Cuneo finishes strong to win Half at the Hamptons
By Dan Doyon
Hampton Union, February 24, 2014
[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
More than 1,000 runners completed the Half at the Hamptons
Half Marathon in Hampton Beach on Sunday.
HAMPTON BEACH — Garry Cuneo's lead was brief, but it came at the right time.
Cuneo and Nacho Hernando had spent the majority of Sunday's Half at the Hamptons Half Marathon chasing Derrick Hamel when the pair finally passed him late in the race. Cuneo, 28, of Groveland, Mass., took his only lead with a half-mile left and preserved it to cross the finish line first ahead of 1,093 finishers in a time of 1 hour, 13 minutes and 55 seconds.
"I felt good and I noticed (Hamel) was fading around (mile) 11, and me and Nacho looked at each other and said, 'We can do this,'" Cuneo said. "At the beginning of (mile) 12, I closed that gap to about 100 meters and then I ran the last mile in 5:20, so I was able to close the gap. So I actually didn't take the lead until (the) 12½ (mile mark)."
Cuneo finished fourth in the only other time ran this race, in 2008.
Hernando won more than 10 races in 2013 to claim the title of New Hampshire Runner of the Year. The 20-year old from Concord finished in second place (1:14:10), while Hamel, 30, of Northwood, placed third (1:14:14).
The top local finisher was 24-year old Colby Nixon of Eliot, Maine, who finished in sixth place (1:17:21).
Carrie Corbett, 26, of Wallingford, Conn., returned to her home state to claim victory on the women's side. The 2005 graduate of Concord High School won the race in a time of 1:22:51. She was followed by 33-year old Katie Misuraca (1:23:36) of Gloucester, Mass., and 35-year old Tara Paulin (1:26:38) of Beverly, Mass.
"I'm really excited because I haven't run under 1:25:00 in three years," Corbett said. "I'm training to run (the Boston Marathon) and I want to run 2:51:00 there, so I'm right on track."
Cuneo and Hernando worked with each other from the start of the race and ran a fast first mile (5:20), but both decided that was too fast so they settled on a pace about 15-20 seconds slower over the next few miles.
That's when Hamel took advantage and flew past the duo, and Cuneo had questions whether or not he'd be able to catch him.
"In mile 5, we were like, 'He looks way too strong,'" Cuneo said. "There were points when we though he was running a workout, because there points where he would pull away from us.
"But we stuck to our strategy. I had never seen Nacho run, but I've seen his times, so it was great to work with him the whole race. He led, I led, and he actually did more of the work for me."
Hernando entered his first half-marathon of his career hoping it would be good training for next weekend's U.S. Snowshoe Championships at Prospect Mountain in Woodford, Vt. Herndando is in his senior season running for the New Hampshire Technical Institute in Concord.
"The last mile, (Cuneo) and I were pacing off each other, and the last mile he started pushing hard towards (Hamel) and I followed him," Hernando said. "(Cuneo) started pulling away from me in mile 12."
Cuneo's focus is now running in his first Boston Marathon in April. The 2008 Merrimack College graduate will have one more tune-up in the Eastern States 20-Miler on March 30.
"All eyes are on Boston," Cuneo said. "The marathon is a distance that eludes me; after about 20 miles, my body shuts down. I've been training real well, so I'm just trying to get there."
Corbett controlled the women's division from the start, even though she was slowed down by icy conditions in the first few miles.
"The whole time I felt like myself; I never felt like I was going too fast or too slow," Corbett said. "On the last stretch, I definitely hit the wall. The final stretch is certainly tough, because you can see the finish from three miles out and you have to remind yourself when to start sprinting."
Corbett also has the goal to qualify for the 2015 U.S. Olympic Trials for the marathon.
"Hopefully, I'll get there," Corbett said. "Right now, I'm far off, but we'll see."
Following Cuneo, Hernando and Hamel in the men's top 10 were Andrew Wagner (1:15:38) of Cambridge, Mass.; Lucas Pozzetta (1:16:20) of Merrimack; Nixon; Andy MacGibbon (1:17:58) of Goffstown; Michael Paulin (1:19:29) of Beverly, Mass.; Jeffrey Norcia (1:19:40) of Gilford; and Robert Ashby (1:20:02) of Brunswick, Maine.
Corbett, Misuraca, and Paulin were followed in the women's top 10 by Devin Nadar (1:28:39) of Cambridge, Mass.; Melissa Gymrek (1:30:43) of Cambridge, Mass.; Zuzana Trnovcova (1:31:04); Deidre Lowe (1:31:18) of Salem, Mass.; Amanda Gallagher (1:31:31) of Andover, Mass.; Carolyn Rebolz (1:32:23) of Stoneham, Mass.; and Kalli White (1:32:40).
Male age-group award winners were MacGibbon (19-and-under, 1:17:56); Nixon (20-24); Wagner (25-29); Norcia (30-34); Paulin (35-39); Michael Fraysse (40-44, 1:21:32) of Derry; Ashby (45-49); Patrick Connelly (50-54, 1:20:54) of Chester; Steve Seide (55-59, 1:32:45) of North Andover, Mass.; Perry Seagroves (60-64, 1:31:15) of Concord; Tom Walton (65-59, 1:37:46) of Contoocook; and Richard Paulsen (70-and-over, 1:49:33) of Woburn, Mass.
Female age-group award winners were Melissa Murray (19-and-under, 1:34:20) of Newfields; Nadar (20-24); Gymrek (25-29); Lowe (30-34); Mariana Lara Albert (35-39, 1:32:48) of Montpelier, Vt.; Kim McCracken (40-44, 1:35:12) of Durham; Janet Walker-Aronson (45-49, 1:35:38) of Longmeadow, Mass.; Carmela Taveras (50-54, 1:40:12) of Tewksbury, Mass.; Doreen O'Connell (55-59, 1:45:47) of Candia; Janet Parkinson (60-64, 2:00:38) of Portsmouth; Elizabeth Gonnerman (65-69, 1:53:48) of Hanover; and Polly Kenniston (70-and-over, 2:21:16) of Westbrook, Maine.