By Chris Lotsbom, @ChrisLotsbom
BOSTON, MA (25-Oct) -- Using strong surges in the final mile, Oregon's Trevor Dunbar and Boston's own Liz Costello claimed titles here at the 25th annual Boston Mayor's Cup Cross Country meet, held at iconic Franklin Park. The meet, organized by the Boston Athletic Association and USATF New England with support from adidas, took place on a chilly, damp, and windy morning -- making for a true cross country event.
Mayor's Cup top three: Liz Costello - first place; Liv Westphal - second place; and Mary Cain - third place. - Photo: BAA
In the Women's Championship 5K, Costello --who lives and trains in the city under Olympian Mark Coogan-- quickly found her place up front alongside Mary Cain and former Boston College Eagle Liv Westphal, a Frenchwoman. The dynamic trio split one mile in 5:13.
Aware of Cain's ability to succeed at all distances and Westphal's experience on the Franklin Park course, Costello wanted to make the race a true grind-it-out affair. She'd frequently inject surges hoping to break her competitors.
"I ended up taking the lead but I wasn't sure if that was going to be a good game plan because I knew the other girls are very talented and it was still pretty early in the race," said Costello, part of the leading trio at two miles in 10:37. "Because I still felt somewhat within myself, I thought 'all right, let's go for another mile and see how things go.'"
Ultimately, Costello's persistence would pay off. The 27-year-old continued to push through the Wilderness Loop, and re-emerged on The Playstead in front. Down the stretch, Costello powered home to finish first in 16:35, with Westphal taking second in 16:40 and Cain third in 16:46.
"It was a fight until the end. Everyone was really close and it was a really good race," said Costello. "It's definitely nice to have a confidence booster [here]... I think having some familiarity [with the course] was helpful today."
Traveling to Boston from her home in Bronxville, N.Y., Cain said she was pleased with the race. Since moving from Portland, Ore., back to Bronxville, the 19-year-old said she's hit the "reset" button. Speaking with enthusiasm, she noted that training has been going phenomenally well, and her time today was an indicator of great things to come.
"It was pretty authentic cross country which was nice! I was really proud of myself because I went into it really wanting to work the first two miles," she said. "The last mile I probably didn't quite have the strength, but for October 25, I know I'm in pretty good shape. I've never been in this kind of shape this early, so I'm pretty excited about that!
"I'm just excited to see my progress," Cain continued. "I think a lot of it has been going back to basics."
Winning the Women's team competition was New Balance Boston, scoring the minimum 15 points. Greater Boston Track Club and the B.A.A. took second and third with 60 and 87 points, respectively.
The Men's Championship 8K held extra special meaning today. This year's Boston Mayor's Cup Cross Country meet was dedicated to Cameron Bean, the 2013 champion who was tragically killed last month after being struck by a vehicle in Tennessee while running.
Along the course, every mile marker had a black circle with "CB -- Cameron Bean, 2013 Boston Mayor's Cup Champion" transcription to honor Bean. In addition, Bean's ZAP Fitness teammate Sarah Crouch started the men's race and held the ceremonial breaktape at the finish.
First to reach that breaktape would be Trevor Dunbar, racing for the first time at Franklin Park.
With a brisk but gusty wind blowing, Dunbar, New England Distance Project's Jimmy Spisak, former NCAA Division II national champion Tabor Stevens, and Dartmouth graduate Will Geoghegan established a strong front pack. Spisak, Dunbar, and Stevens took turns leading, keeping the tempo upbeat.
Of the group, Dunbar ran with a heavy heart and extra motivation hoping to claim the win. Recently, his grandmother Sylvelin Keller passed away at the age of 89. Immediately following the race, he'd board a plane to join his family in Minnesota.
Coming down Bear Cage Hill with less than a kilometer remaining, Dunbar accelerated with hopes of breaking Spisak. Entering the final straight with 200 meters left, Dunbar dug even deeper, separating from the taller Spisak.
Breaking the finish tape in 23:17 with arms in the air, Dunbar took the title and its $600 prize by three seconds over Spisak (23:20). Stevens rounded out the top three (23:17), followed by Geoghegan (23:39) and Ireland's Shane Quinn (23:55).
Speaking by phone from the airport, Dunbar reflected on the victory.
"She ran through my mind a few times and it was nice to compete for her. She's been in my memory and my thoughts for a while, so I dedicated that to her," said Dunbar. "I'm really happy to get the win. Returning to cross country was very fun."
A native of Alaska, Dunbar used today's race as a tune-up for the .US National Road Racing Championships in Virginia next month. Spisak and women's winner Costello plan to compete there.
"I'm excited, getting out there and competing again. Jimmy Spisak and Tabor Stevens made it a very honest, hard race, so I have to give them my respect and look forward to battling again," said Dunbar. "I was squeezing the trigger from a mile out... Once I got to the straightaway I had more gears to go to. It's nice to come away with the win."
New England Distance earned the Men's team title led by Spisak, scoring 35 points. Speed River New Balance TFC was second with 64 points, followed by New Balance Boston (91).
The Mayor’s Cup Cross Country races also included multiple youth events for local school and town clubs. Children raced a 1.1-mile course that included Bear Cage Hill.
Full results can be found on CoolRunning.com at the following link: CoolRunning.com.
For video coverage and photos from today's event, visit the B.A.A.'s Facebook page.