By Lloyd Jones
CONWAY — Straw was the chapeau of choice by a host of runners at the 31st annual Cranmore Hill Climb on Sunday. The straw hats were worn during the 3.1-mile race at Cranmore Mountain Resort in North Conway to honor the late Jim Soroka.
Soroka was an inspiration to those in the community who ran, biked, and swam. He encouraged athletes of all abilities as friend, mentor, coach and volunteer.
Soroka, 69, of North Conway, died in a cycling accident in Evans Notch on Aug. 20. He competed in the legendary Iron Man Triathlon World Championships in Hawaii in 2012. He also was among the founders of the White Mountain Aquatic Foundation, serving as a director for the organization.
While Mountain Miler Donna Cormier was named the first recipient of the Jim Soroka Spirit Award during post-race festivities.
“Donna was an excellent choice,” Bernie Livingston, longtime coach of the Milers, said. “She has the same love of the sport that Jim had.”
“It was a really great race,” Livingston added. “There were 95 runners and walkers, which was a great turnout. The weather was perfect, and a bunch of people wore straw hats to commemorate Jim. I’m not sure things could have gone any better.
All proceeds from this year’s climb will be donated to the Gretchen B. Hatch Scholarship Fund. This fund awarded $9,000 in scholarships to six Kennett High School seniors last month and has awarded over $50,000 in the past 10 years.
As for the race itself, Sunday marked the first competitive race for Conway’s Tim Livingston, age 43, in more than a year. The Kennett Middle School cross-country running coach came out of retirement and proved he’s still fleet of foot, winning race in 23:41.
Madison’s Andrew Drummond, 36, was second in 24:57, while Paulo Amaral of Lowell, Mass., rounded out the top three in 26:15.
Former US Ski Team member Hilary McCloy, 34, of Madison was the fastest female, crossing the finish line in 29:48, for eighth place overall.
Sarah Bolthrunis, 30, of Somerville, Mass., was the second fastest female and 11th overall in 32:12. Freddie Triback, 45, of Gloucester, Mass., was the third woman to finish, placing 14th overall in 32:44.
Other local finishers included: Paul Bazanchuk, seventh, 29:16; Ronald Robichaud, 15th, 32:50; Sam Abbott, 18th, 33:29; Erin Yelle, 19th, 33:31; Jeffrey Yelle, 20th, 34:11; Art Viens, 22nd, 34:35; Kimberly Proulx, 23rd, 34:37; Marc Martin, 24th, 35:54; Bob Schor, 25th, 36:01; Emily Wirling, 27th, 36:26; Kolbe Delafontaine, 28th, 36:29; Dave McDermott, 29th, 36:39; Joe LaRue, 30th, 37:08; Jacques Couture, 31st, 37:23; Meg Simone, 32nd, 37:46; Bill Earle, 33rd, 37:54; Brian Fitzgerald, 34th, 37:55; Ashley Benes, 35th, 38:26; Mike Bryan, 38th, 39:32; Richie Girouard, 39th, 39:41; Doug Armstrong, 40th, 39:44; John Mahany, 42nd, 40:02; Doug Demars, 43rd, 40:08; Brian Otis, 49th, 41:59; Bob Benes, 51st, 42:20; Skip Spadaccini, 52nd, 43:36; Heather Tilney, 53rd, 43:39; Tracy Marnich, 54th, 44:36; Sara Holtby, 55th, 45:04; Joe Fay, 56th, 45:05; Christie Girouard, 57th, 45:28; Ruth Hamilton, 60th, 45:45; Sondra Love, 61st, 46:18; Margie Riforgito, 63rd, 46:59; John Howe, 65th, 47:26; Suzanne Young, 66th, 47:32; Gretchen Loeffler, 67th, 49:08; Karen Eisenberg, 68th, 49:16; Alyssa Delafontaine, 69th, 49:22; Kevin Callahan, 73rd, 50:10; Debbie Howe, 74th, 50:27; Claudia Leonard, 75th, 50:30; Matteo Lentini, 77th, 51:13; Tony Federer, 78th, 51:37; Suzanne McCarthy, 79th, 53:15; Judy Yeary, 80th, 53:51; Bob Mallon, 81st, 53:58; Jean Lee, 83rd, 55:51; Leah Twombly, 84th, 57:16; Irene Jacintho, 85th, 58:31; Michael Ricci, 86th, 1:00:56; Kate Ricci, 87th, 1:00:58; Leone Dyer, 88th, 1:02:47; Daniel Dyer, 89th, 1:02:48; Hannah Kelsch, 90th, 1:08:29; Brian Farrell, 91st, 1:08:30; Leah Kelsch, 92nd, 1:08:31; and Frank Holmes, 95th, 1:16:46.
Awards were given to age group winners for both walkers and runners. The first 100 entrants received a commemorative pint glass.
Post-race festivities also included a breakfast of homemade granola with fresh strawberries.