As 1,500 runners anxiously milled about the starting line on Middle Road Saturday Morning, West Tisbury selectman Jeffrey (Skipper) Manter brandished a streamer-topped car antenna, holding it up to the sky.
“In case I need to wave down a med-flight,” he told curious fellow runners in the 34th Chilmark Road Race.
The sweat-soaked Mr. Manter had already run the course that morning in preparation for a half-marathon in Lowell and was beginning to feel the miles.
“Stay in front of me and you’ll be all right,” he said.
A report rang out from somewhere ahead and the logjammed runners took their first few tentative steps; 3.2 miles later Louis Serafini of Niskayuna, N.Y., and Anne Preisig of Falmouth claimed their grand prizes, five-pound lobsters. Mr. Serafini completed the course in a blistering 16:23.2, while, at 18:34.6, Ms. Preisig registered a sub-six-minute pace. Both also finished first overall last year.
At the awards ceremony Mr. Serafini hoisted the unwieldy crustacean above his head, the lobster splaying his cumbersome claws in a Victory symbol.
En route to the finish line, runners navigated heat and hills, exhaustion and self-doubt. Lazing insects droned supportively from the arboreal grandstands and spectators lined the road handing out water and encouragement. One onlooker towered over runners, perched atop the upraised hydraulic arm of a tractor.
As always, the final mile featured the breathtaking and bucolic hillside overlook of the Atlantic Ocean. Those in less than peak physical condition may have feared a premature admission to kingdom come, but Iban Teba Almansa, who traveled all the way from Barcelona to compete on Saturday (finishing fourth overall in the men’s 30 to 39 age division) was too focused on the next step to take in the heavenly surroundings.
“I didn’t even know the ocean was there,” he said after the race, surprised.
Susan Wilson of Princeton, N.J., placed first in her age group; the vaunted 80-98-year-old division. Ms. Wilson, who runs a sex education Web site, ran her first marathon at age 67 and was greeted at the finish line by a throng of beaming family members, their shirts emblazoned with the words: “Can you keep up with Susan?”
“It was hot out there but my feet knew the way,” she said after her 13th Chilmark Road Race.
With temperatures pushing above 80 degrees, the sun gazed pitilessly upon runners below and ambulances stood by, but Bob Bellinger, chief of Tri-Town Ambulance, said there was not a single medical crisis on race day, save one dogged and dog-tired little girl.
While some things never change about the Chilmark Road Race, such as the formidable beard of Jim Austin, there were a few signs of the times on Saturday. A number of runners sported odd, many-toed sneakers called Vibram Five Fingers as well as iPod accoutrements of all kinds. Some in the pre-race queue regarded music as a performance-enhancing drug, especially after Miriam Ackerman of Brooklyn, N.Y., announced that she was listening to Michael Jackson’s P.Y.T.
It was also difficult to ignore the stream of lime green shirts crossing the finish line over the course of the day. “You push me, I push you,” the shirts read. This was Team MacMaster, which consisted of 31 of the 32 members of the MacMaster clan from Philadelphia.
“I will not name Douglas MacMaster Jr. as the one who didn’t run,” announced one family member who preferred to keep his anonymity.
Twin sisters Natalie and Emily Tully of Wayland fittingly tied for first place in the 9 to 11 age group. Roy Vagelos took home first in the male 80 to 98 division.
“Mom, he’s older than Grandma!” one bystander blurted indiscreetly at the award ceremony.
“I hope everyone here runs it until they’re 80,” said Kenneth Baum of Chilmark, who placed third in the division.
As runners returned home, some in glory to enjoy massive lobster feasts, others with little more to show for their efforts than a pair of sore quadriceps, the annual South Road traffic jam eased and the cup-strewn Middle Road reopened. But as the post-race glow faded one man kept running. “As soon as it clears out I’m running back,” said Mr. Manter.
What follows are the top 10 finishers in the road race, men and women.
Men: 1, Louis Serafini, 18, Niskayuna, N.Y., 16:23.2; 2, Jake McCauley, 18, Darien, Conn., 16:44.3; 3, Scott Ellis, 29, North Andover, 16:55.9; 4, Noah Jampol, 22, Waban, 17:22.1; 5, John Sullivan, 49, West Roxbury, 17:51.9; 6, Scott Bosworth, 45, Edgartown, 18:14.0; 7, Aaron Kano-Bower, 17, Wayland, 18:16.9; 8, Keegan Skidmore, 27, Burlington, 18:26.3; 9, Billy Deehan, 18, Upper Montclair, N.J., 18:28.3; 10, Jackson Bangs, Upper Montclair, N.J., 18:31.7
Women: 1, Anne Preisig, 42, Falmouth, 18:34.6; 2, Kara Leonard, 31, Canton, 19:07.0; 3, Ali Hummelberg, 18, Corona Del Mar, Calif., 19:38.3; 4, Elizabeth Shortino, 46, San Anselmo, Calif., 20:04.1; 5, Brianna Rogers, 19, Lexington, 20:16.2; 6, Catie Skinner, 15, Philadelphia, Pa., 20:21.6; 7, Maureen Larkin, 46, Walpole, 20:39.4; 8, Ava Geyer, 17, Cambridge, 20:47.6; 9, Caroline Weaver, 19, (town not listed) 20:47.9; 10, Cara Roberts, 18, Scarsdale, N.Y., 21:23.5