41st Bridge of Flowers Classic: Titles for Serafini, Nedeau

  • Men’s winner Louis Serafini, of Somerville, crosses the finish line with a first-place time of 24:25 during the 41st Bridge of Flowers Road Race Classic on Saturday morning in Shelburne Falls. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Women’s winner Kim Nedeau crosses the finish line with a time of 29:29 during the 41st Bridge of Flowers Road Race Classic on Saturday morning in Shelburne Falls. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Above, Runners make their way up Bridge Street at the beginning of the 41st Bridge of Flowers Road Race Classic on Saturday morning in Shelburne Falls. Below, left, men’s winner Louis Serafini, of Somerville, crosses the finish line with a first-place time of 24:25. At right, women’s winner Kim Nedeau of Leverett crosses the finish line with a time of 29:29. STAFF PHOTOS/DAN LITTLE

  • Runners make their way up Bridge Street at the 41st Bridge of Flowers Road Race Classic on Saturday morning. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Meghan Davis makes her way across the Iron Bridge during the 41st Bridge of Flowers Road Race Classic on Saturday morning in Shelburne Falls. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • A spectator high fives David West as he crosses the Iron Bridge during the 41st Bridge of Flowers Road Race Classic on Saturday morning in Shelburne Falls. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Shelburne Falls’ Dominic Vellucci competes with stroller in tow during the 41st Bridge of Flowers Road Race Classic on Saturday morning in Shelburne Falls. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Davis Bates of Shelburne Falls competes in the 41st Bridge of Flowers Road Race Classic on Saturday morning in Shelburne Falls. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Runners sprint to the finish during the 41st Bridge of Flowers Road Race Classic on Saturday morning in Shelburne Falls. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Erica Liebermann, left, and Barrett Liebermann sprint to the finish during the 41st Bridge of Flowers Road Race Classic on Saturday morning in Shelburne Falls. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Runners make their way across the Iron Bridge during the 41st Bridge of Flowers Road Race Classic on Saturday morning in Shelburne Falls. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Runners make their way down Main Street during the 41st Bridge of Flowers Road Race Classic on Saturday morning in Shelburne Falls. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Men’s winner Louis Serafini, of Somerville, crosses the finish line during the 41st Bridge of Flowers Road Race Classic on Saturday morning in Shelburne Falls. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Men’s winner Louis Serafini, of Somerville, crosses the finish line during the 41st Bridge of Flowers Road Race Classic on Saturday morning in Shelburne Falls. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Men’s winner Louis Serafini, of Somerville, leads the pack at the start of the race en route to a first place finish during the 41st Bridge of Flowers Road Race Classic on Saturday morning in Shelburne Falls. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Runners gather at the starting line on the Iron Bridge during the 41st Bridge of Flowers Road Race Classic on Saturday morning in Shelburne Falls. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Runners flood through Bridge Street at the beginning of the 41st Bridge of Flowers Road Race Classic on Saturday morning in Shelburne Falls. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Staff Writer
Published: 8/11/2019 8:32:03 PM

SHELBURNE FALLS — Saturday’s 41st Bridge of Flowers Road Race featured some of the most talented runners to ever motor through Shelburne Falls, drawing a horde of big-time competitors as part of the New England Championship Race Series.

In a deep and talented field however, Louis Serafini separated himself from the pack.

After the sound of the opening gun went off, the Somerville resident got out to an early lead and never looked back, leading the race in its entirety while finishing with an 8K course record time of 24 minutes, 25 seconds. That smashed the previous record of 25:13 set during last year’s inaugural 8K course by winner Amos Sang.

“I got out fast,” Serafini said. “I was comfortable and made sure I had a good buffer. [Breaking the record] was one of the goals. I was happy to be so far under it. I thought low 24’s today on a good day. I was pleased.”

The 27-year-old kept a blistering pace of 4:55/mile throughout the 8K course. His lead grew as he took the first turn, and he was moving so fast he passed the media truck meant to stay in front of the leader of the pack at another turn.

His lead grew larger as he rounded the corner nearest the finish line, and when he got to Crittenden Hill, he had pulled so far ahead that when he looked back to see where he stood in comparison to his competition, there was no one in sight.

“I was checking to see if I had anyone near me,” Serafini said. “The goal was the get to the top of the hill with as big of a lead as possible. I felt good at that point. It was hard to see how much of a lead I had but at that point, I was nervous my legs wouldn’t come back after the uphill. Once they started to feel good again I knew I was in good shape.”

Even for an experienced runner like Serafini, the course’s daunted hills were a challenge.

“I did not think the hill was going to be as bad as it was,” Serafini said. “It was pretty terrible.”

After completing the hilly portion of the race, Serafini dashed past runners of the 3K charity race, which started an hour earlier. He passed by spectators playing the triangle and drums in front of their houses and zipped into the finish line, finishing well ahead of runner-up finisher Patrick Gregory of Brookline. Gregory crossed in 25:08, which would have been the top finish at last year’s 8K.

Following Gregory at the finish line was William Sanders of Wethersfield, Conn. with a time of 25:25. Ruben Sanca of Andover was the fourth runner to cross the finish line with a time of 25:31, and Benjamin Groleau of Framingham was fifth in 25:31.

Rounding out the top 10 on the men’s side were Eric Ashe (25:47) and Michael Carlone (25:47) of Boston,  Hadley native Brad Mish (25:56), defending champion Sang (25:56) and Bronson Venable (26:00) of Warwick, R.I.

The top local finisher on the men’s side was Mark Rabasco of Greenfield, who took 37th place with a time of 28:03. He was just ahead of Shelburne Falls’ Dan Smith, who was 38th in 28:10.

The women’s race was also filled with talented runners, with an unexpected athlete taking first place.

Kim Nedeau of Leverett signed up for Saturday’s Bridge of Flowers on Wednesday. Better late than never.

A mountain runner, Nedeau is known for being a strong hill runner, finishing third at this year’s Mt. Washington Road Race.

The 40-year-old buzzed through the course, but trailed Jenna Gigliotti of Amherst after Crittenden Hill. The two were well ahead of the rest of the women on the course.

With Gigliotti just ahead, Nedeau made her move.  

“Jenna was leading and I didn’t gain on her but I got her on the downhill,” Nedeau said. “Every time I came up on her it put a little fire under her and she would pick it up. Maybe (three-quarters of a mile) to go I had this mantra and I kept saying ‘Compete, compete, compete,’ and I kept looking at her to see if I could make my move and and see if I could get her. I felt mentally tough today.”

Nedeau was able to pass Gigliotti right near the finish line, coming across with a time of 29:29. That edged the Amherst resident by two seconds to win the women’s race, surprising herself that she had that type of race in her.

“It was unexpected but I’m super happy,” Nedeau said. “I just turned 40 so I feel awesome. I totally shocked myself. I can’t believe it. That was never the goal. My goal was to win (the) 40-plus (division).”

A member of the Western Mass. Distance Project, Nedeau had always wanted to give the Bridge of Flowers a try, but never had the opportunity to run the road race.

She was feeling good this week, and decided to give it a go.

“It’s always been on my bucket list,” Nedeau said. “Every year, I’ve had something that’s kept me from racing. Last year, I joined Western Mass. Distance Project and it’s an important race for them so I wanted to make every effort to be here and help out the team.”

Being a mountain runner, she was able to get through the grinding hills of the Bridge of Flowers with energy left in the tank, allowing her to put it in another gear on the final leg of the course to earn the victory.

“I never run fast because I’m a mountain runner,” Nedeau said. “All of that is off mountain training, just uphill work. This feels so easy compared to running uphill. Uphill running is a full body pain and road racing just doesn’t have the same feeling. It felt different. I ran my hardest and I was hurting bad at the end but it’s a different kind of hurt than uphill racing.”

Following Gigliotti across the finish line was Hannah Rowe of Boston, who finished third with a time of 30:04. Laura Paulsen of Brookline came in fourth with a run of 30:13 and Karen Bertasso, a previous Bridge of Flowers winner, coming in fifth with a 30:23 finish.

The rest of the women’s top 10 was comprised of Jaclyn Solimine of Haverhill (30:25), Kaitlin Sheedy of Arlington (30:41), Colleen Sands of Princeton (30:41), Emily Waligurski of Allston (30:42) and 18-year-old recent Mohawk Trail grad Meghan Davis of Plainfield (31:01). Davis defended her title as top Franklin County finisher on the women’s side.

Montague’s Alexander Davidson Carroll won the 3K Charity Run, as the 15-year-old posted a winning time of 11:52. That was just ahead of Greenfield’s Henry Zaccara (11:53) and Shelburne Falls’ TobyHughes (11:58). Eleanor Yates of Andover was the women’s winner with a time of 14:16.




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