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A Few Good Men win third straight Rum Runners Relay

Thirteen-second margin over Halifax Road Hammers secured in final leg

By Andrew Wagstaff
Maritime Runner
Oct. 1, 2017

LUNENBURG, N.S. – After 70 teams ran 10 legs and 110 kilometres, only 13 seconds separated the top two teams as A Few Good Men captured their third straight Rum Runners Relay.
   The defending champions did not lead the relay at any point until the end, and actually trailed the Halifax Road Hammers by three seconds going into the final leg. That’s when Dan Gorman edged Mark Brown by just under 20 seconds to win what may have been the tightest team finish in the event’s 33-year history.

Greg Wieczorek (left) of A Few Good Men battled Lee McCarron of the Halifax Road Hammers during Leg 4 of the Rum Runners Relay on Saturday, Sept. 30, winning a tight race that proved crucial as his team won the event by a tight 13-second margin for a third straight victory.

Andrew Wagstaff photo

   While Leg 4 was huge, Salter said the real story for his team was the back end of the relay. Heading into Leg 8, they were behind the Road Hammers by three-and-a-half minutes. Andrew Coates started the comeback by gaining more than two minutes on that leg, while John Corbit followed suit by picking up an additional 1:20 on Leg 9, opening the door for Gorman to seal the deal on the last leg.
   “To be fair, we did plan to back load our team like this and the front end held it together enough to give the back end a chance,” he said. “We have nothing but the utmost respect for the Road Hammers. They are a bunch of talented athletes with a great coach, and no doubt we have a lot of work to do between now and next year to win a fourth straight relay win.”
   Overall, McCarron was pleased with the battle and the effort from his runners.
   “I was confident in our team, and I couldn’t have asked any more from each member – everyone ran to their best ability, and gave it everything they had,” he said. “For a race to come down to the final leg, and after 110K only being separated by 13 seconds, is remarkable. It was a great event, and excellent race.”
   A Few Good Men finished the relay with an accumulated time of 6:27:41, followed by the Halifax Road Hammers at 6:27:54. Finishing in third place was the Saint John, N.B.-based team Where’s the Fire, which finished the relay with a time of 7:01:57. All times are considered unofficial until vetted by team captains.
   “It was an awesome day,” said race director Nancy Holland. “It was perfect weather for runners, although maybe a little frosty for the people standing around.”
   Despite traffic snarls in Western Shore and Mahone Bay, she said the event ran fairly smoothly.
   “Mahone Bay was Mahone Bay,” she said. “It’s always like that, whether the Scarecrow Festival is on or not. The traffic is always crazy in Mahone Bay… But it was a really good day.”
   Results will appear on the Rum Runner Relay website when made official, likely within the week.
   “For some of us, this is now the only race we actually race each year, so it is always interesting to see what kind of shape everyone is in,” said Blair Salter, captain of A Few Good Men, a group of past university runners that formed three years ago.
   The day included several memorable battles, including a Leg 4 war of attrition between A Few Good Men’s Greg Wieczorek and Lee McCarron of the Road Hammers. The longest leg of the relay at 17.1K, Leg 4 featured a strong field of runners that also included Bryan Hipson, among others.
   “We knew going into Rum Runners that our teams were very evenly matched but, after Leg 3, ours was down by a few minutes,” said Wieczorek. “That motivated me to want to have a solid run, take back any time I could, and get some momentum going for our team.”
   With McCarron tight on his heels from the start line, Wieczorek tried to push the pace on some of the hillier sections to open a gap, but the Road Hammers coach responded to his every move.
   “Finally, at around 13K, I couldn’t see his shadow any longer and I kept working hard right to Queensland Beach,” said Wieczorek. “I only had about 20 seconds on him, but who knew at the time that was the cushion needed to help my team to get what I am sure is one of the narrowest wins in the event’s history?”
   McCarron said he knew Wieczorek was very fit after training for the marathon at Maritime Race Weekend, and expected that he would be trying to put in a strong effort.
   “I also knew that we were going to have a tight team battle with A Few Good Men, so I needed to try and run a smart race,” he said. “I didn’t think I could beat Greg, as I haven’t been doing the workouts or training that he has been doing, but I knew I could put in a really solid effort, and if I was able to push it, I could try and make sure the gap was minimized.”