The number of finishers of last Saturday’s 35th Londonderry Old Home Day Lundgren 5K Road Race was down a bit from the 2013 event’s tally of 288. But the weather was magnificent, the competition excellent, and the majority of folks – including race director Larry Martin – walked away pleased.
Twenty-year-old Londonderry High graduate and Wheaton College undergrad Andreas Geiger led the crowd of 221 finishers to the finish line, covering the 5K distance in a fine 17 minutes and 22 seconds. Runner-up and present Londonderry Lancer Noah Schrank was a mere eight seconds behind Geiger in the second overall spot.
The first five finishers of the most recent Old Home Day race were current or former LHS Lancers, with teens Cam Dickson and Jared Kane third and fourth respectively, and 1984 Londonderry High grad Dave Beauley – who has been the top New Hampshire finisher in the Boston Marathon several times – fifth overall.
Those males were followed by defending 2013 women’s champ and Pinkerton Academy teacher and coach Amy Bernard from Hampstead. She repeated as the female champion by finishing sixth overall with her time of 18:45.
Race champion Geiger did his training in anticipation of the Old Home Day race with running partner and 2013 champ Damon Kilgore, and the Wheaton junior felt good about his chances of finishing first this time around after being the runner-up last summer.
“I was able to improve my time by 20 seconds and win it,” said Geiger. “And this win is special to me because this is my hometown race.”
Women’s champ Bernard – who was a fine cross-country and track athlete in her student days at Pinkerton – was looking at the 2014 Old Home Day race as a tune-up for her first run at Manchester’s Derryfield Park since those high school days.
Because there were so many strong young female runners in the race, Bernard said prior to the event that she thought it would be hard to repeat her successful 2013 performance. But that’s just what she did.
“I’m not old, but there were a lot of good young runners here today and I don’t take winning for granted,” she said. “I haven’t done a 5K in a while, but this is a race I love.”
Many Londonderry residents showed up in the division winners’ rankings, including Cailin Borovicka in the 12-and-under girls’ category, Kalin Gregoire among the 13-16-year-old females, Natalie Howes in the 17-19 ladies’ class, Michelle Harrison among the 40-49 women, Nancy Peabody in the 50-59 ladies’ division, and Sachiko Burkinshaw among the 70- to 79-year-old women.
Male divisional winners hailing from Londonderry included Matt Griffin (12-and-under), Schrank (13-16), Josh Leahy (17-19), Geiger (20-29), former LHS running star Todd Swenson (30-39), Beauley (40-49), Russ Lagueux (50-59), and John Loker (70-79).
The two oldest competitors in the race – 83-year-old Len Ritterberg of Salem and 89-year-old Lou Peters from Methuen, Mass. – finished first and second respectively in the men’s 80-105 class and drew the admiration of all in attendance.
The existing course records have now stood for many years, with Dave Dunham’s male record of 14 minutes and 44 seconds having been set in 1991, and female record holder Maribel Sanchez having set her mark of 17:35 in 2000. Neither mark was threatened in the 2014 race.
The popular event’s course takes participants through some of the most historic streets and country sites found in Londonderry. It begins on Mammoth Road in front of the Grange Hall, proceeds south to Peabody Row, onto Buttrick Road, and returns back to Grange Hall for the finish.