MYSTIC — Spyros Barres, of Mystic, and Molly Evak, of Pawcatuck, join a handful of top local road racers Sunday mornings at Haley Farms in Noank to train as part of what they affectionately call the “Old Guys” running club.
Barres, 50, is one of the core group of 50-and-older runners, which includes Mystic’s Jim Roy, 52, and Anthony Fossa, 53, and others
“We run just for fun, but one of our big causes is to raise money and awareness for the building of a memorial statue of 1957 Boston Marathon winner and local running legend Johnny Kelley in downtown Mystic,” said Evak, who, at 30, represents the new wave of “Old Guys” members.
This Sunday, the running group skipped their Haley Farm training to compete in the Ocean Community YMCA’s 38th annual Tarzan Brown Mystic River Run in downtown Mystic. They took a break from their honoring of Kelley to create their own honors during the 5.5 mile race, named in tribute of 1936 and 1939 Boston Marathon winner, Tarzan Brown of the Narragansett Indian Tribe.
Barres was the overall winner in the field of 713 in a time of 29:50, while Evak was the first female finisher, placing 19th, in 33:45.
“I’ve never won Tarzan Brown before,” Barres said. “My big goal for the fall was to set the seniors’ (50- to 59-age group) record in the Hartford Half Marathon, which I did two weeks ago. Then I had this race, which I didn’t expect to win, and the Manchester Road Race on Thanksgiving is on my schedule. I’m a little surprised I won there but the pace wasn’t that fast (5 minute, 25 second mile).”
Barres pulled away from Kevin Sorrell, 26, of Mystic in the second half of the race and won by 34 seconds.
“After we went around the cones at the end of the out part of the course, I surged up a couple of hills and pulled away on the second downhill,” Barres said. “It’s a nice local, community race and mostly flat, so it’s very enjoyable.”
Barres actually finished ahead of the pace car. Other locals in the top 10 included Sorrell, Matt Anderson, of Stonington, (5th, 31:19), Stonington High cross country runner Kieran Thornell, of Stonington, (7th, 31:50), Pawcatuck’s Andy Caldwell (8th, 31:53) and Mystic’s Karl Dunn (9th, 32:02).
Mystic’s Jen Massengale, 27th overall, was the second female runner behind Evak. She is also an “Old Guys” running member.
Barres and Evak are in comeback mode for different reasons: Barres running strong after a 2010 ileostomy surgery for Crohn’s Disease and Evak winning after having a baby girl last winter. Barres, with more running experience, boasts more of an expanded resume after he dominated local racing in the 1990s before shutting down his training to battle the inflammatory digestive disease after 2000. He was largely inactive until undergoing surgery in 2010, but is back now as strong as ever.
“I recently was quoted in a local publication that centered around people living productive lives over the age of 50,” Barres said. “When I read the story, it dawned on me, ‘Wow, I’m 50.’ I feel very strong now and my times are better than in my younger running days.”
Barres and Evak both favor the 13.1 mile distance of half marathons, one of the most appealing races in recent years. In addition to his divisional record at the Hartford Half Marathon, Barres features an overall victory in the Newport Run Around the Block 15K (9.3 miles) to his credits.
“You have your 5 Ks (3.1 miles), marathons and half marathons,” Barres said. “I train about 90 miles a week, and I like the half marathon, because you can run it and recover in a week. This 5.5 miler today is an unusual distance. I didn’t know what to expect, but it didn’t take long to see I had a good chance to win.”
Evak couldn’t recall winning a road race. She was the second female in the 2012 Colchester Half Marathon and second in the 2012 Apple Harvest 5-miler in West Newbury, Mass.
“I have no idea if this is my first win,” Evak said. “I just run for fun. It’s great to get out. I love this race because it was a hometown feel and great community support.”
The top 25 local male runners with overall place and time were:
Barres (first, 29:50); Sorrell (second, 30:24); Anderson (fifth, 31:19); Thornell (seventh, 31:50); Caldwell (eighth, 31:53); Dunn (ninth, 32:02); Kurt Balagna, Mystic, (12th, 32:31); Peter Zelken, Mystic, (13th, 32:41); Jeff Vuono, Westerly, (15th, 33:26); Jeff Kotecki, Mystic, (17th, 33:33); Anthony Fossa, Mystic, (18th; 33:42); Eric Hansen, Pawcatuck, (22nd, 33:50); T.J. Dooling, Pawcatuck (23rd, 33:52); Dan Widlicka, Mystic (25th, 34:24); James McGee, Mystic (26th, 34:36); Max Reck, North Stonington (28th, 34:37); Justin Kane, Mystic (33rd, 35:15); Josh Harwell, Mystic (35th, 35:21); Scott Bessette, Mystic (41st, 35:37); Kahakee Northup, Charlestown (47th, 35:50), Kory Klimas, Pawcatuck (48th, 35:52); Harold Haugeto , Mystic (53rd, 36:14); Rick Breckenridge, North Stonington (55th, 36:27); Brandon Griffiths, Mystic (57th, 36:35) and Matthew Hargus, Pawcatuck (59th, 36:42).
The top 25 local female runners with overall place and time were:
Evak (19th, 33:45); Massengale (27th, 34:36); Karina Montoya (50th, 35:57); Jennifer DeCaro, Westerly (84th, 38:12); Autumn Kane, Mystic (92nd, 38:37); Jodi Richmond, Mystic (97th, 38:56); Kelsey Melinoski, North Stonington (105th, 39:11); Liz Gray, Pawcatuck (109th, 39:17); Molly Reinhold, Mystic (142nd, 40:22); Gwynne Widlicka, Mystic, (145th, 40:28); Lynne Richesin-Plouff, Hope Valley (148th, 40:30); Pamela Kane, Mystic (151st, 40:33); Elizabeth Griffiths, Mystic (154th, 40:48); Holly Hedde, Mystic (162nd, 41:07); Julie Van Duesen, Westerly (168th, 41:19); Anna Bornstein, Stonington (175th, 41:41); Elise Huysman, Pawcatuck (176th, 41:45); Kate Leach, Westerly (189th, 42:09); Mary D’Agostino, Mystic (191nd, 42:11); Jennifer Zingus, Mystic (196th, 42:19); Serena Monteiro, Mystic (209th, 42:58); Rachel McCormick, Mystic (217th, 43:15); Aimee Tooker, Stonington (218th, 43:15); Elizabeth Benoit, Mystic (228nd, 43:29) and Julie Johnston, Mystic (236th, 43:43).