Bid Falls Short:
course record was threatened, a new name emerged in the women's
field, and there was a huge turnout, particularly among high
All things considered, yesterday's Greater Springfield Harriers
Fourth of July Road Race was one of the best since the 5K race
began 24 years ago.
Eric Lavigne's bid for the course record fell short by 15
seconds, and Yolanda Flamino cruised to a victory on the women's
Lavigne finished in 15 minutes, 16 seconds. Flamino, meanwhile,
won by over a minute in 17:18.
The race drew more than 350 runners, with 346 finishing. It was
the largest turnout since 1984.
Lavigne gave Brent Coon's and Dennis Cullinan's 1992 record of
15:00 a great run, especially since he ran more than half of the
"I was pretty confident (I could break the record),"
said Lavigne, 25, who lives in West Springfield. "Even at 2½
when my legs got tired, I thought I could pull it off. But my
legs were slowing down, and there was nothing I could do."
Lavigne, Neal Graves and Dave Cisewski blasted out at the start.
Cisewski intentionally dropped back three-quarters of a mile
into the race. Lavigne had a one step lead on Graves when the
two crossed the first mile in 4:51 —
putting the course record in jeopardy.
Lavigne slowly started to pull away from Graves as the runners
approached Columbus Avenue. Soon thereafter, Graves suddenly
stopped due to discomfort in his stomach, leaving Lavigne all
alone and chasing nine years of history.
The former All-New England runner at Trinity College continued
to hammer out a strong pace. He reached the second mile marker
in 9:42, as the record continued to be within reach.
But the hard pace finally caught up to Lavigne in the final
half-mile. Despite his screams, grunts and grimaces on Gridiron
Street and Main Street, Lavigne started to slow down, and the
record slipped away.
"I'll be back next year and take another crack at it,"
said Lavigne, who is trying to qualify for the Olympic Trials in
In a mad dash for second, Owen Washburn (16:03), David Burnham
(16:04) and Tom Bousquet (16:05) came in bang, bang, bang. Chris
Gould was fifth in 16:14.
Sandu Rebenciuc, last year's winner, jogged the course and
finished eighth in 16:37.
Nine of the top 21 runners were 18-years-old or younger, led by
the 17-year-old Washburn.
Flamino does most of her racing in the Boston area with her
Greater Lowell team. The Northampton resident completed her
graduate studies in May at Smith College, where she was the
assistant track & field and cross country coach.
"I've wanted to get back into running," said Flamino,
24. "But with so much going on I had to back off. Now I'm
back. I hope to do some cross country races in the fall at
Franklin Park (in Boston)."
Flamino covered the first mile in 5:26, and hit the second
marker in 11:02. The Ellington, Conn., native was only four
seconds off her personal-best."
"My best 5K time is 17:12, and I ran a 17:16 today, which
is good since I'm not in top shape," said Flamino, who
graduated from Trinity College in 1999.
Natalie Shea was second in 18:32, followed by Heather Wenninger
(18:39), Dana Hachigian (18:40) and Sidney Letendre (19:05).