ANDOVER – A couple of local track stars in their mid-20s each decided to finally run their first Feaster Five Road Race with 9,304 other runners and walkers in downtown Andover yesterday.
They not only got perfect running weather in November, but they won.
Eric McDonald, of Plaistow, N.H. and Christina Supino, of Windham, N.H., both 25, had heard about the famous Thanksgiving Day race, which began in 1988, but for some reasons never gave it a shot until yesterday.
McDonald coasted to the win at 16:15 (course record is 15:10 by Pat Fullerton) while Supino finished ahead of two women at 18:37 in the 5K race.
Alex Kramer of North Andover at 16:43 and Chris Brown of Chelmsford at 16:48 rounded out the Top 3 in the men's race while Emily Jones (18:49) of Concord and Anna Willard (18:52) of Lowell finished in second and third respectively.
"I've lived in the area my entire life and heard so much about the race," said McDonald. "I'm getting ready for the Boston Marathon (in April) and thought this would be a nice run. It was, though I was hurting a bit. I wanted to see what I had. It was nice to win."
Supino, who is also 25, is a graduate of Dartmouth University and lives in Burlington, Vt. while taking classes at the University of Vermont. She is hoping to get into medical school next fall.
"I've always run the track," said Supino. "I ran the mile and 800 (meters) in college. I never really considered distances like this. I figured I'd push myself a bit here. I heard some boys talking about running in about 18 minutes, which is the pace I wanted to run. So I stayed close with them. It was fun to push myself a bit."
The 5-mile race was standard stuff, with defending champs Ruben Sanca, of Lowell, and Catherine Beck, of Clinton, N.Y., repeating yesterday.
Sanca, who runs for Whirlaway Racing, finished in 24:34, besting Neal Darmondy of Groton (25:20) and Kerwin Vega of N.Y. City (25:22). This is his third straight win in the five mile race.
"It was hard running alone," said Sanca, 28, who took off at the start and was never challenged. "The weather was as good as it gets this time of year. I would rather have a small group of guys with about one mile to go."
Beck, who finished second two years ago, is a native of Brookline, N.H., and spends time with family in Topsfield every Thanksgiving. She was pleased with her race yesterday.
"I was hurt after last year's (Feaster Five)," said Beck, 30, who runs for the New York City Athletic Club. "I love this race. It's so much fun. I ran with a great pack of guys. They were pushing me."
Drone crashes into racers
ANDOVER – Shortly after the Feaster Five Road Race kicked off, a drone used to capture video of the race the last two years clipped a branch and crashed onto a racer near the middle of the large pack on Main Street in Andover.
According to race director Dave McGillivray, one runner suffered only a minor cut to a finger.