The outstanding duels that 2007 produced died before the runners reached Vale Cemetery this time.
A year after just five seconds separated the men’s and women’s Gazette Stockade-athon winners from their respective runners-up, Emory Mort of Ghent and Kaitlin O’Sullivan of Syracuse each won by almost a minute on Sunday after dropping their closest rivals for good on the uphills after the halfway point.
A 25-year-old former Cornell University track and cross country captain, Mort was elbow-to-elbow with Willow Street Athletic Club teammate and 2007 champion Andy Allstadt through 5k as they passed Ellis Hospital on Nott Street.
Mort created a gap as they headed up the State Street hill, and although 15k isn’t his best distance, he was able to build even more of a cushion after the course flattened out and finish in 47:52 to win the USATF East Region championship.
Mort earned $600 for first place and free travel to the USATF nationals at the Gate River Run on March 14 in Jacksonville, Fla. He ran a 47:34 there in 2007, his only other experience racing 15k.
“It was good. I felt pretty comfortable,” Mort said. “Fifteen-k is about the longest distance I’ll go, because I’m a 5k-and-down kind of guy, but I like running in these local races because I’m from Ghent.
“I didn’t know the course at all, and I was thinking about those two hills, the one at 51⁄2 [miles] and the one at 7. I just felt a little better than Andy. I was still hurting on those hills. I just tried to get up them.”
To view the top overall finishers, as well as those in individual age groups, click here.
On a cool, partly cloudy day, the Stockade-athon crushed the record for participation in the
33-year history of the race, drawing 1,368 entries, of which 1,257 finished, beating the total of 1.159 in 1984 that was almost equaled last year.
Dueling all the way with 2006 winner Fred Joslyn last year, Allstadt ripped a 46:36 in 2007, but he’s been concentrating on marathon training this fall and has been hampered by a bad back that almost knocked him out of the Stockade-athon.
As late as Saturday, Allstadt didn’t believe he would even run, especially after his back spasmed on Friday, but he made it to Central Park and said he didn’t feel any back pain during the race.
When he got to the top of State Street, though, he knew he wasn’t going to catch Mort. Allstadt’s split times for miles six through nine were all slower than 5:20.
“The last couple of miles was my marathon pace, basically,” the
25-year-old former UAlbany star said. “Once we got up the hill, I couldn’t go faster than that,
The two Willow Street runners didn’t take it out quickly, but still had a big gap on their teammates, Tim Scarpinato of Clifton Park and Chuck Terry of Albany, through 5k.
Justin Bishop, 27, of Colonie, followed Scarpinato and Terry, and former Shenendehowa runner Rob Cloutier was next.
“I tried to be really conservative,” Mort said. “I’ve run a little faster than this before, but in that race [Gate River], I went out way fast and just died the whole time, so this race I wanted to go out a little more relaxed. That one, my splits were 15:16, 15:50, 16:20, and this one, it was 15:58, 15:55, 16-flat or something, so it was under control the whole time. I’m never going to set this race on fire, because I’m not a 15k guy or a marathoner.”
Mort didn’t have to set the Stockade-athon on fire; a slow burn was sufficient to win.
He looked comfortable making the final lap around Iroquois Lake after methodically rattling off the even 5k splits despite the fact that the second half of the course is much slower, with the State Street and Bradley Boulevard hills.
“This is a stretch for me,” he said. “But it was good. It says that I’m fit.”
“He always runs well. He’s a real smart runner,” Allstadt said. “His usual race strategy is negative splits, and that worked out well for him on this course, although we didn’t end up going out that fast.
“Basically, he beat me up the hill. And right at the top of the hill, he pulled away even more, but he already had a pretty good gap. Considering the last couple of days, I’m just happy to finish. It was disappointing to be two minutes slower than last year.”
Mort grew up in Ghent, but went to Mercersburg Academy in Pennsylvania. He didn’t become a serious runner until he went to Cornell, where he was an accomplished steeplechaser and miler.
After graduating, he went back to Mercersburg to teach math and chemistry for three years before returning to New York. He’s a volunteer assistant coach for cross country at Cornell and works for the Web site letsrun.com.
“This is one of the coolest races in the area,” he said. “It’s one of the most historic races, one of the biggest names, to have Bill Rodgers here, to have Jerry Lawson come in here and win this race, and Andy’s time last year was really fast, so this is a really cool race. That’s probably the main reason I ran it, is because it’s local and my friends are here and I like running races that I have a chance to win, because I run a lot where I just get killed.”
Allstadt is scheduled to run in the Philadelphia Marathon in two weeks, where he was going to try to post a sub-2:20 to qualify for the U.S. Olympic Trials, but in light of his overstretched back, he said he doubts he’ll be able to do that now.
Scarpinato gave Willow Street a 1-2-3 finish with third place in 49:42, followed by Aaron Robertson of Rouses Point in 50:04 and Terry in 50:50.
Bishop held on for sixth in 50:56, followed by Cloutier (51:45), Bob Irwin of Guilderland (51:56),
44-year-old masters winner Jeff Niedeck of Canaan, Conn. (52:03) and Jim Sweeney of Albany (52:29).