By Dan Guttenplan
---- — SALISBURY — “Bitter” was the word of the day yesterday when 1,010 runners hit the streets in Salisbury Beach to ring in 2014 in the Hangover Classic.
Temperatures settled in the low-20s for the 33rd edition of New Year’s Day 5K and 10K races that start on the Salisbury Beach boardwalk, and for most runners, finish with a beer in the Carousel Lounge. A steady headwind proved to be the major obstacle for runners, who generally came away talking about the strong winds and the slow finishing times.
Newburyport resident Scott Dowsett, a 25-year-old who works at Riverside Cycle Biking, won the 5K in 17:19.56. He opened with the lead pack for the 10K and found himself all alone at the turn when the races split onto separate courses.
“I thought I’d be under 17 (minutes), but it was cold and windy out there,” Dowsett said. “I ran under 16 (minutes) two times last year. This is the first (Hangover Classic) I’ve really been around to do.”
Amesbury’s Larry Fowle, 31, placed second in 18:02.66. Derry, N.H., resident Paul Doe, 53, was third in 18:17.87.
Perhaps the most impressive performance in the 5K came from the female champion, 18-year-old Alexa Pelletier. The Hampton, N.H., resident and 2013 Winnacunnet High graduate placed fourth overall in 18:27.74. Pelletier, who won a New Hampshire high school state cross-country championship as a senior at Winnacunnet, is now running at the University of Rhode Island.
The battle for the 10K title turned into a two-man race between Groveland’s Garry Cuneo, 28, and Westford’s Chris Mahoney, 36. The younger runner prevailed down the stretch, finishing in 33:57.12. Mahoney crossed the line in 34:04.17. Ashland’s Marc LeBlanc, 33, was third in 34:23.74.
Cuneo is in the midst of putting together as good a winter road-racing season as anyone in the area. He also won the Pentucket Pride 5K on Dec. 1.
Hampstead, N.H., resident Amy Bernard, 35, collected the women’s 10K title in 38:25.57. She outlasted Amesbury resident and Nock Middle School teacher Beth Dollas, 36, who placed second in 39:32.65. Andover’s Caroline Bjune, 31, was third in 40:32.01.
At the start of the race, there was some question as to whether the Hangover Classic tradition of runners taking a post-race plunge into the Atlantic Ocean would continue due to the below-freezing temperatures. By the end of the day, it was clear that people who choose to run in 20-degree temperatures after one of the biggest party nights of the year will also choose to run into a body of water that registered 39.0 degrees yesterday, according to SurfForecast.com.
From just about the time the first set of runners crossed the line in the 5K until the moment the last runner crossed the line in the 10K, there was a pretty consistent stream of runners taking quick dips into the Atlantic Ocean.
“I did this two years ago, and it was a lot warmer then,” said Portsmouth, N.H., resident Michael Derhammer, who wore a white robe on the beach after taking the New Year’s Day plunge.
Hangover Classic 5K results Men Place, name Hometown Age Time 1. Steve Dowsett Newburyport 25 17:19.53 2. Larry Fowle Amesbury 31 18:02.66 3. Paul Doe Derry, N.H. 54 18:16.93 4. Wes Meserve Merrimac 25 18:40.18 5. Paul Simon Gloucester 29 18:46.77 Women 1. Alexa Pelletier Hampton, N.H. 18 18:27.74 2. Ariel Vaillencourt Manchester, N.H. 15 19:22.07 3. Karen Fogg York, Maine 46 20:18.51 4. Heather Mahoney Westford 31 20:45.34 5. Kathleen Michaud Stratham, N.H. 30 20:54.00 Hangover Classic 10K results Men 1. Garry Cuneo Groveland 28 33:57.12 2. Chris Mahoney Westford 36 34:04.17 3. Marc LeBlanc Ashland 33 34:23.74 4. Aaron Ladd Lexington 30 34:36.14 5. Tim Hartmann Rye, N.H. 22 34:46.01 Women 1. Amy Bernard Hampstead, N.H. 35 38:25.57 2. Beth Dollas Amesbury 36 39:32.65 3. Caroline Bjune Andover 39 40:32.01 4. Kelly Bradbury Newburyport 46 41:41.98 5. Susannah Landreth Newburyport 45 42:14.52