Steve Brightman of Providence, R.I., was first to the finish of the Martha’s Vineyard 20-Miler on Saturday morning with a time of 1:59.09. Lori Kingsley of Wysox, Pennsylvania, was the first woman to break the tape with a time of 2:19.28. For a race that comes with a “No Weenies” slogan, the 40 degrees and sunny skies for the annual race set the stage for runners to push and battle only themselves and not the weather, unlike some frigid and rainy race days in many of the years past.
“The course and weather was just beautiful,” Kingsley said. “Normally when you’re running along a beach you get a bad wind, but it was pretty minimal. Sometimes I wanted to stop and just take in the views so the long trip up here was really more than worth it.”
The race gun went off at the Steamship Authority terminal in Vineyard Haven at 11 am and the charge of runners, some in shorts or T-shirts, began their 20-mile trek in front of a cheering crowd of supporters. The course took runners to the historic Oak Bluffs gingerbread cottages, down scenic Beach Road, across farming areas of Edgartown, and through the Manuel F. Correllus State Forest to the finish at the Oak Bluffs School.
“We have local runners who have come back every year for the past 20 years or so as well as a lot of people from all over who want to come run here,” race director Todd Cleland said. “I think there’s something special about the Island because a lot of times the weather is less than favorable and they just keep coming back.”
Bill Tescheck, a timer from Granite State Race Services, has been working the race since 2012 and called this year’s conditions “the best he’s seen it,” citing 2015 when the race was canceled because there was too much snow on the ground and 2016 when it had to be shortened because of extreme cold. “Every year [the weather] seems to precipitate and it’s cold. This is very unusual,” he said.
The Amity Island Relay component included teams of two with each member running 10 miles. The Schragers of Somerville was the first place overall relay team and was a co-ed pairing (2:10.52). The Heartbreakers of Boston was the first place female relay team (2:17.31) and the Land Sharks of Arlington was the first place male relay team (2:18.04).
All proceeds of the race will go to MV Youth Hockey and other youth Island organizations. “This race is founded on the idea that we need to do whatever we can do to benefit our youth programs,” said Cleland.