With five races down and three left to go – including one in Auburn later this month – the Greater Derry Track Club (GDTC) is within striking distance of a fourth consecutive Grand Prix Championship.
The New Hampshire Grand Prix is an annual road-running racing series for the running clubs of New Hampshire. The clubs compete against each other in a series of road races spread throughout the racing season. In addition, runners who complete every race in the series in a given year are granted the coveted “Granite Runner” status.
With five races now completed, the three-time defending Grand Prix champs from the GDTC find themselves 33 points behind the series-leading leaders from the Upper Valley Running Club of Lebanon, but 125 points ahead of the third-place Gate City Striders from Nashua.
Upper Valley has a team point tally of 763, the Greater Derry group has 730, and the Gate City contingent has a score of 605. Nine Granite State running clubs participate in the 2015 series.
Race number six in the series will be the New Hampshire 10-Miler in Auburn on Aug. 29. That event will be followed by the Convenient MD 10K in Windham on Sept. 27 and the series-ending White Mountain Milers’ Half Marathon in North Conway on Oct. 25.
Since 2009, either the GDTC or the Gate City Striders have collected all of the Grand Prix crowns, with the Nashuans winning in 2009 and 2011, and the Greater Derry bunch bagging the win in 2010, 2012, 2013, and 2014.
The Greater Derry Track Club has notched team victories in each of the last two 2015 Grand Prix events, compiling winning scores at the Ribfest 5-Miler in Merrimack on June 21 and at the Bill Luti 5-Miler in Concord on July 18.
The local club – which boasts members from throughout parts of Southern New Hampshire and northern Massachusetts – turned out more than 50 runners to participate in the Concord race, and that crew collected 153 points to outdistance the Gate City Striders (140) and Upper Valley (139).
Derry’s Charlie Bemis and Sachiko Burkinshaw and Bob and Maureen Knepp of Londonderry were just a few locals who competed for the Greater Derry crew on that muggy day.
A month earlier at the RibFest 5-Miler, the GDTC crew scored a winning tally of 156 points, with Upper Valley (116) and Gate City (113) a distant second and third respectively.
Incoming Pinkerton Academy senior and high school distance running star Morgan Sansing of the GDTC placed an impressive 15th out of 1,200 finishers at that major event.
The PA 12th grader is just one GDTC athlete with a Pinkerton connection, and that crew also includes PA coaches Amy Bernard and Rebecca Noe.
Other Derry residents who have been competing in Grand Prix races for the Greater Derry club include Nick and Keith Silva.