LAKE PLACID - Two newcomers to the Lake Placid Marathon were winners Sunday, as Michael Johnston and Katie Aldridge took top honors in the race's full 26.2-mile distance.
More than 2,000 runners took to the streets of the Olympic Village as the Lake Placid Marathon was held for the eighth straight year. The vast majority of participants tackled the half-marathon distance, with titles there going to Tupper Lake's Michael Schram and Anne Putnam of Schenectady.
Johnston was impressive in the full marathon. Just an 18-year-old competing in his first marathon, the Darien, Conn. resident won the overall title as the first runner to cross the line. His finish of 2 hours, 35 minutes and 48 seconds was the second-fastest result in the history of the race.
Michael Johnston enters the speedskating oval while closing in on the finish line during his winning effort in Sunday’s eighth annual Lake Placid Marathon.
(Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)
"I just finished my high school track season, I was still at my peak and I was looking to get into another race," Johnston said. "I've never run a marathon, so I'm pretty thrilled about winning my first.
"I could hear people cheering for some other runners early in the race, but after mile three, I felt like I was on my own," Johnston continued. "I wasn't sure how running this distance would feel, but the longer the distance, the better I am. I feel great, but my legs are totally shot."
Johnston finished more than five minutes ahead of the second finisher. That honor went to Stephen Trull of Burlington, Vt. who was runner-up in 2:40:54. Another first-time marathon runner, Charlie Bennett, of Goshen was third in 2:42:51.
"This was really a great event," Bennett said. "I haven't been to this race before. It's my first marathon, and it was just an incredible course. It's so scenic. Those two guys who finished ahead of me ran a great race. I'm extremely proud coming in right behind them."
Fourth place went to Sebastian Roulier of Sherbrooke, Que., who came in as the three-time defending champion of the Lake Placid Marathon. A father of three, Roulier said the combination of a recent viral infection and running in two long races shortly before Sunday's event may have hampered his effort in claiming his fourth title here in a row. Roulier finished in 2:44:43, which was more than eight minutes slower than his best result in the race.
"Today was not my day," Roulier said. "At about the halfway point, that's when I knew I had to be conservative. I didn't want to push too hard. I just ran another marathon and a 21k race, so maybe I was too tired. I couldn't win it again, but I still had fun."
David Burger of Pennellville rounded out the top five in the men's marathon, finishing in 2:51:36. Lake Placid's Marc Galvin was the top local men's finisher, placing sixth in 2:57:43.
Aldridge, a 38-year-old endurance runner from Ithaca, was barely challenged while topping the women's marathon field. She crossed the line in 3:00:28 to nail down her second marathon victory in a month. Competing Sunday was almost an after thought for Aldridge, who is a history buff and an author. She came to Lake Placid for a book signing Friday at the Book Store Plus. She was promoting her recently published book "No Freedom Shrieker," which is a story based on 100 letters she found on her farm that were written by a Union Army solider in the Civil War.
After the signing, the 38-year-old Aldridge was entered to compete in the half marathon and decided a day before the race to go the full distance. She was also promoting her book at the site of her last marathon victory in Gettysburg, Pa.
"I've put almost 11,000 miles into my book," Aldridge said, explaining that her running and writing go hand in hand. "The book was really a big project, and I ran quite a bit while I was writing it. I'd say book signings and running marathons go good together,
"I've never been to Lake Placid when there wasn't snow on the ground, and I was just happy to be here," Aldridge added. "I've run 23 marathons before this one, and I didn't really have any goals in mind. I just love running."
On his third attempt at the half-marathon distance in Lake Placid, Schram finally broke through with a win. The 21-year-old track athlete who just finished his junior year at SUNY Plattsburgh topped the field with a 1:13:38 finish time. Schram was fifth and eighth in his last two appearances in the race, and said conquering the final two hills on the course was a key to reaching the finish line first.
"I just wanted to keep a consistent pace," Schram said. "There are two big hills at the end, and you got to have a lot of energy left to get past them. When I reached that point, I just kept my head down and drove up."
Second place in the men's half marathon went to Demetri Goutos of Saratoga Springs, who finished in 1:15:12. Ray Webster of Hinesburg, Vt. placed third in 1:16:33. Putnam captured the women's overall half-marathon title in 1:27:58, which was was almost five minutes ahead of her closest rival, Sandra Ebanks of Pace, Fla. Ebanks was the women's runner-up in 1:32:47.
Sarah Keyes of Saranac Lake was the top finisher among all local runners in the half-marathon. Running in the race for the seventh time, she placed third in the women's field and 27th overall with a 1:33:32 finish time.
"I was fifth last year, and I hoped to do better this time," Keyes said. "I'm really happy with third place. I really love this race. It's right in our backyard. It's turned into quite a tradition."