SCHENECTADY — Talk to Lou Serafini and Karen Bertasso-Hughes about their running these days, and it’s like you’re listening to the same person.
They each have cranked up their mileage over the last six weeks, they’re both looking forward to tapering at some point in the next week and a half, and the primary objective for both is to run well at the California International Marathon (CIM) on Dec. 4.
They both grew up in Schenectady County, so they were on familiar streets on Sunday in the MVP Health Care Stockade-athon 15k.
Winning was a pretty cool parallel, too.
Serafini took it out hard and never looked back in blowing away the field to take the men’s race for the second year in a row, in 45:59, and Bertasso-Hughes also enjoyed a comfortable margin in the women’s division, winning in a personal-record 55:26 for her first-ever Stockade-athon victory.
“Oh, man, these are the best races, being able to come home and run through streets that I grew up running on,” the 31-year-old Serafini said. “It means everything to be able to come back and run here, especially since, now that I’m getting older, you appreciate it more and more.”
“It’s awesome,” the 38-year-old Bertasso-Hughes said. “I played soccer at Union College, and I’d be on the field watching the race go on during the game and thought, ‘I really want to run that someday.’ As soon as I graduated in 2006, I think I ran it for the first time. I’ve done this race a lot, I grew up in Scotia, went to Union, it’s right in my backyard, so it’s awesome.”
Serafini, a former distance star at Niskayuna High School who ran for Boston College, notched his third Stockade-athon victory, having also won it in 2016 with a time of 45:23.
He won it in 45:28 last year and on Sunday became the first man to win the Stockade-athon in consecutive years since 1990.
His finish time was a half-minute slower, but considering the fact that the Stockade-athon was a steppingstone to the CIM, Serafini was OK with that.
He had a game plan to run the first and third 5k segments in 15:15 and the middle one in 15:30, and executed it, bookending 15:12’s around a 15:36.
“I haven’t been racing that much,” Serafini said. “I ran an Olympic Trials qualifier in June at Grandma’s, and I’m training for CIM. My goal is to try to run a big PR, hopefully, at CIM.
“So this was actually kind of a workout, to be honest. I tried to do 5k at half marathon pace, then a 5k at a marathon pace effort and then a 5k hard again at the end, just to simulate a good, hard workout.
“It was a little fast in the middle, but I’m hoping to run between 5-flat and 5:10 [mile pace] at CIM, so 5:05s would be perfect.”
Serafini finished 19th with a time of 2:15:54 at the Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, Minnesota on June 18.
As far as the victory on Sunday was concerned, that was never in doubt.
Serafini took it out hard from the start on State Street through downtown and made it through the Stockade, up Nott Street toward Central Park and back through Vale Cemetery and Vale Park to the finish on the Franklin Street downhill without a threat from the competition.
Sam Morse finished second in 47:34, 1:35 behind Serafini, and Scott Mindel (47:59), Charles Ragone (48:02) and Luke Tkaczyk (48:37) rounded out the top five.
“I’m used to running alone,” Serafini said. “I’d rather set the pace at the start and cruise and just control the race, rather than taking a chance at the end. So it was fine, and the crowds were actually great today. I had a lot of fun with it.
“I wasn’t going for a PR or anything. Just wanted to get the win and put in a good, solid effort. If I really squeezed it I could’ve maybe run 45:20, 45:30. It’s a little too close to my goal race to get a super-hard effort in, so I really wanted to be in control so I could recover from it and get a few more good runs in before the race.”
The CIM will be the site of the U.S. Championships, so Serafini, who hit 110 training miles this week and will scale it back leading up to Dec. 4, is looking forward to being pulled along to a fast time in Sacramento.
That’s the plan — and goal — for Bertasso-Hughes, too.
She has been consistently training about 95 miles per week for the last six weeks, cutting back to 80 this week, and was taking what she could get out of the Stockade-athon without disrupting the progression to the CIM.
She finished 1:16 ahead of the next woman, Rachel Peterson of Poertland, Oregon.
“The wind was pretty tough,” Bertasso-Hughes said. “I was by myself, and I felt like it was at me the whole time. So I didn’t really know, because I’m three weeks out from a marathon, and the past six weeks have been the most miles I’ve ever had on my legs.
“I didn’t really know how my legs were going to respond. They weren’t as peppy as I’d like, but I guess that’s to be expected with a taper three weeks out.”
Bertasso-Hughes said she draws motivation from her teammates with the Willow Street AC, including Stockade-athon veteran Chuck Terry, who won the masters division in his first year as a 40-year-old, in 53:26.
“That’s the great thing with Willow Street,” Bertasso-Hughes said. “We have women that are in their 50s and really running well. That’s why I really love this team, the inspiration from all the women and the men.”
Like Serafini, Bertasso-Hughes will cut back in mileage as the CIM approaches.
But the Stockade-athon provided an opportunity to test herself in a race setting.
Her 5k split times were even, 18:24 followed by 18:35 and 18:28.
“Basically, CIM has some hills, especially the first half, so I was really trying for a hard effort on some of these hills,” she said. “I mean, it’s a tough course here. I ran a half [marathon] six weeks ago and went through in 54:40-something for the 15k split, so I knew, depending on how I felt, that that could be possible on a good day here. But with the wind, by myself … I can’t complain.
“I think it was 30-plus second course PR for me, and I’ve done this 10 times, I’m 38 and I’m not getting any younger. I’ve never done this much mileage before. I figured now is the time.”
A total of 1,009 runners finished the Stockade-athon.
Louis Serafini (31, Cambridge, Mass.), 45:59; Sam Morse (39, Syracuse), 47:34; Scott Mindel (36, Burlington, Mass.), 47:59; Charles Ragone (24, Albany), 48:02; Luke Tkaczyk (19, Northwood, N.H.), 48:37; Steve Soprano (35 (Queensbury), 48:46; Ben Fazio (27, Troy), 48:52; Tyler Greene (18, Scotia), 48:56; Aidan Canavan (23, Niskayuna), 49:10; Nathaniel Sletten (19, Rome), 49:14.
Jack Huber (22, Delmar), 49:25; Cameron Davis (22, Delmar), 49:26; Jack Vite (26, Clifton Park), 49:29; Conor Cashin (30, Boston, Mass.), 49:46; Jay Parker (19, New Lenox, Ill.), 49:55;
Steve Booker (26, Portland, Ore.), 49:57; Noah Greski (19, Scotia), 49:59; Jonathan Lindenauer (34, Ballston Lake), 50:29; Jimmy Smith (20, Pittsford), 50:56; Peter Alden (21, Essex, Vt.), 51:03.
Keith Machabee (26, Delmar), 51:05; Brody Santagata (18, Middletown, Conn.), 51:12; Alexander Bianconi (22, Ballston Lake), 51:15; Kyril Van Schendel (23, Cairo), 51:20; Tyler Morrissey (25, Clifton Park), 51:20; Alexander Grout (36, Chappaqua), 51:26; Thomas Paquette (31, Keene, N.H.), 51:38; Chris Adamski (21, Danbury, Conn.), 51:56; Peter Rowell (33, Albany), 52:12; Chuck Terry (40, Albany), 53:26.
Isaac Menis (21, Schenectady), 53:32; Jeff Goupil (35, Arlington, Mass.), 53:32; Mike Chow (43, Poughkeepsie), 53:33; Thomas Slicer (28, Oneonta), 53:56; Thomas O’Grady (37, Slingerlands), 53:58; Alejandro Gauna (39, Delmar), 54:27; Noah Valvo (23, Delanson), 54:39; Joseph Sullivan (43, Schenectady), 54:54; Alan Finder (34, Albany), 55:03; John Deer (40, Slingerlands), 55:05.
Scott Humphrey (56, Marcy), 55:11; Karen Bertasso-Hughe (38, Selkirk), 55:26; Matthew Brown (23, Minerva), 55:34; Robert Ordish (37, Schenectady), 55:57; Liam Cowdrey (16, Scotia), 56:10; Brian Sadonis (36, Troy), 56:20; Rachel Peterson (26, Portland, Ore.), 56:42; Andrew Canavan (25, Scotia), 56:44; Roman Silen (22, Wellesley, Mass.), 56:45; Derek Grout (50, Valatie), 56:55.
Jamal Vazquez (24, Gloversville), 56:56; Thomas Gabriel (35, Niskayuna), 57:01; Matt Becker (37, South Glens Falls), 57:05; Diane Ryan (40, Malta), 57:07; Matthew Gokey (48, Delmar), 57:08; Alex Tong (18, Troy), 57:17; Nathan Laing (27, Schenectady), 57:26; Shaun McGrath (43, Whitehall), 57:28; Margaret Champagne (24, Saratoga Springs), 57:30; Vincent Aceto (36, Schenectady), 57:31.
Ryan Freihofer (16, Scotia), 57:32; Matt Crave (45, Schenectady), 57:47; Emily Taft (32, Albany), 57:49; Wei Ma (44, Clifton Park), 57:51; Kyle Mahoney (41, Ballston Lake), 57:55; Andrew Pavlou (35, Schenectady), 58:12; Wudu Girma (29, Menands), 58:15; Joseph Mansour (35, North New Hyde Park), 58:15; Bradley Lewis (36, Troy), 58:20; Robert Kelley (29, Afton), 58:24.
Erin Rasco (34, Keeseville), 58:28; David Putney (58, Newport), 58:34; Jack Zieber (15, Rotterdam), 59:10; Peter Maroko (19, Nyack), 59:12; Peter Conboy (33, Albany), 59:15; Andrew Reed (51, Niskayuna), 59:19; Joseph Messia (40, Loudonville), 59:21; Phil Matthews (48, Waterford), 59:24; Sophia Vinciguerra (21, Syracuse), 59:25; Patric Brew (53, Kinderhook), 59:30.
Derrick Staley (64, Ballston Lake), 59:42; Greg Ethier (49, Mechanicville), 59:45; Ryan Fisher (42, Ballston Spa), 59:50; Evan Sweet (18, Averill Park), 59:56; Meghan Mortensen (37, Glenville), 59:59; Eric Parker (36, Glenville), 1:00:14; Eric White (37, New Hartford), 1:00:20; Caitlin Abelseth (29, Boston, Mass.), 1:00:27; Jonathan Louden (38, Clifton Park), 1:00:27; Jason Greski (47, Scotia), 1:00:28.
Michael Hoover (36, Clinton), 1:00:28; Ben Jordan (35, Ballston Spa), 1:00:30; Jonathan Petruccelli (41, Albany), 1:00:33; Marta Dauphinee (44, Glenville), 1:00:35; Robert Irwin (49, Guilderland), 1:00:39; Steven Imbriaco (46, Glenmont), 1:00:39; Tyler Knaggs (17, Schenectady), 1:00:44; Finn Winters-Bona (16, Glenville), 1:00:47; Greg Hart (34, Saratoga Springs), 1:00:49; Jessica Charles (40, Oriskany), 1:00:59.