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Manchester City Marathon: Lee's Aguila wins 'training run'

By DOUG ALDEN
New Hampshire Union Leader

November 12. 2017 8:24PM

Manchester City Marathon winner Nick Aguila waves to a friend after winning Sunday's race. (DOUG ALDEN/Union Leader)

MANCHESTER — Nick Aguila’s “training run” turned out to be a personal best Sunday in the Manchester City Marathon.

Aguila was a late entry for the field Sunday, hoping for a solid performance and a little momentum for his final preparations for the national championship next month in California.

“I was like ‘OK, I’m just going to use this as a good, hard training effort,’” said Aguila, an assistant cross country and track coach at Southern New Hampshire University. “Halfway through I just felt so good. It was perfect weather for a fall marathon.”

Aguila, 28, ran away with the men’s title Sunday with a final time of 2 hours, 29 minutes and seven seconds, more than 10 minutes ahead of the next finisher and 35 seconds faster than his previous best he set in April at the Boston Marathon.

“I was just doing splits in my head and I was like ‘Wow, I think I’m going to PR,’” Aguila said. “Honestly, I didn’t think I could do better today.

I just went out there and had fun.”

Aguila, who lives in Lee, had plenty of support along the 26.2-mile route and at the finish, where SNHU cheerleaders lined up at the finish line to cheer on all the runners as they crossed. Members of the SNHU team were also waiting for Aguila outside the finish area in Veterans’ Park.

Aguila said SNHU senior Tyler McLaren, who will run in the NCAA Division II cross country championship Saturday in Evansville, Ind., also jogged alongside him and Matt Garfield of Wells, Maine, earlier in the race before Aguila broke away around the midway point.

“It was kind of spur of the moment. I was like I’ll just do it for my athletes and my team,” Aguila said. 

Garfield finished second with a time of 2:39:54 and Ryan Gordyan of Chicago placed third (2:46:46). 

Aguila, the first New Hampshire runner to finish the 2017 Boston Marathon, said he planned to ice down and relax before resuming his training for the California International Marathon, which doubles as the U.S. national championship, on Dec. 3 in Sacramento. He was not expecting to be coming off a personal best. 

“I’m pretty surprised myself,” he said. 

DOUG ALDEN/UNION LEADER Jennifer Zopp, the women’s division winner of Sunday’s Manchester City Marathon, chats with race director John Mortimer of Millennium Running.

Jennifer Zopp of Golden Bridge, N.Y., won the women’s field, surprising herself with her first-ever marathon victory. 

Zopp was looking for a race to help her get back on track after the Ironman World Championship last month in Hawaii. She said she was disappointed in her run performance during the grueling triathalon and wanted to “redeem herself.”

“It definitely is redemption,” Zopp said. “I came out here to just feel better and totally be with it for the whole day. Place was secondary. I just kept looking at my own pace and own time, staying within myself and not worrying about everything else.”

Zopp finished in 3:10:43, well ahead of second-place Jenny Meyer of New York (3:17:26) ...

Zopp also had a fan club waiting at the finish, where her husband, Nick, and 2-year-old daughter Hannah, helped her celebrate her inaugural marathon victory. 

“The crowds were great and the support was fantastic. This is a great town,” Zopp said. “This is my first marathon win, so I’m so excited. This is a great day. I couldn’t ask for a better day and a better race to have it at.” 

Melissa Murray, of Newfields, was the first Granite State female finisher, taking sixth among women, in 3:28.44.

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Chris Stadler, of Brighton, Mass., won the half-marathon, in 1:12.06. Jaidiby Zapata, of Milford, was the first New Hampshire finisher, in 1:14.53. Mary Klene, of Manchester, was the first women across the finish line in the half-marathon, in 1:28.11.

dalden@unionleader.com


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