Dan Brien wins the Green Mile and Michelle Kroboth is the top finisher for the women.
PITTSFIELD -- At least it was only a mile.
That was the silver lining to running the Green Mile road race in sweltering temperatures during the city's second Third Thursday of the year on North Street.
"It makes it feel like your chest is on fire," said Dalton's Tim Drake, 52. "You know it's only going to be for seven or eight minutes."
The short distance made the heat perhaps bearable for the 180 runners who finished the fourth annual event. Pittsfield High's Dan Brien won it in 4 minutes, 45 seconds, just four seconds clear of Tim Van Orden of Bennington, Vt. Michelle Kroboth of Pittsfield was the top female, finishing in 22nd with a time of 5:32. Drake was 61st in 6:37.
Brien said having run meets like the Western Massachu setts Track and Field championships in high temperatures helped him on Thursday.
"I've been kind of used to it for this time period," Brien said. "It was going pretty fast out of the start. People were starting to fall back behind because of the heat, probably. Once it came down to the last, probably 600 or so, there was only a couple of us."
Jim Preite was thinking about the heat before the race. The North Adams resident, who finished 10th in 5:20, was pondering the right pace. He said the key was to get off fast enough to not fall too far behind in such a short race but also have enough left to finish strong.
"I usually listen to my breathing," Preite said. "I try not to get where I'm gasping for air too much. I just save it towards the end."
Kent Lemme and Shiobbean Archey, who run both the race and the Berkshire Running Center, said they were happy with the turnout. 212 runners registered but only 180 competed. That's on pace with two years ago but down from last year's event.
Thursday's run was the first time the Green Mile used chip timing, which allowed the results to be posted almost instantly. Not only was there a tight race for first, but Kroboth just barely beat out another Pittsfield High student, Lauren Farry, by two seconds for the women's crown.
"It's fun," Kroboth said. "It's a fun race. It's not often that you get to run down North Street and not have to deal with cars. It's always a good time."
Both Lemme and Archey were smiling, too, after months of planning ended with a race that was over in about five minutes. While the short distance may have made the race easier to run in the heat, it's also something Lemme is enthusiastic about.
"It's one of those things that everybody talks about their mile pace," Lemme said. "No matter what race they run they want to know their mile pace. Everything you do it's all relative to your mile pace. I think people just want to know, how fast can I run just one mile?"
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