NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

December 3, 2013

Getting a number for Boston getting harder

On Running
Dave Dyer

---- — Anyone who hasn’t yet been granted a number for the 2014 Boston Marathon may be out of luck.

In the past, aspiring marathoners might still be able to pluck a number bib for official entry from a Boston-area running club or by joining a charity team, but both paths are all but completely blocked because of the high interest generated in next year’s race.

The Winner’s Circle Running Club is still offering seven club invitational entries for the price of the standard entry fee ($325). The Boston Athletic Association’s requirements for applicants are that they must be members of the Winner’s Circle Running Club, and must be able to run a 6-hour marathon. The Winner’s Circle’s criteria for the race includes the service to the club, participation in club events, demonstrated ability to run a marathon, and motivation to run Boston this year. The WCRC Board of Directors will make the final selections at the next board meeting on Thursday.

However, the Winner’s Circle is somewhat of an anomaly in the world of marathon bib distribution. Numbers from other local clubs are pretty much allocated, and applicants to run with charity teams have skyrocketed despite tougher standards for raising funds.

“Dream Big,” for example, has 200 applicants for 15 numbers and Team Red Cross has 190 applicants for 35 slots, compared to 75 hopefuls last year. Mass. General Hospital has 600 applicants for 100 numbers.

With the heightened interest, the minimum has increased for funds runners must raise. The Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, for example, is only considering people who commit to raise $7,500, which is up from $5,000 last year.

Last year, there were 2,000 charity runners at Boston. Officials have raised that limit to 3,000 for 2014 for an expanded field of 36,000, but it’s still extremely tough to secure a number.

Thanksgiving numbers

Nothing will approach the Feaster Five in Andover, which attracted more than 10,000 runners, but there were plenty of other popular races on Thanksgiving.

Bradford’s Pat Fullerton, who manages Newburyport’s Greater Boston Running Company, smashed the Feaster Five 5K course record, finishing in 15:08, a 4:53-per-mile pace, to win for the second straight year, crushing Harry Norton’s old mark of 15:40 set in 2007. A year ago, he just missed the mark at 15:46. Connor Habib, 20, of Hampton, N.H. finished second at 16:56, and Joshua Accomando, 28, of Coronado, Calif., was third at 17:08. In what was the race of day, the 5-mile event, two racing stars battled evenly until the last quarter-mile up York Street with Ruben Sanca of Lowell and five-time champ Nate Jenkins going head-to-head. The 26-year-old Sanca, who runs for Whirlaway Racing of Methuen, broke away from Jenkins of North Andover near the finish to win by 5 seconds at 24:19. The duo was just off the record of 24:06 set in 1999. Sanca competed in the 2012 Olympics in the 5,000-meter run, representing his native Cape Verde.

On the women’s side of the ledger, Andover’s own Alanna McDonough, 20, coasted to victory in the 5K at 19:16, besting Caitlyn Clark, 29, who finished at 19:50 and Alexandra Brillaud, 23, of North Andover, who was not far behind at 20:03. McDonough, a junior at Colby College via Governor’s Academy, led from start to finish in beating her race time last year by exactly 2 minutes.

In the 5-mile race, North Andover running sensation Kirsten Kasper, 22, competed in her first Feaster Five by running 5:36 splits over 5 miles to finish in 27:48. Kasper flirted with a 17-year-old record set by former USA racing star Lynn Jennings, who ran a 27:33 in 1996.

Leading the way was the 25th Maudslay Turkey Trot at Maudslay Park. Won by former Timberlane standout and UNH senior Lou Saviano in 16:06, it drew 1,519 runners. The nearby Wild Turkey Trot at Pipestave fields in West Newbury attracted 416 runners. Stoneham’s Gregory Putnam won that race in 17:14.

The Greater Derry Turkey Trot, meanwhile, attracted 1,248 runners and had a battle for first as former Pinkerton standout Peter Najem ran an excellent 15:58 to nip another Pinkerton grad, Kevin McMahon, by a second.

The biggest increase in runners was the North Reading 5K Turkey Trot. With North Reading High seniors Eli Spicer and Jake O’Connell finishing one-two, 1,228 runners crossed the finish line.

Record at ‘Pride’

Former Pentucket standout Alanna Poretta, a senior at Boston College, broke her own course record at the Pentucket Pride 5K Sunday, turning in a stellar 18:09, which was good for second place overall, trailing only Garry Cuneo.

Also of note in the race, which drew 183 finishers in drizzly and raw conditions, 12-year-old Connor Alessi of the Bradford Huskies was sixth overall in 19:45. Finally, iron man Bob Strout of Salisbury completed his fourth race in four days and fifth race in eight days.