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December 22. 2012 9:53PM

Andy Schachat's On the Run: Time to hand out 'Best Of' awards


So, we have come to the end of another year of running and racing, which means it is time for my "Best Of" awards. First, a few thank yous. Thank you to all the runners, race directors, sponsors, town officials, timing companies, spectators, etc, etc, etc. It was another great year for the local running and triathlon community and one we can all be very proud of.

Before I announce my first winners, Male and Female Runners of the Year, a word of explanation about those categories. The award is for performances at local races, New Hampshire and races just across the border. It also recognizes consistency, meaning one or two real fast races might not be enough. With that in mind:

MALE RUNNER OF THE YEAR: Dan Hocking, Dover. Hocking won a number of races, particularly in the town of Plymouth, and brought tremendous pride to New Hampshire when he won the New England 5K Championship at a race in Lowell, Mass.

FEMALE RUNNER OF THE YEAR: Denise Sandahl, Rochester. Sandahl had one of the most dominant years in history. Numerous wins, many of the them at major races, included the Great Bay and Big Lake Half Marathon, Market Square Day 10K, and Runner's Alley/Red Hook 5K. When she wasn't winning major events she was finishing in the top three.

MALE MASTERS RUNNER OF THE YEAR (40 years old and over): Scott Clark, Gilmanton. In contrast to Sandahl's domination this was a very difficult category to chose from. Numerous master's runners had strong years. What set Clark apart was finishing first in the Capital Area Race Series.

FEMALE MASTERS RUNNER OF THE YEAR- Christin Doneski, Hopkinton. A few wins and top three finishes, overall and in her age category, helped Doneski win this award. What sealed it was being the top New Hampshire female at this year's Boston Marathon.

MALE TRIATHLETE OF THE YEAR: Mark Miller, Keene. Miller has been one of the premier runners in New Hampshire who took to triathlons the past couple of years. He was not necessarily the fastest triathlete in the state but he won more local races than anyone.

FEMALE TRIATHLETE OF THE YEAR: Amber Ferreira, Concord. Amber is a national ranked triathlete who dominates on the local scene. She not only outperforms her colleagues at triathlons but is one of the top finishers at local road races.

COUPLE OF THE YEAR: Dan and Lesley Hocking, Dover. Lesley joined Dan at the winner's circle of a number of New Hampshire races. Had it not been for Sandahl's strong year Lesley would have been a candidate for runner of the year.

PERFORMANCE OF THE YEAR: Mike Thompson, Margarita Mile. The night before the Black Fly Triathlon Festival in Waterville Valley a small group of folks gathered for a one-mile event. Thompson outshone the rest and kicked off one of the great weekends on the New Hampshire schedule.

RACE DIRECTOR OF THE YEAR (tie): The LOCO Sports group and the Millennium Running group.

Led by Mike St. Laurent the LOCO Sports folks did amazing thing in the Seacoast, including putting on a one day event, Smuttynose Rockfest, that set a New Hampshire record for both the largest half marathon and marathon. In the Manchester area Millennium Running produced major races like the Shamrock Shuffle and Santa Claus Shuffle. LOCO Sports concentrated on longer races while Millennium Running focused on shorter distances. There was no way to determine which group was better.

RACE OF THE YEAR: Mount Washington Road Race. New Hampshire's oldest and most prestigious race served as the USA Track and Field National Mountain Championship in 2012. Being a national championship event separated Mount Washington from all other events in 2012.

NEW RACE OF THE YEAR: Ribfest, Merrimack. On Father's Day hundreds gathered at the Anheuser Busch grounds to run or walk five miles. After the race folks stuck around for an afternoon of ribs, drink, and music. The weather cooperated and the result was a spectacular day.

POST-RACE FEAST OF THE YEAR: Rock N Roll 5K, Concord. Folks, it isn't even close. This race's ability to serve thousands is hall of fame stuff. Put it this way. Two hours after the start of the race anyone who is still hungry can help himself/herself to chicken, burgers, steak tips, and a variety of liquid refreshments.

T-SHIRT OF THE YEAR: Pumpkinman Triathlon Festival, South Berwick, Maine. Different color T-shirts for men or women with a unique design set this one apart.

PERSON OF THE YEAR (given to the person who did the most for the sport): Tom Raffio. The CEO of Northeast Delta Dental was the driving force behind NEDD's numerous sponsorships of races. It is also worth noting that Raffio completed over 80 races in 2012.

- - - - - - -

RUNNING SHORTS: If you ran the Millennium Series in 2012 and qualified for a souvenir jacket you can pick up the jacket this Thursday night at the Social 24 Restaurant in Manchester from 7-10 p.m. ... Speaking of Millennium, the Millennium Mile takes place on Jan. 1 in Londonderry. ... Congrats to winners of races that were held on Dec. 8: Greg Hammett and Colleen Campbell at the Jingle Bell 5K in Concord, Connor Jennings and Abby Wood at the Frozen 5K in Laconia, and Michael Day and Rachel Gallant at the Toys For Tots in Merrimack.

Andy Schachat's column appears every other week in the New Hampshire Sunday News. Email him at

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