Lennox makes late push past Harding to capture Road Runners 10-miler
Updated 6:57 pm, Tuesday, September 3, 2013
A combination of too much humidity and too much Danny Lennox -- the winner of Saturday's race -- left Westport's Tom Harding as the runner-up in the final competition of the Westport Road Runners Summer Series.
Lennox, 33, from Bedford. N.Y., led a field of 169 finishers by completing the 10-mile course at Staples High School in a time of one hour, two minutes and 48 seconds on Saturday.
Harding, 47, was second in 1:03:51. The top female was 48-year-old Mary Zengo of Wilton, who came in fourth overall in 1:05:22.
Harding, who was second in last year's race, led Saturday's competition for much of the way. It wasn't a hot morning -- temperatures were in the 70s -- but the humidity, which was reported to be 87 percent, affected Harding this time around.
"I was way in front," said Harding, noting that Lennox came out of nowhere late in the race. "I didn't even think he was in the race."
"I was down for nine miles and I wasn't thinking I was coming back," Lennox added.
But Lennox made the push and got the job done. Harding said he was pleased just to complete the course and had no problem with not winning despite being so close to leading the pack.
"I was happy to make it -- it was slow for me. I have a hard, hard time in humidity," said Harding, adding that it could have been warmer, but with less humidity he could have taken about three minutes off his time. "I'm glad he came on and kicked my butt. If we were close I would have had to run harder."
The temperature was similar this year, but the humidity was 17 percent higher than the race last year. Harding said that he gave it his all and couldn't imagine trying to push it up another notch if he and Lennox were close down the stretch.
"Everyone, I think, is grinding pretty hard out there -- it was pretty humid," Lennox said. "I think everybody was pretty hurting by the end."
Lennox says he's really taken to distance running after previously preferring shorter runs. In fact, he's preparing for the New York City Marathon in the fall.
"I used to like the short stuff but I'm getting stronger. I like the longer a little bit better," said Lennox, who finished fifth in the previous week's 9.3-miler.
Zengo wasn't far off the course record for females; the high humidity was the difference for her as well. She was 50 seconds off the record set by Weston's Kathleen Horton (1:04:32) back in 1986. Zengo also said tough hills -- noting that even cars struggled to climb -- prevented her from making up time when she attempted to pick up her pace.
"I'm done. I'm not racing for a while," said Zengo, adding that she'll take a break before competing in the Pequot Runners Thanksgiving Day Race.
Luke McCambley, 23, of New York, was the Summer Series' men's overall winner with 50 points. He won five straight races, ending with the 5.85-miler on Aug. 3. Spencer Brown, 16, of Wilton, was second overall with 44 points.
Zengo was the women's overall winner with 50 points. Second was Julie McElroy, 44, of Sleepy Hollow, N.Y., with 45 points.
Andy Hutchison is a freelance writer
Top 25 finishers
1. Dan Lennox, 33, Bedford, N.Y., 1:02:48. 2. Tom Harding, 47, Westport, 1:03:51. 3. Peter Mullen, 44, Riverside, 1:04:52. 4. Mary Zengo, 48, Wilton, 1:05:22. 5. David Allen, 43, Westport, 1:07:23. 6. Ian Cadieu, 29, Westport, 1:07:40. 7. James Drummond, 50, Middletown, 1:08:10. 8. Leo Biala, 35, Stamford, 1:08:28. 9. James Wilson, 34, Washington, D.C., 1:08:47. 10. Fred Willis, 28, Shelton, 1:09:28. 11. Paul Greenberg, 52, Westport, 1:09:35. 12. Tim Loh, 28, Fairfield, 1:09:55. 13. Sam Hartwell, 54, Alexandria, VA, 1:10:04. 14. Erik Moody, 41, New York, NY, 1:10:14. 15. Milly Wade-West, 23, Shelton, 1:10:38. 16. John Tarantino, 35, Cos Cob, 1:10:39. 17. Patrick Sullivan, 51, Westport, 1:11:07. 18. Kyle Astle, 28, Fairfield, 1:12:05. 19. Josh Lander, 40, Westport, 1:12:32. 20. Michael Tobin, 31, Ridgefield, 1:13:06. 21. Molly Gerster, 35, Rowayton, 1:13:08. 22. Roger Baxley, 44, Weston, 1:13:36. 23. Charlie Crofts, 52, Westport, 1:13:49. 24. Anthony Kelly, 49, Fairfield, 1:13:55. 25. Bruce Geller, 43, Westport, 1:14:15.