Donna Cormier: On the Run: Pair of Milers named top runners of the year

  • Published in Running


By Donna Cormier

Congratulations are in order for Leslie O’Dell of Albany and Jim Johnson of Madison who were both singled out for their top New Hampshire running performances as women’s and men’s winners of New Hampshire Runner of the Year.  These two athletes were picked by Andy Schachat, runner and race announcer, and Nancy Eckerson, who writes about running for Seacoast Sunday.

The pair had this to say about our local runners; “On the women's side, Leslie O'Dell, of Albany, had a great year, racing virtually every weekend, again earning New Hampshire Runner of the Year. O'Dell is a versatile runner, excelling on the roads, trails and mountains from 5Ks to marathons. She is hard to beat off-road, winning numerous trail and snowshoe races and the USATF New England Mountain Series. She was the fifth New Hampshire finisher in the Boston Marathon (3:06:49) and at the Mount Washington Road Race (1:31:57), and was second in her age group in the USATF New England Grand Prix, earning "Iron Runner" status by racing all seven events.”

“Jim Johnson of Madison is also a prolific racer. With more than 15 first-place finishes he is a clear choice for New Hampshire Runner of the Year. While he was sidelined by injury in 2015 and continues to be plagued by lingering issues, he is a consistent top performer. He excelled on the roads and particularly in 5Ks this year and won the Seacoast Road Race Series. He was the top New Hampshire finisher at the Mount Washington Road Race and fifth overall (1:07:27) and continues to be a dominant force in snowshoe racing, winning every one he entered.”

The White Mountain Milers Annual Christmas Party was held on Sunday, Dec. 11.  It was a beautiful day, a real snowstorm was anticipated that evening, and the smell of turkey when I pulled into the Dowling’s driveway was unmistakable. The new tradition of the dessert table being of equal proportions to the dinner selections was upheld very well.  
The running and walking adventures began a little past noon and people covered distance from three to who knows how many miles.  Rumor has it that Frank led a group astray and they didn’t care about being lost but were very worried about being the last people in line for food.

After filling our plates and bellies, visiting with new and old friends and laughing a lot, the gifts under the tree were counted and numbers were drawn.  Somehow, our host, Steve Dowling, picked his number last and came away with the coveted number one.

We were fortunate to have the Yankee Swap police watching the gifts.  Ron Newbury and Steve Dowling sat near the Christmas Tree with arms crossed and strained necks trying to keep an eye on the choices. “You touch it, you take it”, was the rule!

Gifts of wine, gift cards, candles, photo coasters, Stabilicers, puzzles and the coveted Jesus pillow, were exchanged with gusto.  Even Octogenarian Martha Chandler’s, “I’ll keep it,” didn’t stop determined MIlers from swapping her gift out.  

A huge “thank you” to Steve and Cathy Dowling for once again hosting another great White Mountain Mealer event!

Next up will be the First Sunday of January Breakfast Run which just happens to land on New Year’s Day.  Rumors of a “Bubbly” water stop have been circulating.

With just over a week until Christmas, clothing czar Frank Holmes can help you out with that hard to buy for athlete on your Christmas list.  You can see Frank at the Wednesday Morning Breakfast Club, or email Frank at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  He’ll be more than happy to help you shop.

A recent letter from Miler President Marianne Jackson was sent to member of the Milers outlining scholarship fund raised by the half marathon race, and plans for next year.  There is the “Feelin’ Good 5K Race planned for April 9, in conjunction with the MWV Chamber of Commerce Chili Cook Off.  Joann Daly and Marianne will be working together to put on a great race.  

On Sunday, July 9, we will see the Cranmore Hill Climb return in its original format for us mere mortals.  The race will only go up the mountain for a 5K distance.  The Cranmore Mountain Race will be held on June 3 with Paul Kirsch, Chris Dunn and Acidotic Racing hosting the race which will be the USATF Mountain Running Championships.  This race will go up, down, up and down for a 10K distance.

The blub is also planning to work with Memorial Hospital in The 100 MIle Club, coaching and mentoring youth in SAU9. Students register and receive recognition for miles run or walked through the spring, summer, and fall, with a goal of 100 miles.

More information on these events will be available soon at and at the annual meeting scheduled for March 7.

If you didn’t get the email with the letter, please go to our Facebook site or

A big congratulations to race director Vin Vaccaro for completing the Daytona 100 Ultra Marathon in less than 24 hours this past weekend.

“Running in the snow has its own special qualities — softness, quiet, the white landscape — and it can make you feel like a kid again.” — anonymous

Upcoming Races and Weekly Runs

All of these events listed are for runners and walkers.

• Every Wednesday, Breakfast Run: 6:45 a.m. walk/run and 7 a.m., with 4-mile and 3-mile loops. Meet behind the Mount Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce. Followed by breakfast at Stairway Cafe.

• Sunday Group Runs: Check or White Mountain Milers on Facebook for details (

• Sunday, Jan 1: White Mountain Milers First Breakfast Run of 2017 (

• Saturday, Jan 14: seventh annual Whitaker Woods Snowshoe Scramble (

Donna Cormier is an avid runner and walker, cyclist, hiker, paddleboarder, skier, and massage therapist with a new office at 50 Seavey Street, NoCo. For more running information, ideas and contributions, race reviews and results, reach Donna at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. See you on the run!