By Nick Curcuru
---- — GLOUCESTER — While running at the College of William and Mary with Gloucester’s Liam Anastasia-Murphy and Andrew Ryan, all Joshua Hardin ever heard was how he needed to visit the city during the St. Peter’s Fiesta and run the Fiesta 5k.
“I had been hearing for four years how great the atmosphere is,” said Hardin, 22, a Sterling, Va. native. “I came up to visit a couple of my college teammates and hopped in the race for a run.”
Hardin didn’t just run the 3.1 mile race through downtown Gloucester, who took home first place with a stellar time of 15:43 best in the field of nearly 500 runners.
A familiar face took first place on the women’s side as Rockport’s Layce Alves won the race for the fifth time with a personal best time of 18:07.
Alves came into the race on a roll having competed in the Mt. Washington Road Race two weeks ago and another race last week. She made her move in the first mile of the race over “Team Gloucester” teammates Regina Loiacano (18:22) and Jenn Brooks (18:45) of Gloucester, who finished second and third respectively. Jennifer Rapaport of Melrose came in fourth (19:16) followed by 14 year old Carly Curcuru of Gloucester (19:38) who recently won the Rockport Father’s Day Road Race.
After mile one, the now five time champ had first place to herself winning by a comfortable margin.
“I just did the Mount Washington Road Race and another race last week so I came to the start having no idea how I would do,” Alves said. “I felt horrible, but the entire race I had my two closest friends and closest competition right on my heels.”
That competition was Loiacano and Brooks, as the three train together regularly. With Thursday’s race taking place in their back yard, there was a little extra motivation to take home a win.
“We are so close right now in our abilities, it’s anyone’s game once we hit the starting line,” Alves said. “We are good friends and we train together but when you tow the line in a local race, with all our families watching and all of us having won this race multiple times, you push a little harder.”
Hardin also has some stiff competition hot on his tail for the duration of the race in William and Mary teammates Alex McGrath, who is also visiting Gloucester from Virginia, and his host Liam Anastasia-Murphy.
Hardin and McGrath stayed together for the first two miles of the race when the eventual victor made his move.
“I wouldn’t call it a big move,” Hardin said. “But I turned it up a little bit.”
Hardin took that increased pace to the finishing line besting his teammate McGrath by just three seconds. William and Mary athletes dominated the top of the field with former current or former runners from the Virginia school finishing in the top five. Anastasia-Murphy finished in third (16:21) followed by Chris Grange of Amesbury (16:47) and Andrew Ryan (16:49).
“It was a lot of fun,” Hardin said. “The race course was definitely more difficult than I was expecting and the atmosphere at the finish line was awesome.”
2013 Fiesta 5K Road Race Results Men Name City Time 1. Joshua Hardin Sterling, Va. 15:43 2. Alex McGrath Williamsburg, Va. 15:47 3. Liam Anastasia-Murphy Gloucester 16:21 4. Chris Grange Amesbury 16:47 5. Andrew Ryan Gloucester 16:49 6. John Ryan Gloucester 16:53 7. Willy Pierce Gloucester 16:55 8. Erich O'Neil Beverly 17:05 9. Kevin Fini Gloucester 17:11 10. Matthew Curran Gloucester 17:19 Women Name City Time 1. Layce Alves Rockport 18:07 2. Regina Loiacano Gloucester 18:22 3. Jenn Brooks Gloucester 18:45 4. Jennifer Rapaport Melrose 19:16 5. Carly Curcuru Gloucester 19:38 6. Courtney Eustace Charlestown 20:53 7. Kaitlin Crowley Beverly 21:04 8. Amanda Burnett Wenham 21:37 9. Katie Ryan Essex 21:47 10. Jennifer Senos Mooresville, NC 21:55