Amherst’s Ryan Stender wins Green River Marathon

  • Amherst resident Ryan Stender runs alone in the lead on Colrain Road toward Greenfield Community College en route to winning Sunday's New England Green River Marathon. FOR THE RECORDER/CHIP AINSWORTH

  • Anna Ruth Halberstadt of Hadley relaxes near the finish line after winning the women’s division of the New England Green River Marathon. for the recorder/chip ainsworth

For the Recorder
Published: 9/1/2019 9:33:38 PM

GREENFIELD — The only sounds on a quiet Sunday morning along Colrain Road were the peepers peeping and the rhythmical slapping of Ryan Stender’s running shoes against the dry pavement.

The 23-year-old Amherst native had eased away from pace-setter Josh Fontaine at the 21-mile mark and had a commanding half-mile lead when he crossed the finish line at Greenfield Community College. He won the second annual New England Green River Marathon in 2 hours, 36 minutes, 24 seconds — 10 minutes faster than Meg Brockett’s benchmark performance in 2018.

“Everything impacts you, every step reminds you you’re racing hard,” Stender said. “I wanted to qualify for Boston and figured this was a beautiful course and close to home. It was refreshing, I didn’t feel the humidity until six miles to go.”

An All-American at Brandeis, Stender began running competitively when he was a sophomore at Amherst Regional High School.

He was the only runner to average under six-minute miles (5:58:00), but said beating the clock wasn’t his intent. “I don’t wear a watch,” he said. “I stopped doing that in college. If I did, I’d get all caught up with it.”

Fontaine, who hails from Lebanon, New Hampshire, was the distant runner-up. He finished eight minutes (more than a mile) ahead of Douglas Hall of Belmont and Andrew Willis of Rye, New York.

The women’s winner was Hadley resident Anna Ruth Halberstadt, who finished 34th overall in 3:15:14. A North Carolina native, Halberstadt is a graduate student enrolled in the Department of Geostudies at UMass. “It was lovely,” she said. “I really enjoyed the river, and the questions they’d posted along the course— ‘How high was the water during Tropical Storm Irene? How did the Green River get its name?’ They didn’t give the answers so you really had to think.”

The 28-year-old Halberstadt was sitting close to where Julia Ernst was crawling to the finish line on all fours. Ernst wobbled to the wire and collapsed amongst a throng of cheering supporters. Despite her obvious physical distress, the 23-year-old Virginian had finished 62nd overall and was second in her age group.

Asked about her well-being, Kerry Turk of RAT Race Timing said, “She’s busy throwing up. It’s rare in a small race, but you see all sorts of physical and emotional states in the bigger marathons.”

Sponsored by the Sugarloaf Mountain Athletic Club and the Connecticut River Conservancy, a field of 444 runners was bussed north to Marlboro College between Brattleboro and Wilmington, Vermont, for the 7 a.m. start in 44-degree weather.

“When you’re shivering at the start, you know it’s going to be a fast race,” said Michael Southam of Shelton, Connecticut, who was wearing bib No. 2. “I’m afraid that only means I was the second person to register,” he said with a laugh. “I ran last year and this is such a beautiful course I was keen to get in again this year. I didn’t want to miss it.”


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