The trips were slow, but they came because they heard that the course was fast.
Kyle Smith and a buddy drove 101⁄2 hours from Michigan, and Vicky Jasparro flew from Fredericksburg, Va., and it paid off for both as they won the men’s and women’s races at the 30th annual Mohawk Hudson River Marathon from Schenectady to Albany on Sunday.
In fact, four of the top five men’s finishers came from out of state to run in the popular marathon, for which entries limited to 1,200 were fully booked in May.
Smith, a 24-year-old two-time junior college All-American in the half-marathon, won in 2:30:41 to beat Mike Roda of Albany by 2:45, catching Roda in the 19th of 26.2 miles and concentrated on the rear tire of the police escort motorcycle in front of him the rest of the way.
“Once I passed him, I was too afraid to look back, because I was questioning how I felt,” Smith said. “If I looked back, I might’ve just thrown it in at that point. Just straight forward [concentration] on the police bike.”
There was a concensus among many of the top finishers that the weather conditions — 50’s, gray — were nearly ideal, except for a little headwind when the course left the bikepath for city streets in Cohoes.
Smith, who ran for Oakland Community College and Siena Heights University near his hometown of Linden, just south of Flint, left Michigan Friday morning, and he and his friend made frequent stops to keep his back loose.
He tried to keep a pretty steady pace on the course, too, but Roda forced the action with some hard pushes early.
Smith led at the half-marathon in 1:14:15, with Eric Bofinger of Langhorne, Pa.; Sean Gallagher of Clearwater, Fla.; Roda; defending champion Chuck Terry of Albany; and Jon Chesto of South Boston, Mass., in a group over a minute behind.
“I never made a move,” Smith said. “He [Roda] took off, I caught him at four [miles], he took off again and I kept trying to surge, but he was hammering 5:30s. I was way under pace at the half, 1:14, so I came back slower, but I went out harder than I wanted to to stay in contention.
“Then at 17, I saw him coming back a little bit. I got confidence from there, made a push, took the pass and then it was running in fear from there.”
The MHR Marathon was Smith’s second, after debuting last year with a win in Charlotte, N.C., in 2:37.
An assistant cross country coach at Oakland CC, he wants to make the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials.
“I figured this should be a good confidence booster,” he said. “The competition looked good here, everyone’s always around 2:30 or lower, so I figured it would be a competitive race the whole way, and it was.”
After Roda, Gallagher finished in 2:34:11, followed by Chesto (2:36:01) and Bofinger (2:36:55).
Terry, who ran 2:32:47 to win it last year, dropped back to eighth in 2:43:06.
“I just crashed,” he said. “I was running in third with Mike Roda, and at 22, 23, I just ran out of gas. I walked quite a bit the last three miles. I had a 91⁄2-minute mile in there.
“I didn’t really train for it this year like I did in previous years. I wanted to run it because I won it last year and felt like, if the weather was good, I could come out here and anything could happen. In terms of long runs, I got a 14-miler in, and that was about it, so I was kind of pushing my luck.”
The 39-year-old Jasparro didn’t have as much of a travel grind as Smith did, but it should be noted that she was born in Hong Kong and grew up in England.
Like Smith, the trip paid dividends in the form of a personal-record time of 2:56:11, almost two minutes ahead of 33-year-old Erin Davis, the former multiple high school state champion at Saratoga Springs High.
“My goal was 2:55, so I was just slightly off my goal, but it was a great day,” Jasparro said. “I’d heard that it was a really good course, flat and fast. So I came.
“We flew up on Friday, spent yesterday looking at the course and going to the Expo, and eating a lot.”
Davis and Melanie Staley led the race until the 11-mile mark, when Jasparro made her move.
Jasparro hit the half-marathon in 1:27:26, 16 seconds ahead of Davis and Staley.
She steadily increased her lead bit by bit the rest of the way.
“I overtook them at mile 11, then I ran with them for a bit and felt like they were going too slow, so I took them and didn’t see them again,” she said. “I felt pretty good the whole way. It was just that headwind when you get off the path.”
“I was pretty excited the first mile and went out real fast, a 6:30, and I felt like I was just floating,” Davis said. “I’m more of a 5k, 10k runner, so it’s hard to pace yourself for these long distances.
“She ran a great race. She paced herself very well and looked very strong at 11. We said, ‘Adios.’ She just went and kept going.”
Jasparro works as a research assistant for the U.S. Marine Corps in the cultural training and education department.
She ran her previous PR, 2:59, in the spring.
The Mohawk Hudson River Half-Marathon also was swept by out-of-staters.
Kyle Stanton, 21, of Columbia, Md., won the men’s race by over four minutes in 1:07:08, and Thomas O’Grady of Latham (1:11:42) came in second.
Elizabeth Paddock of Madison, Wis., won the women’s race in 1:22:36.
Kyle Smith (24, Linden, Mich.), 2:30:41; Mike Roda (36, Albany), 2:33:26; Sean Gallagher (30, Clearwater, Fla.), 2:34:11; Jon Chesto (41, South Boston, Mass.), 2:36:01; Eric Bofinger (27, Langhorn, Pa.), 2:36:55; Jim Sweeney (31, Albany), 2:37:27; Jeremy Drowne (35, West Chazy), 2:42:10; Chuck Terry (30, Albany), 2:43:06; Adam Bross (23, Troy), 2:43:34; James Davis (25, Ottsville, Pa.), 2:46:45.
Shawn Spriggs (33, Potsdam), 2:48:31; James O’Connor (38, Troy), 2:50:08; Justin Vianese (39, Saratoga Springs), 2:51:37; Ian Cadieu (28, Norwalk, Conn.), 2:52:26; Andrew Pacholec (28, Gloucester, Mass.), 2:52:38; Scott Layton (36, Rockport, Maine), 2:54:33; Jordan Young (35, Brooklyn), 2:55:52; Shawn Molloy (43, Central Square), 2:56:14; Nolan Graham (32, Troy), 2:56:42; Sean Severance (45, Central Square), 2:57:33.
Vicky Jasparro (39, Fredericksburg, Va.), 2:56:11; Erin Davis (33, Gansevoort), 2:58:05; Melanie Staley (31, Saratoga Springs), 3:00:27; Karen Dolge (42, Valatie), 3:06:46; Katherine Frey (37, Bayville), 3:08:03; Stephanie Rogers (40, Potsdam), 3:13:38; Christine Capuano (45, Altamont), 3:13:49; Erin Ramsay (33, Shelburne, Vt.), 3:15:18; Jennifer Jankowski (43, Kingston), 3:16:52; Marcy Sacks (43, Albion, Mich.), 3:18:21.
Aroline Seibert Hanson (32, State College, Pa.), 3:19:57; Angel Turnbow (36, Haughton, La.), 3:21:17; Aya Leitz (35, Jersey City, N.J.), 3:21:24; Nellie Cedergren (35, Champlain), 3:25:03; Kaylynn Azer (48, Niskayuna), 3:25:50; Marie-Syrin Daigneault (33, Montreal), 3:26:00; Sungwon Hwang (42, New York), 3:26:37; Karen Bronstein (44, Englewood, N.J.), 3:26:47; Regan Colestock (25, New York), 3:27:34; Nicole Beckwith (34, Sidney), 3:27:41.
MHR HALF MARATHON
Kyle Stanton (21, Columbia, Md.), 1:07:08; Thomas O’Grady (27, Latham), 1:11:42; Tim Caramore (30, Madison, Wis.), 1:12:53; Nick Webster (23, Latham), 1:14:04; Volker Burkowski (41, Gansevoort), 1:15:27; Anthony Giuliano (33, Albany), 1:16:50; Jim Eaton (37, Castleton), 1:18:12; Jeff Andrews (35, Delmar), 1:20:34; Jon Rocco (45, Colonie), 1:20:55; Jeremiah Tylutki (32, Utica), 1:21:48.
Derek Balcom (29, Brooklyn), 1:21:58; Brian Debraccio (46, Scotia), 1:24:01; Sean Johnson (41, New York), 1:24:27; Anthony Erno (15, Glenville), 1:24:35; Eric Zenner (36, Ballston Lake), 1:24:35; David Tromp (37, Glenmont), 1:25:26; Daniel Gracey (35, Albany), 1:26:51; Christopher Turcio (28, Schenectady), 1:27:38; Craig Weidman (41, Selkirk), 1:27:58; Jack Arnold (49, Latham), 1:28:07.
Elizabeth Paddock (31, Madison, Wis.), 1:22:36; Meghan Davey (27, Rotterdam), 1:25:45; Gretchen Oliver (38, Guilderland), 1:26:06; Kimberly Miseno-Bowles (42, Amsterdam), 1:26:32; Nancy Briskie (55, Schenectady), 1:29:41; Elizabeth Chauhan (28, Albany), 1:33:20; Sally Drake (39, Albany), 1:33:44; Laura Zima (32, Schenectady), 1:33:45; Christine Varley (48, Albany), 1:33:56; Tina Cukrovany (35, Rensselaer), 1:34:58.
Estelle Burns (37, Troy), 1:35:42; Dawn Valera-McGarry (42, Cohoes), 1:36:09; Jessica Northan (36, Guilderland), 1:37:01; Linda Kimmey (53, Clifton Park), 1:37:02; Anne Gullickson (48, Kingston), 1:37:17; Laurie Machung (44, Tillson), 1:38:12; Maria Barton (46, Delanson), 1:38:50; Nancy Taormina (53, Albany), 1:39:07; Cheryl Abert (55, Belchertown, Mass.), 1:39:20; Alison Muse (51, Saratoga Springs), 1:39:23.