This & That: Bellows Falls Front Porch Half Marathon

Front Porch Half Marathon

Each year, Bellows Falls Front Porch Half Marathon sneaks up on me. It really shouldn’t. It is always held the Saturday prior to Columbus Day weekend. This year, the race took place Saturday, Sept. 29, which by date is the earliest it can be run. That is because Columbus Day – or should we say Indigenous Peoples Day – was Oct. 8 this time around and that is as early as it gets. Both those dates actually snuck up on me you could say.

There are actually two races annually staged. One is the half marathon and the other is an eight-miler. Registration for both of these events begins months in advance. Generally, the majority of competitors don’t sign up until the last few weeks or days. Race spokesperson Morgan Potter doesn’t even know the quality of some of the runners until the race is run.

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The Front Porch Marathon race begins. Photo provided.

“There are always surprises,” Potter said. “I think it is very cool that people from any number of states will take part every year.”

This time around there were over 100 participants, including competitors from Florida, North Dakota, Wisconsin, Ohio, Tennessee, and Texas. None of those runners claimed the top three positions in either race, but they were part of the over all flavor of what is turning into many runners’ dream every year.

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If at first you don’t succeed, try again. Patrick Clark finished third in the Front Porch Half Marathon a year ago, but he came back this year and won. Photo provided.

Potter said, “We’re super excited about this event and the positive impact it has on our community. Each year we get great support from the Town of Rockingham, the police and fire department, Westminster Fire, and many community members who give their time to help us out. Last year one of our donations went to Friends For Change, a local youth organization created after the Boys and Girls Club was defunded. We have also started a scholarship for a BFUHS graduating senior who plans to pursue a degree in fitness and/or wellness. This year’s money is targeted for the scholarship.”

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Luke Teschner of White River Junction won the eight-mile race. Photo provided.

Every year, a good number of the participants are attracted by a phenomenon of the runners’ world – a desire to run a half marathon in every state. The Front Porch race is a wonderful scenic route, which is praised by the out-of-town runners. The race begins at the Depot at the Waypoint Center, includes streets in the village of Bellows Falls, travels out through Gageville, passes through streets in Saxtons River including the Vermont Academy campus, over the Hall Covered Bridge on the way back. It takes runners on the dirt road to historic Barbers Park – which is only a name or distant memory to most – and back to the Square in Bellows Falls. The eight-mile race turns at the Hall Bridge and returns to Bellows Falls.

 

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Former BF Terrier runner Nicholas Potter finished third in the Eight-miler competition. Photo provided.

Patrick Clark, who resides in Walpole, N.H. and finished third a year ago, improved his time by more than a minute and a half and captured the half marathon this year in 1:35:04. Elizabeth Markison, of West Dover, Vt., was second only five minutes behind followed by Alexandra Bryar of Somerville, Mass., who grew up in Grafton.

 

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Elizabeth Markisonwas second in the half marathon competition. Photo provided.

Luke Teschner of White River Junction captured the eight-mile competition in a course record 51:21 in the fifth year of the event. Brian Lashway of Charlestown, N.H., was a little over a minute behind to finish second, while former Bellows Falls Terrier standout Nicolas Potter was third. Potter is expected to join the Marines in a few weeks.

Next year’s race will jump two weeks on the calendar and will be staged Oct. 12, and Potter encourages “community members who live on the route to step out on their porches on race day next year, enjoy the determination on the faces passing by, and help us cheer on the runners as they work to accomplish an amazing goal,” which in every case could be a completely different expectation.

High school football

For the second week in a row, no area high school football team found themselves suffering a loss. Bellows Falls stayed alive in their battle for second place in Vermont’s Division II, by whacking Mount Abraham 46-16, while spring remains in the competition for a home play-off game with a 40-24 conquest of Oxbow. Both teams won on their home turf convincingly. The Cosmos are now 3-3. Fall Mountain, who won the last time out, was idle.

 

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Terrier running back Andrew Elliott is off on his 35-yard touchdown run. The Terriers host Fair Haven this Friday for Senior Night. Photo by Doug MacPhee.

Bellows Fall’s Bob Lockerby was pleased with his team’s victory feeling that “our commitment to details has improved and is important to our overall success. In the end, the little things will make the difference, and we have to be ready when it matters.” The Terriers host Fair Haven on Senior Night Friday, Oct. 12 in a crucial Division II contest.

The Purple and White scored three first-quarter touchdowns and took a 20-0 lead. On the second play from scrimmage, Brady Clark, who rushed for 111 yards on the day, broke loose on a 47-yard run to paydirt. Griffin Waryas passed to Sam Mellish for the two-point conversion. A 2-yard run by Julian Christiansen and a Waryas pass of 25 yards to Dylan Clark completed the first stanza scoring.

The tally was 34-8 Bellows Falls at the half. Brady Clark came up with his second touchdown on a 40-yard run with Jed Lober rushing for the two-point extra points. Then Andrew Elliott, who rushed for 92 yards in the game, added a 35-yard touchdown run. In the second half, Waryas dropped off a 26-yard screen pass to Lober and Hunter Smith had a 2-yard scoring run for the final two scores for the locals.

Jeff Rainville, Reno Tuttle, Dylan Clark, and Aiden and Hunter Smith were all involved in six or more tackles for the Bellows Falls defensively.

 

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Cosmos quarterback is under pressure in the Bellows Falls game. This week in a victory versus Oxbow, Presch took off a scramble when his receivers were covered and scored. Photo by Doug MacPhee.

Cosmo leader Todd Aiken says his team “started slow, had some good runs early, but penalties and mistakes again made it a sloppy first quarter.” The Cosmos have a habit of starting slow, and they may have overcome that in the win over Oxbow, but chances are they will have to clean things up to compete with Windsor this Friday night at Brown Field.

Jacob Stepler, who had three touchdowns on the night, ran for a 35-yard touchdown in the opening quarter to put his team ahead 6-0. Springfield led 14-6 after one stanza, as Stepler added a 23-yard scoring run and a Sam Presch rush for extra points offset an Oxbow touchdown and the game stood at 14-12.

Two second quarter touchdowns allowed the Green and White to take control. The Cosmos looked in trouble at one time, but Aiken said, “Our defense stood tall and forced a punt.” Then Stepler broke loose for a 37-yard touchdown run and Presch, on a fourth and 7, found Noah Zierfus on a 68-yard pass play for a touchdown for a 28-12 halftime advantage. Ryan Kirker rushed for one two-point conversion.

In the second half, the Cosmos scored when Presch saw a passing play break down and he scrambled 10 yards for a score, and there was another pass connection between Presch and Zierfus of 21 yards. Aiken gave credit to Bryson Jester and Donivan Sprano for strong rushing attempts in addition to the rushers who scored.

Aiken said during the contest he “saw a different attitude in our line play and overall toughness. Then the focus was on Windsor as soon as the Oxbow game ended.”

If you would like to comment on the sports in this paper, feel free to email me at bmurphy@vermontjournal.com.

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