-old Ryan James of Belfast Maine was top finisher in 1:17:26.

Dan Verrington won took home the gold in the men's 40+ category for the third consecutive year. Verrington, who holds the 40+ course record, was stopped by stomach problems at 6 miles and lost the lead to teammate Dave Dunham. Verrington regained the lead at 8 miles and forged a 37 second victory. His time was the 4th fastest ever for a 40+ runner. Dunham held on to run the 6th fastest all-time in the 40+. Tod Dillon in 8th overall was third 40+ running the 11th fastest all-time. Matthew Curran of Team Gloucester was fourth 40+. Curran is only three weeks shy of his 50th birthday. His time of 1:06:19 ranks in the top 20 for 40+ and would be well under the 50+ course record.

Lisa Mikkelsen (Inov-8) took fourth place overall and captured the 40+ age group by over three minutes with her 1:20:08. Dawn Heinrich (Gate City Triad), one of the top USATF New England mountain circuit runners, took silver in 1:23:40. Their times were the fourth and 16th fastest all-time for the age group. Donna Smyth of the Cambridge Sports Union took third in the 40+.

Bob Sharkey of Team Newport was top finisher in the 50+ age group, taking the victory over Team Gloucester's Bob Gillis in 1:13:39 to 1:14:13. Their times rank 8th and 11th fastest all-time in the age group. Rick Scott running for Sugarloaf Mountain AC took third in 1:16:35.

Jeannie Frash was the women's 50+ winner in 1:34:39 (5th fastest all-time age group), followed by Linda Usher (CMS) 1:36:41 and Debora Cole (Gil's AC) 1:40:04 (7th and 9th fastest all-time respectively).

Jean Barry (GAC/GLRR) was the only finisher in the women's 60+ age group, destroying her course record from last year by over five minutes with a fine 1:53:52. The men's 60+ was taken by Vincent Rivard nearly 17 minutes of his closest competitor. Rivard (North Medford Club) ran the second fastest time ever for the 60+ (1:19:31). Kevin Rich was silver medallist in 1:36:21 and Peter Watson of the omnipresent Team Gloucester took third in 1:39:10.

Richard Busa the 77 year-old running for the Wester Mass. AC, again took top honors in the 70+ age group. Rich remains the only River finisher over the age of seventy. This was his seventh finish since turning 70.

Tom Speidel of Nutting Lake MA, continues his streak of River finishes. Tom is the only runner to complete all 16 of the races. Scott Spence (Grey Wolves) finished for the fourteenth time. Other finishers this year who rank on the "most finishes" list include:

12 finishes - Paul Comeau & Paul Funch 11 Finishes - Bob Gillis & Glenn Swanbon 10 Finishes - Richard Busa 9 Finishes - Rick Ciolino, Dave Dunham, Ben Nephew, & Rob Smith 8 Finishes - Jean Barry, Rich Blake, Dan Holmes, Thom Parker & John Parker

Thanks to all of the volunteers without whom the race would not happen. Thanks to XTERRA for selecting the River to kick off the New England series. Thank you to all of the runners for helping us raise money for the Thomas Chamberas scholarship fund.

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