ON SATURDAY, May 12, Dover's Scott Rowe won the Big Lake Half Marathon in Alton. It was Rowe's third consecutive and sixth win in the last eight years at Big Lake. It made me wonder, what other New Hampshire races have seen one runner dominate like Rowe has at Big Lake? A little research and I came up with a list. It is by no means an all-inclusive list, just a list of runners and races that have stood out.
Mike and Cathy O'Brien at the Children's Museum 5K: The O'Briens are probably the greatest husband/wife combo in New Hampshire running history. She is a two-time Olympic marathoner and he is a New England Grand Prix champion. From the mid-1990s to the mid-2000s, the O'Briens won a ton of races but the Children's Museum race, which was in Portsmouth during that time (now a Dover event) is where the couple stood out. From 2000 to 2002 Mike and Cathy both won the race, Mike won it 2004 and Cathy took first place in 2005. That's a combined 8 wins in a 5 year stretch.
There was a reason the O'Briens ran well at the Children's Museum 5K. The winner got ten free lobsters so, yes, that meant 20 lobsters for the couple for three straight years. As Mike once said, it was a prize they wouldn't have bought for themselves.
Eric Morse, Great Island 5K: About 10-to-12 years ago Eric Morse of Berlin, Vt., was one of New England's top runners. For four straight years, 1999-2002, Morse traveled from the Green Mountain State to New Hampshire's Seacoast and won the Great Island 5K in New Castle. Morse was so dominant that in two of those wins he finished under 15 minutes.
Sue LaChance, Applefest Half Marathon: The Applefest Half Marathon, which takes place in the fall in Hollis, is one of New Hampshire's oldest and more popular races and it draws a very competitive field each year. That's what was so impressive about LaChance's string of five straight wins from 19989 to 2002.
Mark Miller and Heidi Westover, Pemi Youth/Covered Bridges 5K: There is a 5K in Plymouth that takes place on Labor Day weekend. It has undergone different names and management but whomever owned it, it didn't matter to Miller and Westover. The race started in 2006 and for the first three years Miller was top male and Westover was top female.
Mary Proulx, Gilmanton 5K: The Gilmanton 5K has been an unofficial season opener for a lot of Granite State runners, a race that is held in late March. From 2004 to 2007, Proulx got her season off to a good start with four straight wins on the women's side. It is worth noting that she is now Mary Miller, Mark Miller's wife.
Wilson Perez, Lamprey Healthcare 5K: Perez went to Newmarket High School so it was fitting that he would run this Newmarket race during the town's Old Home Days weekend. During a six year stretch, from 1999 to 2004, Perez finished first four times, then came back in 2007 and won again.
Mary Garrity, UNH Homecoming 5K: The name of the race explains why Garrity returns to this event year after year. A UNH alumnus, Garrity has won the event five of the last six years and is currently on a three-year win streak.
Bob Hodge and Anna Pirchtova, Mount Washington: Do you know how hard it is to run well year after year at Mount Washington? If the challenge of that tough race doesn't do a runner in, the stiff competition will. That's why Hodge and Pirchtova's accomplishments are probably the greatest of any runner who has dominated a race. Hodge is the only seven-time winner of Mount Washington and won five straight years, 1976-1980. Pirchtova won six times in seven year, 2001-2007.
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RUNNING SHORTS: While Rowe was winning the men's race at Big Lake, Rochester's Denise Sandahl was first for the women. Sandahl is a former UNH runner who took time off to raise a family. She is coming back strong in 2012 and already has three wins, two at the half marathon distance (she won the Great Bay half in April). The New England Grand Prix series invaded New Hampshire on May 19 at the Bedford Rotary 12K. Kevin Johnson of Hanover and Emily Kroshus of Boston, were the winners. ... Looking ahead, an interesting event takes place at Gunstock Mountain on June 2. It is an obstacle course 5K called the Mad Dog Fitness Challenge. Gotta love a race that claims it is the toughest 5K you will ever run. Also on June 2 there is the 10th Annual St. Patrick 5K Road Race in Pelham.
Andy Schachat writes about running for the New Hampshire Sunday News. You can contact Andy at firstname.lastname@example.org.