Photo Gallery | Photos of Memorial Day Races at Tanglewood
LENOX -- The challenging courses for Sunday's fifth annual Memorial Day Marathon, Half Marathon and the Tangle wood 10K and 5K races are known for their hilly terrain.
On a beautiful spring Sunday, hundreds of runners survived those hills to finish the race of their choice. Some ran for the personal challenge and others just for fun. While the top finishers are all avid runners, their performances weren't fueled by the desire to cross the finish line first.
The top female finisher in the marathon, Molly Evak of Pawcatuck, Conn., said she was just hoping to finish after having to drop out of the Maine Coast Marathon two weeks ago. Not only did she finish, her 3-hour, 7-minute, 57-second time broke the old female course record of 3:23.45 set in 2010. She also had the day's second-best overall time.
"I dropped out at 17 [miles] with stomach issues [in Maine], so I said ‘I have to find another one,' " Evak said. "I chose this race because I love the Berkshires. I knew it was going to be a beautiful race and I just wanted to finish."
While Evak accomplished her goal of finishing, men's winner Richard Messineo of Nassau, N.Y., was happy just to be able to run in the race.
Five years ago, at the first Memorial Day race, Messineo was forced to drop out after 13 miles. He spent time in the hospital with a heart condition before eventually making a full recovery. Messineo said he used the past uncertainty over his running future to fuel himself to the finish line.
"The first 15 miles are OK and after that, it's Hell," said Messineo, who finished in 2:53.56. "It's hilly, up and down, and you can't ever catch your breath."
For men's half-marathon winner Brian Tinger (1:23.43), the race offered him a chance to return home to the Berkshires. Tinger, who lives in Beverly on Boston's North Shore, grew up in Pittsfield and graduated from St. Joseph.
"My parents are still [in the Berkshires], so it seemed like a good excuse to come out for a beautiful weekend," he said.
Tinger said the race was a great way to spend his Memorial Day weekend.
"It's amazing to have this atmosphere," he said. "Seeing this many people show up for a race that's only been around a couple years ... It's really one of my favorite races. I'm impressed with the organization of it."
The motivation of a friend led Erin Engstrom, of Albany, N.Y., to enter the half marathon. Jeff Mayo wanted to challenge himself to a half marathon, and after deciding on the Memorial Day Race, he said he wanted Engstrom there for support.
Engstrom said she runs daily, but had not run in a serious competition in almost 10 years. You wouldn't have known that was the case as she raised her arms in triumph, crossing the finish line as the first female finisher. She finished in 1:37.23 and was 12th overall.
"I got my friend [Jeff] to start running and I said, ‘If you sign up, I'll run it.' I figured I'd drive with him here and motivate him. That's why I came."
Engstrom said the hills made finding the right pace very important. After being away from competitive running, she wasn't sure how she would pace the race. After a fast start, she decided to slow down, and the mid-race adjustment helped her reach her goal of finishing in faster than 1:40.
"At 11 miles it's straight uphill," she said. "I hit [a wall] there, but I also hit [a wall] at four miles. I said ‘I'm running too fast if I'm going to reach my goal.' "
Brandon Williams, of Pittsfield, finished first in the 5K with a 18:33 time. Amanda Wright of New York City was the top female finisher in 20:11. She was fourth overall.
Jaime Julia, of Albany, N.Y., won the 10K in 34:10. Martine Nash was the first female finisher (45:46). She finished eighth overall.
Top Marathon finishers
1. Richard Messineo 2:53.56; 2. Molly Evak 3:07.57; 3. Mariah Tinger 3:13.09; 4. Thomas Jones 3:18.14; 5. Peter Dobrowolski 3:18.17; 6. Caleb Snyder Di Cesa 3:21.33; 7. Jason Meeks 3:25.51; 8. Alex Teicheira 3:28.32; 9. Douglas McAvoy 3:28.42; 10. Arturo Jaras Watts 3:28.45.
Top Half Marathon finishers
1. Brian Tinger 1:23.43; 2. Ryan Hudyncia 1:28.26; 3. Mickel McClish 1:31.34; 4. Luke Breslin 1:32.04; 5. Anthony Grecco 1:32.31; 6. David Oelberg 1:33.00; 7. Brent Wasser 1:33.13; 8. Kevin Crealese 1:33.21; 9. Steve O'Donnell 1:36.55; 10. Allan Bates 1:37.14.
Top 5k finishers
1. Brandon Williams 18:33; 2. Ian Wright 18:58; 3. Theo Dassin 19:45; 4. Amanda Wright 20:11; 5. Gregory Fournier 20:45; 6. Chris Najimy 20:53; 7. Douglas Green 20:56; 8. Brendan Murray 21:39; 9. William Crail 21:42; 10. David Brodsky 21:44.
Top 10k finishers
1. Jaime Julia 34:10; 2. Erik Joslyn 36:30; 3. Michael Caeran 41:23; 4. Evan Gaffnen 41:36; 5. Morgan Williams 42:34; 6. Joshua Heath 42:40; 7. Reed Juckett 44:39; 8. Martine Nash 45:46; 9. Karin George 45:56; 10. Eric Smith 46:02.
To reach Akeem Glaspie:
or (413) 496-6252.
On Twitter: @THEAkeemGlaspie.