Only a few days after the official first day of spring, runners and walkers from near and far gathered at Sachuest Beach in Middletown to kick of the spring racing season.
The Aquidneck 10K, presented by NPT Healthworks and Fitzpatrick Team of Remax Newport, sold out before the event day at 750 runners/walkers. Presenting sponsors NPT Newport and Fitzpatrick Team fielded a number of runners in the race, as well as provided post-race services and fun.
The 10K, which benefitted the Norman Bird Sanctuary and was produced by Gray Matter Marketing, kicked off at 10AM sharp on Sachuest Point Road. The course then took participants along hanging rock road, up Indian Avenue to Peckham Ave. and Vaucluse Ave., before returning to Indian Ave. and finally third beach road for an out-and-back leg to the end of Sachuest Point Road. The event raised several thousand dollars for the Norman Bird Sanctuary in support of their land conservation efforts.
Ross MacAndrew, from East Greenwich, Rhode Island won the race, finishing the 6.2 miles in a blistering 32 minutes and 16 seconds (roughly 5:11/mile). MacAndrew is a leader in the local racing scene, having won a number of local races including the 2018 Amica Newport Half Marathon. “It’s a good course, it’s a little hilly but you really get to fly at some parts,” said MacAndrew of the brand-new race course. “Once you get to the end, it’s flat and you can fly. You get a little bit of everything. I can’t look around too much because its distracting, but it really is beautiful.”
MacAndrew took the lead from the beginning of the race and never let up on the competition. “I look around in the beginning to assess who is here, who I know who can push it,” he says. “I’m getting back into race mode now so that I can run Boston in a few weeks. I took it slow in the beginning, but I wanted to take off, so I pushed it.”
Adrian Massie, the 2017 Newport 10 Miler winner who is also a Newport, Rhode Island native, finished second behind MacAndrew at 37:04, followed by Robert Corsi, from Warwick, Rhode Island in 40:02.
Diane Senecal, from Narragansett, Rhode Island took first place for the women, charging across the line in 42:44. Senecal, who participated in the race with a few of her training partners from the Narragansett Running Club. The nurse practitioner and mother of three was in the midst of a 20-mile training run, and ran the race in the middle for some extra fun. “We’re training for the fun of it, we like it because we can eat a lot,” says Senecal, who said her pre-race meal was KFC. “This was absolutely gorgeous. I loved the challenge. The water, the beautiful homes, it was just beautiful. The volunteers were amazing — and a little girl named Victoria on the course even gave me her hairband because mine broke!”
Jaqueline Shakar, from Sutton Massachusetts and a frequent Rhode Island race podium finisher, came across the finish line in 44:08. Joy Connell, from Middletown, Rhode Island, rounded out the top three women with a time of 44:29.
It certainly was a great running community event, with more than 630 runners and walkers ultimately completing the course. Lizzie Benestad, a teacher at Portsmouth Abbey and a running coach at the local Anchor Leg Running participated with a number of her athletes. “The course was great. I maintained my effort on the uphills, and really enjoyed the downhills to let me push the pace.” For Benestad, running locally and training local runners is a passion. “When I was coming down third beach road, and I looked out at the water, I thought ‘this is so great that I get to live here, run here and race here.’”
Gray Matter Marketing plans to announce a 2020 date soon.