By KEVIN ROBERTS
Gray skies and cool temperatures greeted the over 1,750 people that took part in the 40th Apple Harvest Festival Road Races this past Sunday. A majority of those participants, 1,014 to be exact, ran in the 5K race, and that included Southington native Nicholas Lanigan.
About a year ago, Lanigan relocated from Southington to southern California. When he came back this past Sunday for the road races, there was no sun and warm temperatures. Lanigan didn’t seem to mind.
“It was nice running weather. I relocated about a year ago to southern California, so I’ve been out there for about a year. It was a little shock to the system,” Lanigan said.
Once Lanigan got going, however, there was no stopping the 41-year-old. Lanigan was the first runner to finish the 5K race, and he did so in 19:24.
“I just took off. I didn’t expect to win, but it was good,” Lanigan said. “It was a good race, it was fun.”
West Hartford’s Molly Chambers was the first female to finish the 5K race, doing so in fourth place in 20:16. The second female to finish the 5K race was Southington sophomore girls soccer player Abbie Flanigan. Flanigan was the first soccer player to cross the line, which earned her the Chris Sanchez Award. Flanigan was the third female to finish the 5K race last year.
“I started out with my soccer team, then I just kind of took my own pace,” Flanigan said. “I wasn’t
expecting to [finish second].”
Flanigan finished 29th overall in a time of 22:22. She reached a point in the race where she just decided to take off.
“I just felt like I could go faster, so I kind of just went at my own pace,” Flanigan said. “I knew I was eventually going to go at my own pace, but I kind of just started earlier this year.”
Matt Walker, a Newington resident and former Southington runner, took first in the five-mile race in 25:07. His 5:01 pace over the five-mile course enabled him to beat his closest competitor by almost three minutes.
“Oh my gosh it’s great,” race director John Myers said when asked about having the former Southington resident Lanigan win the 5K race. “And even Matt, who won the five-miler, is an old Southington guy.”
Myers said the 1,768 participants was the second highest number in road race history. The highest number is still 1,974 in 2014. Myers saw the cool conditions as a benefit.
“There was a great buzz when we came into today. Everyone was just ready,” Myers said. “I think when you get a weather day like today, everyone feels good.”
Myers continued: “Just hearing people while milling around, a lot of people were saying hey I got a PR today or that was the fastest I’ve ever run here.”
Southington’s Kristin Lopa was the first female to finish the five-mile race, which she did in 33:05 to place 19th overall.
There were over 150 volunteers who helped run the road race, Myers said. The Southington cross country team again lent its support while the Southington Police Department kept everyone safe, Myers said. Myers also lauded the efforts of the Southington YMCA staff and the over 35 local sponsors that supported the effort.
“It was very inspiring to see community groups represented at our race,” Myers said. “From Team Lauryn to Team Adam & Jim to Team SMSAA to our local SHS soccer team.”
5 Mile Road Race
Walker outdistanced John Longo (27:56) and Kieran Condon (29:13) to win the title in the men’s race. Division winners for the men were Henry Cookson (9 and Under), Carson Zielinski (10-15), Tim Chambers (20-29), William Flugrad (30-39), Mario Longo (40-49), Mark Reider (50-59), John Canora (60-69), James Pashley (70-79), and Tom Butterfield (Over 80).
Lopa edged Larissa Giordano (33:34) and Vanessa Greaney (34:37) to capture the women’s title. Division winners for the women were Claire Tardif (10-15), Catherine Myers (20-29), Christie Kania (30-39), Jessica Crandall (40-49), Diane Snow (50-59), Emma Dean (60-69), and Ginny Chambers (70-79).
Bill Zielinski and Lopa earned the Dave Gworek Memorial Award as the fastest Southington finishers.
5K Road Race
Lanigan beat Justin Perugini (19:45) and Albert Gorski (20:13) to win the men’s title. Division winners for the men were Trey Hall (10 and Under), Tim Terry (11-13), Ryan Salzillo (14-16), Jacob Holbrook (17-19), Jaime Vega (20-29), Charlie Belvin (30-39), Michael Delgrego (40-49), Michael Perkowski (50-59), Kevin McNamara (60-69), David Tellerico (70-79), and James Driscoll (80 and Over).
Chambers outdistanced Flanigan and Rachele Patringnelli (22:32) to win the women’s title. Division winners for the women were Alannah Terry (10 and Under), Mariams Labadze (11-13), Sofia Scalise (14-16), Callie Godfrey (17-19), Emma Poulshock (20-29), Jackie Birge (30-39), Krystin Monahan (40-49), Luanne Borawski (50-59), Joan LaPierre (60-69), Linda Rocco (70-79) and Elizabeth Lazor (80 and Over).
South End runner Chase Kastner had the fastest time in the 5th grade boys competition to claim the Y Cup. Thalberg runner Nicholas Dura won the Y Cup for the fourth grade boys.
South End runner Rachel Alejandro had the fastest time in the 5th grade girls competition to claim the Y Cup. Derynoski runner Trisha Corrado won the Y Cup for the fourth grade girls.
Flanigan captured the Chris Sanchez Award as the top finisher among SHS soccer players.
To comment on this story or to contact sports writer Kevin Roberts, email him at KRoberts@SouthingtonObserver.com.
Photos by JOHN GORALSKI