More than an inch of rainfall soaked the trails of Bradley Palmer State Park on Sunday, May 14, but that didn’t prevent the annual G.A.C. Mother’s Day 6-Hour Run from taking place for the 23rd year in a row.
The rain may have kept some runners home – 43 completed at least one loop of the course this year compared to more than 100 in 2016 – and fewer logged major mileage compared to years past. Still, a few of the event’s familiar faces weren’t deterred by the elements, and they ascended to the top of the leaderboard with the most miles.
In addition to their longevity at the event, most of the top runners shared another common bond: familiar stomping grounds in Salem, Mass. Four of the five runners who completed 30 or more miles were residents of Salem, including both the men’s and women’s champions.
Greg Esbitt didn’t take part in the Mother’s Day run in 2016, but he was the overall winner in 2015 when he logged 37 miles, and he posted runner-up finishes in 2014 (39 miles) and 2011 (42 miles). The 43-year-old Salem resident returned from the one-year hiatus and cruised around the course for 40 miles – the most of any runner this year, and the second-most Esbitt has run in his seven years taking part in the race.
While Esbitt missed the 2016 race, Deirdre Lowe and Kristen Smith did not. The duo – also from Salem – were the top two female finishers in 2016 and placed in the top five overall. That year, Smith secured first-place female honors with 37 miles logged while Lowe was second with 36. The result was nearly identical in 2017 as both ladies ran 37 miles, but Smith finished just ahead to take first-place (second overall) while Lowe was the second-place female.
Notably, Lowe was the women’s champion and second overall in 2015.
The women secured three of the top four overall spots at this year’s race as the third-place female and fourth overall finisher broke up Salem’s dominance at the top of the podium. Kerry Phelan, a resident of Chestnut Hill, Mass., made both her Mother’s Day debut and her ultramarathon debut on Sunday. The 22-year-old knocked out 31 miles, giving her an official 50K.
The final runner to record at least 30 miles was another Salem resident and longtime Mother’s Day race participant. William Jackson rounded out the top five with his latest strong showing at the six-hour event. Jackson, 35, completed 10 loops of the course for 30 miles to take second place among the men. Jackson finished third overall in 2016 (40 miles) during a highly competitive year among the men, and he was fourth overall in 2015 (33 miles).
While five runners surpassed the 30-mile mark this year, a total of eight ran more than a marathon distance. A trio of runners – Al Catalano, 64, of Newbury, Mass.; Bethany Couto, 32, of Boston, Mass.; and Linnea Laverty, 31, of Lynn, Mass. – all completed nine loops of the course for 27 miles.