An estimated 2,000 runners from around the world hit the streets of Newburyport on a windy Sunday morning for the third annual Green Stride Half Marathon.
“My goal for Newburyport overall is to turn it into a prestigious race like Yankee Homecoming,” said race organizer and founder Eli Bailin. “So when you factor in big prize money that I’ve doubled this year to $1,000 (each for the male and female winner), it’s going to draw that crowd.”
An eclectic crowd ran the 13.1 miles across three towns, past Mosley Pines and Maudslay State parks, the Artichoke Reservoir and Route 1 to end up at Cashman Park for a chance to win the $1,000 top prize for the male and female fastest runners.
“We’re trying to keep it top notch,” said Bailin. “We’ve got a lot of locals and a lot of serious distance runners. People love Newburyport. It’s just the most beautiful time of the year, and it’s one of those days where we all come together for a good thing.”
Running away with one of the two $1,000 checks was Feisa Ayele Megersa, 25, of Malden, who was the first-place male and overall top finisher with a time of 1:05:12.2.
“It was a strong day,” said Megersa.
Brighton’s Renee Gosselin, 24, received a $1,000 check for taking first place for the women with a time of 1:16.25.2, followed by Lebanon, N.H., resident Andrea Walkonen, 27, who took second place women’s at 1:17.28 — good for $500.
Julius Meugua, 30, of Schenectady, N.Y., took second place male and $500 at 1:05:15.9. Nebsi Mengisto Tabot, 22, of Malden took third.
Newburyport’s Kelly Bradbury, 46, tries to run at least one race a month and trained for the Green Stride with Newburyport High School cross-country coach Don Hennigar, finishing with a time of 1:32:09.
“It’s a beautiful course,” said Bradbury. “I can leave my house a half an hour before and don’t have to worry about parking and knowing the route is very convenient.”
Eric McDonald, 23, of Groveland finished eighth overall at 1:09:20.
“I did a lot better than I expected,” said McDonald. “The toughest part was trying to battle the wind out there. The lead pack had to be a pack of five or six guys. They opened it up early, but some of them fell back and I kept reeling them in. Then they would open it back up again. But I was happy with the way they ran and the way I ran.”
McDonald’s co-worker at the Greater Boston Running Company of Andover, Tom Poland, 25, decided to run the Green Stride at the last minute and finished 10th overall at 1:13:34.
“The course is beautiful,” said Poland. “There’s great foliage and you get to run along the water for a while.”