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Millennium Mile draws 1,500

Union Leader Correspondent

January 01. 2015 8:18PM
Sean Hyland rejoices as he wins the Millennium Mile on Thursday in Londonderry. (April Guilmet/Union Leader Correspondent)

LONDONDERRY — Some sprinted toward the head of the pack, while others took bold strides toward their goals for the coming year. Thursday’s Millennium Mile race was all about new beginnings and the promise of 2015.

Taking first was Andover, Mass., resident Sean Hyland, 30, who buzzed down the one-mile Mammoth Road course in 4 minutes, eight seconds. Joseph St. Pierre of Manchester placed second on the downhill course from Londonderry High to Peabody Row in 4:10.

Hyland is an accomplished runner, having run the Boston Marathon last April in two hours, 37 minutes and 11 seconds.

New London resident Jennifer Mortimer, 32, was the winning female runner.

Mortimer, the wife of race organizer John Mortimer, completed the course in 4:49. Emily Cousens of New York City was a close second, coming in at 4:50 minutes, with Christine Shaw of Manchester placing third at 4:52.

The maiden Millennium Mile took place in late December 1999, when John Mortimer, owner of Millennium Running, LLC, organized the event to celebrate the new millennium.

Andy Schachat, who emceed Thursday’s race, said about 1,500 people ran the race.

Blind since age 22, Nashua resident Randy Pierce, now 48, said he was working toward a personal goal of running his first Millennium Mile. Pierce, who completed the course in just over six minutes, ran alongside his longtime friend. Rob Webber.

Webber, a native of Londonderry, has known Pierce for 28 years, their friendship dating back to their college days at University of New Hampshire.

“I’m the guide for the day,” Webber said. “For me, a mile or two is a good distance.”

Afflicted by a neurological condition in the 1989, Pierce has overcome many challenges over the past two decades.

Last January, his beloved guide dog “The Mighty Quinn” died at age 9. The Labrador retriever suffered from bone cancer in his final years.

Pierce, already an avid mountain climber, said he started distance running in memory of his constant canine companion.

This past March, Pierce and his wife, Tracy, welcomed a new guide dog, Autumn, into their home Autumn, a rare black-and-tan colored Labrador, is still learning the ropes and sat out Thursday’s race, though Pierce said he’s hoping his new guide dog will be trained and ready to join him when, later this year, he will line up for his first Boston Marathon.

“I can’t think of a better way to honor Quinn,” he added.

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