Curtis Wheeler of Buxton made a fine marathon debut at last Sunday’s KeyBank Vermont City Marathon in Burlington. Wheeler, 24, ran 2 hours, 23 minutes 46 seconds (5:29 pace) to finish fourth, and handily beat his goal of sub-2:25.

Having run 1:06:25 at the New Bedford Half Marathon in March — winning the New England championship at the distance there — Wheeler figured his goal was readily achievable. He was, in fact, on pace for 2:21 through 19 miles, he said over the phone on Friday, “and then kind of fell off pace in the last seven miles.”

Those final seven are pretty flat, with more than four of them on the bike path along Lake Champlain, but Wheeler wasn’t helped by running all seven alone — third-place finisher Justin Fyffe (2:22:16) pulled ahead after 19 miles, and fifth-place Mark Miller of New Hampshire (2:25:43) fell back.

Wheeler, a 2008 University of Southern Maine grad who excelled for the Huskies, appears set to join Maine’s exclusive sub-2:20 club in his next marathon, and an Olympic-Trials-qualifying 2:19 is obviously a consideration.

“That’s definitely in my sights, but I’m not sure if I’ll do another one in the fall. I may wait until spring,” Wheeler said. “I’m not in a big rush. I have a lot of time (to develop). You have to be patient for running.”

Wheeler won the Sea Dogs Mother’s Day 5K in 2009 in 15:16, and this year ran 15:03 to finish second to Louie Luchini (14:56). But for now he’s planning on at least a month of downtime, probably followed by Beach to Beacon (which he probably won’t key on) and a fall half marathon (on which he probably will).

A Vermont native, Wheeler works as a research assistant at the Wise Laboratory in Portland and runs for the Massachusetts-based Adidas New England running club. His identical twin, Nick, whom he describes as having “the same speed and everything,” will probably go marathoning in the fall, but lacking the training he wanted, chose not to run Vermont. Instead, he worked the race.

 

FOUR MAINE TEAMS performed with distinction at the Cabot Trail Relay Race in Nova Scotia over Memorial Day weekend, and when it comes to this 17-leg, 298-kilometer event, “perform” is truly the word. Whether it’s two-time Sugarloaf Marathon winner Amanda Labelle of Rockland racing in fishnets, or Margaret Capehart of Bangor cheering so much she lost her voice and couldn’t do her weekly running radio show on WZON, or the Maine Road Hags’ red-and-white-skirted, rude-signed, hockey-themed water stop.

Or Sheri Piers of Falmouth and Kristin Barry of Scarborough pulling double duty on legs, one of the keys to the Road Hags’ course-record victory as they ran 20:03:06, for seventh overall among 70 teams. And that time includes a 10-minute penalty incurred because a runner-dropoff vehicle did not have all four wheels off the road.

The Hags were a nice geographic mix, including Jeanne Hackett (Scarborough) and Christine Reaser (Dayton), Sub 5 President Samantha Matoush and Johanna Szillery of Bangor, Kathleen Bell of Orono, Mattanawcook cross country coach Rosalea Kimball, plus Canadians Michelle Roy, Caroline Schlosser, Marie-Claude Gregorie, Janice Ashworth and Stephanie Bennett.

And then there were the Brian Hubbell-coached Maine-iacs, who posted a brilliant time of 16:47:01, better than the previous course record of 16:54:13. But the Dennis Fairalls Grey Hair team spoiled it all, setting the record by running 16:16:45 and taking first place overall.

Which in no way diminishes the performance of the Maine-iacs, a Downeast/Bangor/Bar Harbor collection of ringers. Doubling for the team were Erik McCarthy, Mike Bunker and Bob Gomez. Their mates were Josh Zolla, Emery Bickford, Rick Chalmers, Judson Cake, Ty Thurlow, Jeff Ashby, Steve McCarthy, Adam Goode, Knud Hermansen, Tim Wakeland and Jeremy Lisee.

Finishing 15th overall, in 23:03:21, was Rhino Redux, a mixed team also generated upstate/upcoast, and with a strong family element. Among the runners were Almys from Bangor (dad Chris, who was team manager; son Amos, daughter Rachel); and Peckenhams from Orland, with dad John running the final leg, son James finishing third in his leg, plus twins Sally and Phoebe; and two Stockleys, Alan and Bernice.

 

John Rolfe of Portland is a staff writer and a road runner. He can be reached at 791-6429 or at:

[email protected]