Mystic Places Marathon
October 24, 2004
Race Report by Bob Dolphin
When I run the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, DC, Lenore and I like
to include a marathon in a new state, as well, on the trip to the East
Coast. Last year we added Maryland (Baltimore Marathon) to our state
list, and two years ago I ran my first marathon in Virginia (the inaugural
Bay Bridge Marathon at Virginia Beach).
This year Connecticut was added as I ran and Lenore volunteered. It was
the Mystic Places Marathon at East Lyme by the coast in the southeastern
part of the state. Mystic Places refers to Mystic Seaport and Old Mystic
Village, historic attractions of the region.
The race was held on Sunday, October 24, 2004, with race headquarters,
number and chip pickup, the Expo, and the start-finish in the Rocky Neck
State Park by the seashore.
Our friend Dana Mosell, a Fifty Stater and L.A. Legger from Walnut, CA (in
southern California), and Lenore coordinated our respective travel plans
for this marathon. On the day before the race we met at the motel that we
shared and then drove to the park to pick up numbers, timing chips, event
T-shirts and to visit the tent-city Expo.
After we left the park, Dana drove us to the Hard Rock Cafe at the
Foxwoods Resort/Casino on the Mashantucket Indian Reservation for lunch
and shopping. Later, on a coastline drive we passed the University of
Connecticut in New London and the U.S. Submarine Base at Groton, adjacent
to the U.S.S. Nautilus Nuclear Submarine Museum.
On race day we arrived at the park early because Lenore was volunteering
at registration and number pickup. At 8:30 a.m., I went to see about ten
early marathon starters begin their race. In this group were Dana
(5:28:00) and our Chicago area friends and Fifty Staters, Lisa
Promenschenkel, 35, (6:09:00) and Gloria Aguilera, 50, (6:16:39). Lisa
had run our YAKIMA RIVER CANYON MARATHON in 2002 and is the participant in
the video who did cartwheels across the finish line!!
Other Fifty Staters whom we met or saw this weekend were Edsen Sanches,
54, of New York City, NY, (4:24:57) who ran his 284th marathon, Francesco
Criniti, 60, (3:52:31) of Philadelphia, PA, Bruce Goulast, 54, of Newtown,
CT (4:51:45), and Al Becken, 75, of San Antonio, TX.
At the 10:00 a.m. start for the marathoners, marathon relay team members
and 10 milers, the temperature was in the high 40's (and later did not
exceed the low 50's). It was overcast and windy to 20 mph along the
coast....but calm to light breezes inland. The terrain was flat to
rolling with only two major hills rising to 200 feet elevation. The
course had two loops early in the race. One was in the park and the other
was on a nearby peninsula. The rest of the course was out-and-back on a
two-lane state highway, county roads and shore roads to the coastal town
of Niantic where it turned back to finish at Rocky Neck State Park.
From a scenic viewpoint, this was a marvelous course. In the park and on
wooded county roads the sugar maples and red maples were at the peak fall
color of yellows, oranges and reds. There were many other deciduous
trees, shrubs and vines that also added color. The red-purple leafed
smooth sumac, yellow-leafed fox grape and bittersweet vines draped over
small tree canopies. Typical fall flowers were white, lavender and purple
asters and Canada Goldenrod.
The picturesque beach houses were similar to that of Cape Cod in
Massachusetts and on the West Coast in Oregon. Gulls were common and were
soaring with the winds. Offshore there were ships, sailboats, and a few
islands in sight.
With the out-and-back course layout, I saw the men and women leaders
swiftly racing by.....going in the opposite direction. African runners
were in first and third positions, and the first woman was in about sixth
place. I read a report in The Day, a local newspaper, about confusion at
the finish line as Zintu Meaza of Ethiopia, with a time of 2:20:59, won
the race that he had led throughout. Instead of being elated, he was
dejected. He thought that he had lost the race to another runner who
passed him at Mile 26 and finished with a 2:20:39. It was a tense moment
until the race officials at the finish could explain to Zintu that the
runner who passed him was a marathon relay runner who had run only a three
mile leg. Chad Johnson, running this 14:44 leg for the Mohegan Striders,
said that he pointed to his relay wristband as he passed Zintu, but this
didn't prevent the misunderstanding.
The second marathon finisher was Dzmitry Sivou of Belarus with a 2:25:56,
and Amos Gitagama of Kenya was third with a 2:33:49.
The first woman, finishing in 5th place overall, was Halina Karnatsevich
of Belarus (2:48:33) followed by Maria Bychkova (2:52:04) and Elvira
Kolpakova (2:52:04), friends from Russia who ran together. Prize money
was available to the top men and women with the overall winners each
At the other end of the age group spectrum, there was at least one
surprise in the 70-79M division. Because runners in their early 70's had
come in ahead of me in the previous three marthons that I had run, I
expected the same to happen at Mystic Places as well. On the list of
seven entrants in this group were two 70 year olds, one 71 year old and Al
Becken's name. Al has run faster in two of the three races where we've
competed in recent years. The awards went three deep, so I thought I'd be
out of the running.
My race performance was average, and I didn't expect much. On the
out-and-back passings, I saw several veteran runners in front of me whose
ages could be in the 70's. I worked to keep moving in the last 10K and
passed some younger runners. As I finished in the park, the clock showed
4:39:04 (adjusted to chip time of 4:38:56). I was pleasantly surprised
that the race results had me in first place in the 70-79M Division. In
second was Milton Taylor, 71, of Odenton, MD, with a 4:42:33.....followed
by Byron Parker, 70, of Welwyn, United Kingdom, 4:44:10. I had lucked
out!! The awards for the divisions were red sports shirts with the Mystic
Places Marathon logo.
The only division award winner whom I knew personally was Francesco
Criniti who ran 3:52:31 for second in the 60-69M division.
Stephanie Holan, 27, of Seattle (4:39:42) introduced herself to Lenore and
me in the finish area. She remembered seeing me at the inaugural City of
Trees Marathon in 2002 in Boise, Idaho, as she ran her first marathon.
This day she finished her third marathon and was full of enthusiasm about
Thanks go to race director John Bysiewicz, Mike Walsh, the race committee
and the many volunteers who made this marathon weekend a great success.
The Mystic Places Marathon is one that I'd like to run again.
Written by Bob Dolphin