Members of the Greater Derry Track Club (GDTC) have long taken pride in the fact that year after year their group is competitive in the New Hampshire Grand Prix Racing Series.
The local club, which includes runners from throughout the area, is right in the mix for the Grand Prix title again this year.
The Grand Prix is an annual road running racing series for the running clubs of New Hampshire. Clubs compete against each other in a group of road races spread throughout the racing season. In addition, runners who complete every race in the series in a given year are granted the coveted “Granite Runner” status.
A total of eight races were chosen for the 2017 series, with five of them completed.
The locals – who regularly battle it out with The Gate City Striders based in Nashua and The Upper Valley Running Club based in Lebanon for the Grand Prix crown – posted the top team scores in the Red’s Shoe Barn 5-Meter Race for a Better Community in Dover in April and at the recent 50th Annual Bill Luti 5-Meter Race in Concord earlier this month.
In fact, the local club’s racers haven’t finished lower than second in any of the five races held thus far, but they’re looking up at the Gate City crew where point totals are concerned heading into race six – the 5K Run From the Law in Canaan – which is slated for August 6.
Gate City has posted a total of 761 points to lead the Grand Prix series after the first handful of races, with the GDTC second with a strong tally of 544.
The Greater Derry group had nearly 50 runners compete in the 2017 series-opening race – The Leprechaun Leap 5K – in mid-March in Nashua. But, the Gate City Striders were just too strong that day, taking nine of the top 13 finishing spots in notching an impressive team score of 203. The GDTC group tallied a score of 165, with team members Eddie Clements of Salem (14th), 12-year-old Luke Brennan from Derry (16th), J.D. Toscano from Salem (17th), and Nick Gregory from Derry (18th) all crossing the finish line among the top 20 runners.
But, on April 9 in the Red’s Shoe Barn race the Greater Derry team, which consisted of 27 competitors, came out on top among the Grand Prix teams with a score of 152. Gate City finished second with a 142.
Rick Bernard from Hampstead was the local group’s top finisher (17th overall) with Londonderry’s Mike Dufour finishing behind him in 22nd place and youngster Brennan ending up 24th overall.
Next up in the series was the Chief Maloney 10K Unity Run in Greenland on April 30, and the team scoring wound up being incredibly tight at that event.
Gate City took first, with a team score of 132, just three points ahead of the second place GDTC and Upper Valley contingents (129 each).
The Greater Derry crew consisted of 26 runners in that race, with Derry’s Charlie Bemis finishing a strong eighth overall, Amy Bernard of Hampstead (and Pinkerton Academy) ending up 16th, and Londonderry’s Dufour just one place behind her in 17th.
Race number four was the Gate City Half Marathon in Nashua on May 21, and the GDTC crew consisted of 22 runners that day. The Gate City Striders finished first with 141 points, with the locals second with a 125.
Bemis was the Greater Derry crew’s top finisher again that day (seventh), with Dufour next in 18th place and Gregory next in 22nd.
The most recent Grand Prix event was the Luti race in Concord on July 15, which was won by the Greater Derry group of 31 runners with its top score of 173. Gate City took second (143) and Upper Valley was third (135).
Gini Nichols from Candia and Lynne-Marie Fawcett of Chester each tallied 10 big points for the locals. So, with three series races remaining, the locals’ title hopes remain.