Last year, Tim Chichester went too soon; this year, he showed up late.
Registering at the last minute, the 2010 Gazette Stockade-athon runner-up will be one of the top contenders when the 36th annual 15k race is held at 9 a.m. today.
Defending men’s champion Andy Allstadt isn’t running, but the next two finishers, Chichester and former Shenendehowa and Cincinnati star Scott Mindel, who were less than a half-minute behind Allstadt, lead what should be another close race.
“One guy who could spoil the party is Tim Chichester,” race director Vince Juliano said earlier in the week, before Chichester was entered. “He smoked the field at Dunkin. He lost to Andy by seconds last year.”
The 23-year-old Chichester, a former SUNY-Geneseo runner, actually led the 2010 Stockade-athon at the top of Bradley Street just past the seven-mile mark, but Allstadt passed him back.
Chichester was still in range to respond, but misjudged his kick, not realizing that there was still a loop around Iroquois Lake once the finish line became visible in Central Park.
He knows the course this time, and he’s running fast times.
Chichester won the Run for Dunkin 5k in Albany on Sept. 18
in 14:49.1, well ahead of Justin Wood (15:10.6), who is also in the Stockade-athon field, and Mindel (15:12.8).
Mindel, who is coming off a 2:30 at the Hartford Marathon four weeks ago, said he was encouraged by that result because, besides being a PR, he did it one day after running a five-miler at the pace he expects to run in the Stockade-athon.
He made a run at Allstadt and Chichester late, and believes that he left himself a little too much work to do in the latter stages of the race.
“He’s [Chichester] much better than me at 5k,” Mindel said. “As the distance goes up, I close in on him. I made up a lot of distance in the last 5k. At about 7, I was almost right on them, then I kind of ran out of steam.
My gameplan is similar, but I want to be a little faster through the 5k and 10k. My goal is to be on him.”
As a side note, Mindel is attempting to win a race that his father Mark, won three times in the first four years of its existence.
He’s only run the race twice, officially, but has covered the course on race days while escorting his father, who has finished all 35 Stockade-athons and will be on the starting line again this morning, home.
“The first year, I met him at the 5k. It was always during [high school] cross country season,” Scott Mindel said. “By then, his racing was like my easy run that first year.
“I remember him telling me that there was this really big hill on State Street. I remember him breathing real hard, and I asked him, ‘When are we going to hit this hill?’ He was breathing hard and said, ‘We already hit it.’ I guess I was a little full of myself. Then the next year I did the whole thing with him and stopped at 8 because I was tired. Then he was making fun of me.”
Another interesting registrant to the men’s field this week, and more surprising than Chichester’s entry, was four-time Kevin Collins, who is competing as a master now. He and Mark Andrews, one of the best masters runners in the country, should be in contact with the lead group.
The women’s division also is absent its defending champion, Amanda Lopiccolo, but the women’s race is expected to be just as competitive as the men’s, if not moreso.
The Stockade-athon has drawn two who have qualified for the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials, Albany native Ashley Gorr and Jodie Robertson, and the marathoners face a stiff challenge from 35-year-old Sara Facteau of Plattsburgh, who is coming off a 2:53:58 to win the Mohawk Hudson River Marathon on Oct. 9.
“It’s the third year in a row that the women have had just a powerhouse field,” Juliano said.
At MHR, Facteau, a two-time Class B cross country state champ for Peru High School in the early 1990s, was running just her second career marathon.
Gorr and Robertson, who finished third in the Stockade-athon last year when she was known by her maiden name, Jodie Schoppmann, will compete in the U.S. Trials in Houston in January.
“If anything, it’s [Stockade-athon] just racing experience, and it will be a training run,” Gorr said. “I honestly haven’t thought about time. If I’m well rested and have a great day, I’m capable of . . . whatever, I don’t even know, 5:50 pace? Maybe that’s conservative.”
A 5:50 pace just about would have won the Stockade-athon last year. Lopiccolo (53:58.6) averaged 5:48 per mile.
“I’m training through it, because the goal is January,” Robertson said. “So I’m not sure what I’ll do I’ve got a good six-week block of training, but I haven’t been racing, so we’ll see.”
Juliano said entries topped off at 1,794, a record.
Based on the 10 percent no-show rule and the fact that the weather will be nice, the Stockade-athon could have 1,600 finishers. The record is 1,387, set last year.
Temperatures are expected to be around 40 degrees for the race, with sunshine. . . .
Juliano said the public responded generously to charitable endeavors at Saturday’s Stockade-athon Expo. The City Mission gathered 20 bags of clothes, and Concerned for the Hungry enjoyed a record turnout of food donations.