, Newburyport, MA

January 2, 2013

A New Year's tradition

Runners take a dip after finishing Winner's Circle race

By Jim Sullivan

---- — SALISBURY — Just over a thousand runners braved the chilly air and warmed up in the Atlantic to welcome 2013 in the 32nd annual Winner’s Circle Running Club New Year’s Day Classic 5K and 10K races at Salisbury Beach yesterday.

“I was surprised that we had over a thousand (people) with the storm we had this weekend,” said race director Nick Paquette. “But people love this race and it is building momentum.”

It seems the hardest part of the race for many was coming out of the ocean after an impromptu polar bear plunge, as the water was much warmer than the air outside.

“The water is about 48 (degrees) and the air temperature is about 33,” said Roy Dennehy, 68, of North Andover, who was on his 20th New Year’s Classic. “It’s warmer inside the water than getting out.”

“This is like Miami Beach today,” continued Dennehy, who runs with the Gate City Striders out of Nashua, N.H. “You can’t believe what it was like at some of these races. There’s rain and wind hitting you in the face, cutting you to ribbons. Today is nice. Normally, the tide is higher (too). You’ve got to go a long way into the water today.”

Just about to make that long trek into the wet was Brian Carmody, 43, of Peabody, who was out for his first New Year’s Classic and felt it was a nice way to start the new year.

“It was fun,” said Carmody. “It’s a nice day. I like the weather. I was expecting it to be a little cooler, so it should be a good day to jump into the ocean.”

Amy Delorie, 41, of Stratham, N.H., was on her fifth Classic accompanied by friend Jeff Alvarez, 31, of Manchester, N.H., who was on his third.

“It’s good weather,” said Alvarez. “I’m looking forward to the plunge. The water is not that cold, it’s getting out (that’s the problem.) That’s when it hits you. It’s cleansing for the new year. Out with the old, in with the new.”

Dave Short, 32, of Dracut was dripping wet from the plunge after his first Classic .

“The weather is worse than the water,” said Short. “It felt good after drinking 20 beers last night, though. I would say it’s a baptism of sorts.”

Taking the plunge with Short was Leah Varnal, 33, also of Dracut.

“I couldn’t breathe when I came out,” said a shivering Varnal. “Happy New Year.”

Joanne Regan, 49, of South Boston came up to run and swim with her friend, Jill Ciccotelli, 49, of Methuen. Both women will turn 50 in 2013 and are looking to take the year by storm as well as see the Patriots win the Super Bowl this year.

“It was fun,” Ciccotelli said of the race. “This was our goal, when we turn 50. It was my best time (too at 39:06.)”

Firefighter Mike Soucy, 39, of Manchester ran in his turnout gear to remind people to support their local fire departments and said that the gear slowed him down more than people might think.

“It acts more like a sail,” Soucy said of his coat and gear. “There’s a lot of weight. (But) people were really cheering me on. It was nice.”

“It’s a fantastic day,” said Paquette. “The proof is in the eating. We’ll see how people finished up. The roads are a little slick, so there were no personal bests. We’ve got a good DJ this year and we’ve got great sponsors. That’s what we want to do, is have a good time.”

David Ndungo, 34, won the 5K with a time of 17:08. Benjamin Dutton, 19, of North Salem, N.H., was second at 17:23. Kaitlin Anelauskas, 27, of Somerville won the women’s division by coming in third at 17:50 and Sharon Fredette, 30, of Portsmouth, N.H., was second for the women at 18:40.

The 10K first place finisher was Christopher Muskoff, 37, of Roxbury, who came in with a time of 36:31. Second place went to Greg Balog, 40, of Amesbury at 36:36. Amy Bernard, 34, of Hampstead, N.H., finished first for the women at 37:32, followed by Beth Dollas, 35, of Amesbury at 39:32.

Proceeds from this year’s race will benefit the Winner’s Circle’s various charitable activities and youth and adult running programs, including the American Red Cross and Hurricane Sandy relief.