A week and a half ago, Emilie Mondor couldn't run one step. That she could run 2 miles, competitively, in Thursday's Manchester Road Race was an accomplishment.
Mondor set the course record last year in 23 minutes, 59 seconds and became the first woman to run less than 24 minutes on the 4.748-mile course. But this year the Canadian had to drop out after 2 miles because of an ankle sprain sustained 10 days ago while training.
"I tried my best," said Mondor, 23, of British Columbia. "I was battling with [the leaders]. I pushed the pace."
She ran the first mile in 4:50 with eventual winner Kim Smith of New Zealand.
"It was a good pace, but it's a pace you cannot keep up if you're not ready," she said. "It's disappointing."
Mondor said she plans to return next year to try to set another record.
Encore For Plaiders
The Plaiders, who have worn plaid jackets, run and sung "Only You" to countless people at the road race for the last 22 years, left the baby jogger at home. Their lead singer, Steve Hancock of Bozrah, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in January but he was able to make it around the course unaided. Hancock, 56, ran most of the way, after the group got to the top of the Highland Street hill.
"It was a special day," Hancock said.
Hancock was initially planning to be pushed by his friends - fellow Plaiders Dean Festa of Montville, Pete Volkmar of New London and John Ficarra of Westerly, R.I. - in a baby jogger because recent chemotherapy treatments have fatigued him. Cold weather affects him as well, but it was relatively warm.
Another Plaider, Tommy Lee of Chester, hadn't run at Manchester in a while because he usually has to work Thanksgiving. But he came Thursday. People along the course made "get well" signs for Hancock.
"It was a little emotional," Festa said. "But it was good emotional."
After the race, Hancock, who wore a Red Sox cap, already was talking about next year's race.
"Next year if we do this ... " he started to say.
"You mean, next year when we do this," Lee corrected him.
Runs In The Family
Runners World executive editor Amby Burfoot, a nine-time winner, ran in his 42nd consecutive Manchester Road Race. He finished in 31:03, in 317th place.
"I ran fast this year," Burfoot said. "I'll tell you my new training secret. I got braces a year ago right after the race. It takes away the joy of eating, so I've lost 10 pounds. And that makes you faster."
Burfoot's nephew, Jeff Billing, has his own streak. Billing flew in from Palo Alto, Calif., arriving at 3 a.m. Thursday to run. He finished in 28:32, in 119th.
"He's got a 12- or 13-year streak," Burfoot said. "Everybody's going for it."
Karen Smyers, a former Ironman Triathlon champion, missed last year's road race because she was pregnant with her second child. Her son Casey is now 10 months old and Smyers, a Wethersfield native who lives in Lincoln, Mass., returned to win the women's 40-49 age group in 28:19. Smyers, 43, competed in the Hawaii Ironman this year, finishing 20th in 10:36:15. ... Mary Haines, 90, of Newington was one of the oldest competitors Thursday, finishing in 1:31:00. Haines started a half-hour early. Hugh Hamilton, 90, of South Yarmouth, Mass., finished in 1:41:26. ... Todd Brown, 40, of Rocky Hill ran in his 28th road race. He recalled his first at age 13: One had to be 14 to run, so his father, a printer, made him an official-looking race number. ... Bill Tribou, 83, of Granby, won his third 80-plus title in 46:20, beating 80-89 age group runner-up Robert Franklin of Manchester by almost 30 minutes. ... Plenty of costumes, including a jumpsuit-wearing Safety Man, Trot Nixon, hula girls, a skinny Santa Claus and a parrot.