Bea wins marathon and bar bet

Marathon winner David Bea, left, and half-distance champion Max Hoffman, run side-by-side on Mirror Lake Drive early in Sunday’s race. (Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)

LAKE PLACID — David Bea’s first trip to Lake Placid was memorable, and successful. Over the weekend, the Cincinnati resident enjoyed the breathtaking views from the summit of Whiteface Mountain, got a nice new hat and headed home with a marathon victory.

Competing in his 56th marathon, Bea finally captured his first win at that distance, taking the title Sunday in the 14th Annual Lake Placid Marathon. In a race that couldn’t have been much closer, Bea held off a hard-charging Jacob Andrews to claim the overall championship in 2 hours, 40 minutes, 10.9 seconds. Andrews, who was competing in his first marathon, chipped away at an early 8-minute deficit to finish runner up less than nine seconds behind Bea.

Bea, who was in the 35-39 age group, ran the entire race wearing a hat that his friends purchased for him in Lake Placid, and it turned out to be a lucky charm for the first time marathon champion.

“It was a bar bet. My two buddies, they just randomly walked into ‘Where Did You Get That Hat’ on Main Street,” Bea explained. “They saw a fedora, and they said ‘Dude, we’ll pay you 100 bucks if you wear this fedora.’ I said ‘All right, I’m in. 50 bucks from each of you if I wear it the whole race, and then a 25-percent bonus if I win.'”

Bea was one of the marathon’s early pace setters and stayed in front of the pack all the way, although Andrews ate up his deficit quickly. There are several turnarounds along the route where runners pass each other, and Bea knew his rival was hot on his heels.

Women’s full-distance winner Elizabeth Dolas and her brother John Peterson approach the finish line on Sunday. (Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)

“A great race by him. He made it real hard on me. It was too close for comfort,” Bea said. “At the first turnaround, I had 3 minutes on him. The last turnaround — the outbound — it was less than a minute and half. At that point, I had to look at all tangents. Run as hard as I can, as smart as I can, leave it all out there — that was my strategy. I’m happy. I feel like I left it all out there.”

“I was right there. This is my first marathon ever and my goal was to take it really easy on the first half and then cut down,” said Andrews, who ran in the 18-24 age group. “It was what I wanted to do, but I didn’t expect him to have almost seven minutes on me in the first half. I tried to eat it up as much as I could and I almost had it, but that last hill was really tough. He ran a great race.

“It was a hard race but it was good,” added Andrews, a Troy resident. “It was a great course, it was beautiful. You couldn’t ask for anything better. It was a cool start, it was a beautiful day for a race and great people out there having fun. I felt really comfortable. I was actually holding back quite a bit in the beginning, and looking back, I think I would have tried to start moving a little earlier just to see what happened.”

Canton’s Seth Jackson took third place for the men in 2:57:06.3 and Lake Placid’s Marc Galvin was fourth in 3:00:04.7.

Elizabeth Dolas of Amesbury, Massachusetts was fifth overall and the first female finisher. She crossed the line in 3:04:09.9, which was less than a second ahead of her brother John Peterson. The pair have embarked on a mission to run 50 marathons in 50 states and said Sunday marked the 23rd one in which she has run.

Van Ledger speeds across the pavement on Mirror Lake Drive in Sunday’s half marathon. (Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)

“This is my first time to Lake Placid, it’s a great race, but that hill at the end was a little tough,” Dolas said. “I was expecting it to be difficult but after running 25-plus miles. It’s hard to end that way but it was a great race overall. I just figured I’d come and run and have a good time. I felt good, and if you feel good you go for it.”

Lake Placid’s Mike Skutt also had a strong run, finishing 10th overall in 3:09:23.1.

Two young runners battled it out for the men’s half-marathon title, and after finishing fifth in Lake Placid a year ago, 17-year-old Max Hoffman broke through with the win on Sunday. The resident of Clifton Park, however, had to battle late struggles after throwing up while climbing the brutal hill toward the finish line. He finished in 1:23:18.9, which was short of his goal of breaking the 1:20 mark.

“Every year that last hill kills me, but this year was really bad,” Hoffman said. “My goal was 1:20. I didn’t hit it but I didn’t have a great end to the race. The nice thing is that I didn’t get kicked by anybody.”

Lake Placid’s Van Ledger, a 15-year-old, was pleased with his second-place finish after he crossed the line in 1:24:41.7. Ledger decided a week ago to enter the race after making a deal with his uncle Greg Borzilleri, who now owns the Lake Placid Marathon after purchasing the event two years ago from founders Jeff Edwards and Brad Konkler.

Half-marathon women’s winner Christine Myers runs early in Sunday’s race. (Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)

“We were sitting at dinner and I looked at the prices and said ‘I really want to run this, but that’s a lot of money,'” Ledger recalled. “I thought I’d figure something out. I asked my uncle ‘Hey, how many times to I have to mow your lawn for a race entry?’ He said ‘Three sounds good.’ I said ‘Sweet. I’m in.'”

When asked after the race if he would have waved Van’s obligation to cut his grass had the youngster won the half marathon, Borzilleri responded, “Heck no. A deal’s a deal.”

Always one for sibling rivalry, a goal for Ledger was to beat the result turned in by his older brother Forest back when he was the same age. As it turned out, Van one-upped his older brother by more than four minutes, but at the same time, Forest now has Van eyeing another goal after he ran in the full-distance race Sunday.

“This is my first half marathon race,” Van Ledger said. “I was trying to keep a 6:40 pace because my brother Forest, when he was my age, ran a 1:29:17, so a 6:40 would have kept me right under him. Fortunately I was able to keep that pace. I guess I have bragging rights for the next few months. I’m kind of assuming that I’m now expected to run the marathon, seeing that he’s running it today.”

Competing in the 18-24 age group, Forest Ledger placed 26th overall in the marathon with a 3:24:40.7 finish time.

Runners leave the start line in front of the Olympic Speed Skating oval Sunday morning to begin the 14th annual Lake Placid Marathon. (Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)

Saranac Lake’s Jacob Alberga had a strong run on Sunday. The high school junior placed 10th overall in the half-marathon with a 1:31:27.7 result.

The women’s half-marathon title went to 20-year-old Christine Myers of Altamont. A year ago, the College of St. Rose student ran the full-distance race in Lake Placid and decided to give the half a try this time around and captured her first 13.1-mile race victory in 1:27:07.9. Lake Placid’s Elizabeth Izzo was the women’s runner-up in 1:28:49.2.

“I just kind of went out with the guys at the front and I PR’d,” Myers said. “My goal was to break 1:30, I did that, winning was nice too,” said Myers, who also placed fifth overall in the field. “It’s really surreal. When I woke up this morning, I wasn’t expecting this. I was just hoping to go out there and feel good, and then winning happened. Seventh overall in the Syracuse Half Marathon last November was my best finish until now.”

Jen Bakula of Oakland, California, is one runner who made history in the Lake Placid Marathon Sunday. Competing in the 35-39 division, she achieved her goal of completing 50 marathons in 50 states in less than four hours. Bakula reached the finish line in 3:43:55.2.

Borzilleri said Sunday couldn’t have turned out much better, especially with the sunny, cooler weather that provided ideal conditions for a road race.

“We were just blessed to be able to have all these wonderful people here and let Lake Placid shine,” he said.

Sunday’s field included 260 runners in the full marathon and 814 half-mathoners.