The Manchester Running Company men’s club team successfully defended the USATF-CT Connecticut Cup at the grueling Colchester Half Marathon on Saturday, February 22nd. The Connecticut Cup is a winner-take-all event that scores the top five men and top three women from each team to determine a winner. Along with mini-cups for the five scorers, the winning team’s name is engraved into the perpetual cup to be remembered forever! Oh and then there is also $500 for the men’s winning team and $300 for the winning women’s team.
The running conditions could not have been better for the 10:00 a.m. start. T-shirts, shorts, and singlets were worn all around as the temperature pushed 50 degrees, bright sun, and just a very light breeze in some parts of the course. For those not familiar with the race, the Colchester Half is one of the toughest road courses in the state with punishing hills through farm country, including the final 1.2 miles virtually all climbing.
The race was very competitive from the gun with Mohegan Striders’ top runner Jeffrey Wadecki and EKG’s Chris Rosenberg taking the early lead and never really looking back. The two went on to finish in 1:12 and 1:14, respectively, giving Mohegan a very nice cushion at the number one position. MRC’s #1 Garrett Ash ran a smart race, knowing his abilities over the long distance he was able to pull MRC’s second man, Chris McCormack, along for much of the race. Ash and McCormack would go through five miles together before some distance separated the two. Ash took third overall in 1:17:08 and thus becomes the first runner to place in the top three at three consecutive CT Cup races. Ash was able to hold of Mohegan’s number 2, Spyros Barres by just one second. Mohegan certainly looked in control of the race through two runners but MRC’s depth would soon show.
McCormack had an excellent early season race and one of his best half marathons in the last 5 years as he completed the course fifth overall in 1:18:34. Phil Mitchell started the race very conservatively and moved up throughout the day to cross the line 6th overall in 1:21:30 to close the gap on Mohegan. Matt Maynes also ran a smart race, saving his energy for the latter stages and was the fourth man for MRC when he rounded out the top ten overall with a 1:22:29 clocking. Kevin Cox closed the door on the scoring with a 14th place finish in 1:24:10 to give the MRC squad five runners before Mohegan’s third was across the line. MRC clocked a team time of just under 6 hours and 44 minutes while the Mohegan Striders finished in a time of 6:48:49.
The win gave the MRC Club its second consecutive CT Cup and extended the winning streak in USATF-CT competition to four races.
Supporting the scoring cast for MRC was Patrick Byrne and Mike McCall who each ran 1:32 and change. Tom Soisson was the top Master’s runner for MRC with a 1:49:09 clocking, Bob Gralton was 1:53:26 and Dave Grady finished in just over 2 hours.
Despite not fielding an official women’s team, Lanham Marks-Hamilton had a fantastic race and was the 13th female overall in 1:39:09 while Amira Lerario, coming off an injury, finished in 1:53:34.
The MRC Club will be back in action next weekend (March 2nd) for the USATF-CT Grand Prix. The WPLR ShamRock ‘n Roll represents the associations 5k championship and the men will look to defend their title, while the women look to stay in the top three in the state.