For the second year in a row, an Ethiopian man and woman crossed the finish line first. The female winner also set a course record for the second consecutive year.
Etalemahu Habtewold crossed the finish line in 33 minutes and 10 seconds- four seconds under last year's course record of 33 minutes and 14 seconds. Her teammate Genet Beyene finished 4 seconds behind her, tying last year's course record.
The women ran together for most of the race, before the 25 year old Habtewold, pulled ahead of her 20 year old teammate over the last mile. Ironically, they raced together at the Shamrockrun 8K in New Orleans last weekend, where Beyene finished 4 seconds ahead of her teammate. They respectively finished in fifth and sixth place in that race.
Goshu Frehiwat, another Ethiopian woman, finished third with a time of 34 minutes and 59 seconds. Apryl Sabadosa of Westfield finished fourth and was the top local female. She finished 3 seconds ahead of fifth place finisher Amanda Wright of Acton, Mass.
The men's race wasn't decided until just past mile 4. A pack of 3 runners, including the eventual winner Haile Mengesha, ran together for the first 3 miles. The other two men, Jaouad El Jazouli, and Marouad Marofit, are Moroccan teammates. This was reportedly El Jazouli's first race in the United States.
Mengesha and Marofit had also raced last weekend in New Orleans. The 29 year old Mengesha who finished 3rd at last weekend's race, was not as weary as the 33 year old Marofit, who finished fifth in last weekend's 8K. Marofit dropped off the pack just past mile 3, where Homestead Avenue starts to incline.
At mile 4, as Mengesha and El Jazouli turned the corner off Homestead onto Cherry Hill, Mengesha turned it on. He covered the downhill mile in 4 minutes and 9 seconds to pull ahead by 50 yards. He cruised to the finish in 29 minutes and 58 seconds.
Perhaps no runners had more fun than those who finished around the 51-minute mark. Bill Rodgers, the three-time Holyoke winner, three-time New York City and Boston Marathon winner and former top ranked marathoner; and Steve Jones the former Olympian and world marathon record holder ran together and finished in just under 51 minutes.
To run with those legends will be an experience those runners will never forget.
The first female to cross the finish line set a new female course record for the second consecutive year.
Etalemahu Habtewold crossed the finish line in 33 minutes and 10 seconds- four seconds under last year’s course record of 33 minutes and 14 seconds. Her teammate Genet Beyene finished 4 seconds behind her, tying last year’s course record.
Bill Foley of Springfield describes himself as a “former weekend warrior.” The 61-year-old school administrator now runs only one race a year – the St. Patrick’s Road Race.
Having formerly worked for former Holyoke mayor Martin Dunn, Foley said he “has affection for the City of Holyoke.” He will be running with the Dunn again this year, and their goal is “to finish before the Mummer’s Parade on Sunday!”
Patrick Kennedy of Springfield says “this may be my last race.” The 74-year-old retired sheriff’s department employee is a typical St. Pat’s runner. He started attending for the social aspect of the race, and running each year just “became a ritual.“
Longmeadow’s John Skypeck is more reflective of his 40 years of Holyoke. The 65-year-old commercial real estate broker grew up in the Paper City. Skypeck, who still runs a few select races each year, says the course is littered with memories of his youth, including passing his grandparents’ old home.
For Skypeck, and many others, the course is a stroll down memory lane.
This years Holyoke St. Patrick's Road Race is dedicated to founding Committee member James Joseph Tierney.
Dan Tierney, a six-decade member of the Holyoke St. Patrick's Parade committee.
“This race came at an ideal time. It’s a great course - a miniature Boston. There were a lot of people out there watching considering the weather. I guess this town goes crazy for St. Patrick’s Day.” - John Treacy