Familiarity is overrated. Just ask Laurel Burdick.
The 24-year-old Manlius resident didn’t know the course and only recognized a few of her peers, but that didn’t prevent her from pulling away to win the women’s division of the 34th annual Gazette Stockade-athlon by almost two minutes Sunday over Jen Adams of Gansevoort, who was the runner-up for the second consecutive year.
Burdick clocked a 54:00.9 to finish 21st overall. Adams finished in 55:53.3, good for 36th overall, and 25-year-old Leslie Dillon of Lee, N.H., was among the women with a time of 57:39.3, followed by 34-year-old Emiliy Lasala of Jamesville in 57:52.6.
Lori Kingsley, 43, of Wysox, Pa., the 15k National Women’s Master’s Champion, was fifth in the women’s division, and 62nd overall, with a time of 58:24.9.
“I am very pleased, both with my finish and with my time,” said an ecstatic Burdick. “I knew the first part of the course was supposed to be fast, and that you wanted to get off to a good start, but I try to keep an even pace. I heard the hills here are tough.
“This is my first time running this course. I just kept to a pace of about 5:45 or so. I’m not sure what my pace actually was, but I think it was pretty close to that.”
Actually, Burdick was right on the money. Her average pace was 5:48.
“I like the course. There’s a nice park to begin and finish with, and there’s lots of nice scenery,” she said.
“I recognized a few of the names of runners I’ve competed with before, but there were some names missing, and I didn’t really see anybody I knew out on the course. I was keeping track of where I was by looking at the men around me,” Burdick said. “I heard about the course from [last year’s winner] Kaitlin O’Sullivan. She told me there were a lot of good runners here.”
Burdick, upstate New York’s best 15k runner who ran 54:59 at this year’s Utica Boilermaker to finish as the third-best American, said the Stockade-athon will be her final race in a long competitive season. A former All-American cross country and track and field standout at Boston College, where she competed for five seasons, including a year at graduate school, Burdick won the 5k Syracuse Arc and was second in a race at Oswego. She also won the Utica Falling Leaves race in a busy fall season.
Although the 23-year-old Adams didn’t finish as close to Burdick as she would have liked, she was thrilled with her time.
“It was a PR for me,” she said. “I figured the winner would be somebody around 54 minutes, but I was happy with my time. I wanted to finish in less than 56 minutes, and I did. I didn’t really see Laurel most of the race. I didn’t know who she was.”
Adams was particularly pleased with her time, considering her recent injuries.
“My right knee has been bothering me. I hope it’s just some wear and tear, but I’m going to get an MRI to check it out,” she said.
“Although the weather was great by the time we fnished, I would have liked it to be a little cooler. It got to be pretty warm at the end.”
Adams finished in the top 30 in the Tufts Invitational and also competed in the CVS race this fall.
“I think my knee hindered my training some. I only ran three days this week getting ready for this race,” she said.
Adams said she is enjoying her new role as the distance running coach for the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute women’s track team.
“Coaching is a lot of fun,” she said.
Schenectady’s Eileen Combs, 31, the 2007 women’s champion, was sixth in 58:37.8.