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McNeil smashes through Marathon by the Sea in 2:37:09

Debut at 42.2K a memorable one for Saint John native

By Andrew Wagstaff
Maritime Runner
Aug. 13, 2017

SAINT JOHN, N.B. – Matt McNeil has taken ownership of a new distance.
The Saint John native, who now runs out of Halifax, made his marathon debut in grand fashion at his hometown Marathon by the Sea event today, smashing through the toughest course in the region with a time of 2:37:09.
McNeil said he was feeling “pretty beat up” after the race, and had one word to describe the Saint John course. Brutal.
“It’s the first time I’ve felt something like that,” he said. “I’m from here, so I’ve run every part of that course at some point, but not strung together in 42K.”

Matt McNeil of Halifax, by way of Saint John, N.B. ran away with first place in the full marathon at Marathon by the Sea in Saint John today, with a time of 2:37:09.

Andrew Wagstaff photo

   McNeil decided about two months ago that he wanted to qualify for the next Boston Marathon, and with a fast enough qualifying time to put him in the same starting corral as his Halifax Road Hammers coach Lee McCarron and teammate Matthias Mueller.
   Although he had been practicing with fueling during his training, he said he still found himself starting to fade late in the race.
   “At around 34-35K, I started feeling like I was hitting a wall that I had never hit before,” said McNeil. “And from around 35-37K there were a lot of hills that just didn’t stop. For that to be the point where I started to hit the wall, was pretty challenging.”
   In planning the race with his coach, they had decided that 2:48 was a reasonable finish time to shoot for, with goals for the coming cross-country season in mind. Although McNeil didn’t stick with that strategy, he was excited to know he will be in the same starting group as his mates in Boston.
   In the meantime, he can reflect on his introduction to the new distance, which he did in his hometown.
   “I have gained a bigger appreciation for the marathon,” he said. “I have never raced longer than a half, and my longest run was only 34K, so today showed me how difficult racing 42.2K is.”
   Finishing second in the marathon was Remi Guitard, with a time of 2:57:43, followed by Michael Creedon at 2:58:20.
   The top female finisher for the second straight year was Charlotte Mawer of St. Stephen, who crossed the finish line at 3:34:53.
   Mawer cut five minutes off her winning time from last year, and also qualified for Boston, making for a successful day in the Port City.
   “The weather couldn’t have been better for racing, and the new course was amazing,” she said. “Although there weren’t that many people out towards Lorneville, it was very flat for the most part, with a couple of rolling hills.”
   Coming in second was Lucia Alzaga at 3:44:23, followed by Marlene Hickey at 3:51:29.
   In the half marathon, it was local runner Jeff Queen topping the field with a time of 1:22:37.
   “I was just hoping to be under 1:24 today,” said Queen. “Four minutes per km is kind of a benchmark for me for the half, so to be under that on that course today was huge.”
   Although Queen never minded the tough Rockwood Park section of the old course – he actually enjoyed the variety it added – he said he was impressed with the course changes this year, and hopes the organizers keep the new route in place for years to come.
   Finishing in second place was Kevin Curnock at 1:23:09, followed by James Crossman at 1:24:09.
   Queen led from about the 3K mark on and knew Curnock was not far behind.
   “I train with Kevin a lot, so it was good to see him right behind me,” he said. “But, also, there’s days when he’s ahead of me, so I knew I had to keep going.”
   The top female finisher in the half marathon was local runner Brenda Guitard, with a time of 1:39:47.
   “I love running Marathon by the Sea, especially coming over the bridge at the end,” she said. “I felt good today. I ran a half last weekend too, in Grand Manan, and I was faster today, so that’s good.”
   Finishing second among females was Amy Dixon at 1:40:07, followed by Laura Lee Mullin at 1:41:07.
   In the 10K, Dean Strowbridge of Willow Grove continued his winning weekend with a first place finish of 35:24. Like yesterday’s 5K, it was Strowbridge’s second straight year winning the 10K race, only this year he was 36 seconds faster.
   “I felt good,” he said. “My legs were a little tired today, but experience can push you through being tired. To get a better time this year was way batter than I could imagine. I wasn’t expecting it.”
   At 46, Strowbridge is making a habit of outrunning a lot of younger legs. Impressive, considering he was laid off for the first half of this year due to an injury.
   Winning at home in Saint John was also pretty special.
   “For so many years I would be in second place… there always seemed to be someone always showing up who was better,” he said. “To get these wins was really nice.”
   Finishing in second place was Joe Sheridan at 42:05, followed by Roy Clavette at 42:24. Top females were Hannah Arsenault at 44:18, Angel MacEachern at 46:18, and Suzanne Doucet at 47:26.
   For complete, official results by Atlantic Chip, visit here .