Freihofer’s Notebook: Gruca best in masters

Dorota Gruca said she’d like to scare some people in two weeks. Laughing and smiling, holding a bouq

Dorota Gruca said she’d like to scare some people in two weeks.

Laughing and smiling, holding a bouquet of red roses, she didn’t look like she’d be able to scare anyone.

What she meant was that she would like to run well enough at the upcoming nationals in Poland to hang with the younger elite runners, and after her performance at the Freihofer’s Run for Women on Saturday, the youngsters should be afraid. Very afraid.

Gruca, 42, won the masters div­ision at Freihofer’s in 16:59 to finish 17th overall and almost 25 seconds ahead of the next master, Sheri Piers of the U.S.

She actually wasn’t thrilled with her time, but was willing to chalk it up to the hot, humid conditions, after having run a 16:40 recently.

“I wanted to go a little faster, but with these conditions, today was not about the time. Just to win, just to win,” Gruca said.

“You have to listen to your heart, and that’s what I’m doing. When you’re older, you should know you’ve got it. I picked up the pace a little, and then said, ‘I’m going. I’m going.’ ”

The other top masters finishers were Trina Painter (18:07.9), Emily Bryans of Duanesburg (18:16.4), Mary Pardi (18:43.7) and Freihofer’s mainstay Carmen Ayala-Troncoso, who is still going strong at 54 and ran an 18:56.7.

Running legend Joan Benoit Samuelson was next in the division, posting an 18:58.2 at the age of 56 to finish 36th overall.

Gruca won Freihofer’s last year in 16:50, and also won the Carlsbad 5,000 and Bloomsday Run 12K this year in the same pre-Freihofer’s schedule she used in 2012.

“I ran 16:40 recently, and I have nationals in two weeks in Poland, and I think I can do that again and maybe scare the younger runners,” she said with a laugh.


The top high school runner from Section II was Saratoga Springs senior Keelin Hollowood, who was 26th overall, one spot behind Bryans, in 18:24.

She won the 2,000 steeplechase at the Section II qualifier on Thursday. …

Benita Willis, who won Freihofer’s three years in a row from 2006-08, returned to the race from Australia despite the fact that she wouldn’t be running.

She was one of many elite runners who visited schoolkids during the week and served as an analyst on the press truck for the TV play-by-play.

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