LOWELL — It was a banner day for Granite Staters at the Ashworth Awards Baystate Mara-thon under a 65-degree sunny sky on Sunday.
Brandon Newbould, a 36-year-old from Nottingham, N.H., was the first to cross the finish line at the Tsongas Center in a personal-best time of 2:23:51.4. He edged out race favorite and local product Ruben Sanca by roughly 24 seconds as Sanca finished in 2:24:15.
The women’s winner was 30-year-old Pam O’Sullivan of Nashua. O’Sullivan finished with a time of 2:49:01.8 and took 34th place overall.
Newbould also won this race back in 2009 in 2:27:53, which at the time was a personal best. His two Baystate wins are the only marathon victories he owns.
“I had the worst injury of my life (torn groin muscle) a few years ago and I was telling my wife last night that when I won this race the first time it was, like, the highlight of my running career and maybe I should’ve just stopped then. It was hard to imagine it getting better. But it’s really special to me to win this again, and it’s a surprise — I didn’t know that I even had a chance to win until there was a mile left.”
Newbould and Sanca are teammates on the Whirlaway Racing Team. It was never in doubt that one of them would capture the victory — third-place runner Jonathan Joyce, of Hull, clocked in at 2:28:32.
However, for most of the race it looked like it would be Sanca, a 30-year-old former UMass Lowell star who represented Cape Verde at the 2012 Olympics and has competed all over the world. Sanca, who resides in Chelmsford, once completed a marathon in a time of 2:18:47. But this was his first time taking on the Baystate course.
Sanca led at the halfway point by more than three minutes over Newbould. He was on a pace to seriously challenge the course record set by Dave Dunham in 1998 (2:21:36). But the final six-plus miles were a bit of a struggle for Sanca.
“I think I probably expended a little too much energy leading the first 20 miles or so,” said Sanca.
“I don’t know what happened, but I just got caught off-guard on the last mile and then I tried to react and go with (Newbould) a little bit, but I just didn’t have enough today.”
Newbould is originally from Alaska, where he became accustomed to trail-running in mountainous terrain. He moved out to New Hampshire in 2009 before his first Baystate win; his wife was from the area. When asked if he ran in college, Newbould further demonstrated his humble side.
“Yeah, not fast,” he said. “I went to Messiah College, a little Division 3 school in Pennsylvania. It doesn’t really make sense that I’m a much better runner now. But I’ve increased what I’ve done in training since high school every year, besides the big injury I had.
“Ruben started his lead at 50 meters. I have mixed feelings about beating him — he’s my teammate. I think he would understand the fact that I had to give everything I had to beat him is a compliment to him. He’s a better runner than I am, I should say that. Today was just my day.”
Springfield’s Dennis Roche took fourth (2:29:03.1), while Jacob Magiera, of West Warwick, R.I. was fifth (2:30:44.7).
On the women’s side, O’Sullivan ran away with the crown after she separated from the pack in the second half of the race. She was the only woman to finish in the top 50 overall.
“It was a good race,” she said. “I think right when I crossed 13.1 I was a step behind, and then I felt really good between mile 13 and 16 and then I gave myself a pep talk and started to feel even better around the finish line.”
O’Sullivan trains with Millennium Running. This was her 13th marathon.
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