Falmouth Notebook

Donaghue has quite a time

UMass product takes second in women’s race

By John Powers
Globe Staff / August 10, 2009

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FALMOUTH - Rebecca Donaghue’s running renaissance continued yesterday as the UMass grad and Stow native finished second to Mamitu Daska in the best placement by an American woman since Kate O’Neill was runner-up to Alevtina Ivanova in 2004.

“I just felt great from the start,’’ said Donaghue, who finished 10th last year.

Donaghue, who finished fifth in the 5,000 meters at the US championships, spent much of the summer on the track in Europe, setting personal bests in both the 5,000 (15 minutes 34 seconds) and 1,500 (4:12.07) before returning to place fifth in the Beach to Beacon 10K in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, Aug. 1. “I saved enough for today,’’ said Donaghue, now, at 33, a Penn State grad student.

Donaghue, who was in fourth place at 4 miles, moved up steadily, finished in 37:14, and earned a $10,000 paycheck - $5,000 for placing second and $5,000 as the top US finisher.

Plan accordingly
Next year’s race will be held a week later, on Aug. 15, to avoid conflicting with the Beach to Beacon. Traditionally, the Maine event (a.k.a. “Joanie’s Race’’) is held on the first Saturday of the month and Falmouth on the second Sunday, but the 2010 calendar would have put them on adjacent days. “Joanie [Benoit Samuelson] moved last time,’’ said race co-director Rich Sherman. “It’s our turn.’’

The race’s Big 3 - Olympic marathon champions Samuelson and Frank Shorter plus Bill Rodgers - all made it to the finish line yesterday in various degrees of distress. Samuelson, who won the race six times between 1976 and 1985, finished 18th in the women’s race (41:27), behind son Anders (39:28) but ahead of husband Scott (49:48).

Rodgers, battling a return of his plantar fasciitis, ran 51:25. “Long day at the office,’’ said the three-time winner, “but hey, it’s Falmouth.’’

And Shorter, who had bunion surgery on his left big toe for the third time in February, did an untimed fun run. “I was just happy nothing hurt,’’ said the two-time victor.

Congested start
Meb Keflezighi, who finished fifth in the men’s race, had sensed that it wouldn’t be his day after developing congestion en route from California and briefly considered scratching. “But I’d made the trip and the crowd was anticipating seeing me, so I was going to run,’’ said Keflezighi, who’d been second the last two years . . . Colleen De Reuck, the four-time Olympian and two-time winner here, hit the trifecta. The 45-year-old De Reuck, who ran 37:40, earned $1,000 for finishing fifth in the women’s race, another $3,000 as the second American, and $2,500 as top master . . . James Koskei, the 2002 champion, won the men’s master’s crown and Krige Schabort and Jessica Galli were the wheelchair winners . . . At a time when many corporate sponsors are dropping sports events, CIGNA has signed on for a fifth year for 2010. The race is “a healthy life event,’’ said Mark Marsters, vice president of operations for the global health services company, which also sponsors the Disney Marathon . . . Yesterday’s decidedly breezy and warm but unmuggy conditions made for an uncrowded postrace medical tent. “Very, very light,’’ reported race co-director John Carroll. The weather was a vast improvement on the sloshfest 10 years ago, where runners splashed through puddles. “Three feet of water in the finish chutes,’’ remembered then-volunteer Travis Ruhl, now an Air Force major who came in from Phoenix to run yesterday. “It was complete chaos.’’ . . . For the first time in several decades, the race’s traditional taped bugler’s call to post at the Woods Hole start was performed live. Falmouth high schooler Jay Souweine did the honors.

John Powers can be reached at