By Chris Lotsbom, @ChrisLotsbom
NEW YORK (01-Jan) -- A pair of B.A.A. unicorns were spotted ringing in the New Year in style, sweeping victories here in Central Park at the 37th NYRR Midnight Run, held at the stroke of midnight. Sarah Pagano and Daniel Winn, both of whom represent the Boston Athletic Association, won the classic four-mile road race with times of 18:34 and 21:13, respectively, while teammate Katie Matthews was second for women.
As the crystal ball dropped over Times Square less than a mile away, thousands took off under a sky lit by fireworks. Pagano and Matthews quickly found themselves in the women's front pack, joined by NorCal Distance Project's Lianne Farber and The Heartbreakers's Rosa Moriello. By two and a half miles, Pagano and Matthews were alone out front.
Playing off their strengths just as they do in practice, Pagano and Matthews tackled the hills of Central Park as one.
"It's fun because we work together in all our workouts and we both have different strengths and weaknesses. Katie's really good at downhill running, I'm a little bit stronger on the uphills," said Pagano, a Syracuse University alum. "We definitely ran a lot faster than we would have if it was just one. That makes it really fun."
By the finish, Pagano had created a three second gap, winning the title in 21:13 over Matthews' 21:16. Close friends, the pair shared an embrace beyond the finish line.
"This is the first time I've run a New York Road Runners race and I was really excited to come down here," said Pagano, a native of Ringwood, N.J. "I'll start the year off with a win!
"She had a little bit more left at the end," added Matthews. "This race was about having fun and starting the year right. Our favorite thing to do is race and run, and why not kick off the New Year that way. Our plan was definitely to work together and I think we did that well."
Next up, Pagano will race at the Great Edinburgh Cross Country meet in Scotland on January 9. After that is the Aramco Houston Half-Marathon on January 17.
"This has been a fun experience, bringing in the New Year," Pagano said before turning her attention towards the upcoming races. "I love cross country, so that will be exciting. We have a quick turnaround to Houston after. But this was a good hard effort on a tough course, so it puts me in good shape to go out and do the hills on the cross country course."
Rounding out the top six were Farber (21:26); Moriello (21:34); British Olympian Lisa Dobriskey (22:27); and Cornell University Assistant Coach (and steeplechaser) Genna Hartung (22:49).
Daniel Winn Claims First Victory In B.A.A. Kit
The men's race rapidly developed while fireworks were still booming high above Central Park's landscape. The B.A.A.'s Winn led ZAP Fitness's Joe Stilin and The Heartbreakers' Louis Serafini by the first turn some 200 meters into the race.
Staying patient, Winn subsequently let Stilin and Serafini manage the pace before squeezing down the gas pedal. A mile specialist, Winn knew that if the race came down to the final kilometer he'd have the advantage.
"Joe pushed the pace early and I like to think a kick is my strong-suit, so I tried to just be really patient and take the uphills as easy as I possibly could while staying with it," Winn said. "When Louis hadn't broken me by the end, I kind of let the hill open my stride up and I kind of looked back in the final stretch and saw some space. I was able to enjoy the homestretch."
Though Stilin and Serafini put up valiant efforts, it was Winn prevailing with a smile. He'd break the tape in 18:34, solidifying his first victory in the B.A.A.'s classic yellow kit.
"My first win in a B.A.A. uniform! Great way to start the new year," Winn proclaimed. For his victory, Winn got a glass clock trophy and earned $500 in prize money, plus a $100 time bonus for breaking 19-minutes.
Since graduating from the University of Oregon last spring, Winn has had consistent success under coach Terrence Mahon. Recently he finished sixth at both the Manchester Road Race on Thanksgiving and at the USA National Club Cross Country Championships, before winning here tonight. Despite his improvement at distances in excess of 5-K, Winn scoffs at the idea of becoming a long distance runner.
"I've always found [distance] a lot more fun than a lot of other milers would. With that being said, I can't wait to get back on the track," Winn said with a laugh. "My next race will be a track race, and I'm looking forward to that. As much as I enjoy these, this [distance] is for the winter and fall. Now it's time for track stuff."
Placing second was Serafini, a 24-year-old Boston College graduate who lives in the Brighton section of Boston. Coming off a year that saw him qualify for the Olympic Marathon Trials, Serafini said his runner-up showing here was another confidence builder.
"It was fun to mix it up with those guys up front," said Serafini. "2015 was a huge breakthrough year for me, so it's cool to keep the ball rolling into next year and keep improving. I have nothing else on the schedule [aside from the Olympic Marathon Trials on February 13 in Los Angeles]. This was kind of halfway through to see where I was at. I'm looking forward to the rest of it."
Stilin placed third in 18:40, followed by B.A.A. member Julian Saad (19:12), and former Providence College Friar Brian Doyle (19:22).
Just before taking a toast to the New Year and leaving Central Park, Matthews summed up the successful day for Team B.A.A. here.
"I think we're getting known in the Northeast," she said. "As the year continues, hopefully more and more people around the country recognize the team and come to think of us as real good competition. It's pretty cool."
Top results can be found below:
| 1. Daniel Winn || 24 || Brighton, MA (Boston Athletic Association) || USA || 18:34 $500 + $100i|
| 2. Louis Serafini || 24 || Brighton, MA (The Heartbreakers) || USA || 18:40 300 + 100i|
| 3. Joe Stilin || 26 || Blowing Rock, NC (ZAP Fitness/Reebok) || USA || 18:46 200 + 100i|
| 4. Julian Saad || 24 || Providence, RI (Boston Athletic Association) || USA || 19:12|
| 5. Brian Doyle || 23 || Davidson, NC || USA || 19:22|
| 6. Japheth Kiptanui || 30 || Huntington, NY || LBR || 19:52|
| 7. Thomas Young || 37|| Fort Lee, NJ (New York Athletic Club)|| USA || 19:53|
| 8. Reid Hawkins || 20 || Middletown, CT || USA|| 20:44|
| 9. Dustin Emrani || 30 || New York, NY (NJ-NY Track Club) || ISR || 20:46|
|10. Rob Molke || 24 || Minneapolis, MN (Team USA Minnesota) || USA || 20:48|
|i = Earned time bonus for sub-19:00 (limited to top-3 finishers)
|1. Sarah Pagano|| 24 || Brighton, MA (Boston Athletic Association) || USA|| 21:13 $500 + $100i|
| 2. Katie Matthews || 25 || Brighton, MA (Boston Athletic Association)|| USA || 21:16 300 + 100i|
| 3. Lianne Farber || 23 || Sacramento, CA (NorCal Distance) || USA || 21:26 200 + 100i|
| 4. Rosa Moriello || 23 || Brighton, MA (The Heartbreakers) || USA || 21:34|
| 5. Lisa Dobriskey || 32 || Flagstaff, AZ (GBR) || GBR|| 22:27|
| 6. Genna Hartung || 24|| Ithaca, NY || USA || 22:49|
| 7. Philippa Taylor || 48|| Stamford, Lincs || GBR || 24:39|
| 8. Irene Kalbian || 24 || New York, NY (Williamsburg Track Club) || USA|| 25:00|
| 9. Alison Crocker|| 31|| Toledo, OH || USA || 25:08|
|10. Anoush Shehadeh || 18|| Larchmont, NY || USA || 26:49|
|i = Earned time bonus for sub-23:00 (limited to top-3 finishers)
PHOTO: Daniel Winn and Sarah Pagano after winning the 2015 NYRR Midnight Run (photo by Chris Lotsbom for Race Results Weekly)