He ran a 10K for Central Connecticut State University last fall in the NCAA Division I Northeast Regional cross country championships. Last May, he earned a bronze medal in the 10K on the track at the Northeast Conference championship meet along with bronze medals in the 5,000 meters and 3,000 meter steeplechase.
“It’s kind of a normal distance for me,” Norstrom said. “I like the 10K.”
Norstrom, who is redshirting and not running with the Blue Devils this spring, blew away the field winning the Burlington to Collinsville Classic Sunday morning with a course record time of 32:20, shattering the old record set a year ago by over four minutes.
Burlington’s Mary-Lynn Currier raced out to an early lead, too, and was never caught, winning the race for the second straight year with a new course record time of 39:58.
Nearly 800 runners participated in the sold-out event that began at Lake Garda School in Burlington and joined the Farmington Valley River trail in Farmington. The race concluded in Collinsville. There were 771 finishers.
“The race was awesome,” race director Beth Shluger of the Hartford Marathon Foundation said. When asked what changed from last year, she grinned and said, “Why would change anything that is perfect.” The changes from 2016 were minor. Another 100 runners was allowed to enter the race and the title of the race was modified – appropriately since the majority of the race is run in Burlington.
The race ran smoothly and for Norstrom, it was really a smooth ride. “I think I ran a little quicker than I thought,” he said. “I was alone from the start and I expected than coming in. It was kind of workout for me. I wanted to see where my training is now.”
While he had no runner to work against, Norstrom, 21, chose to chase a volunteer bicyclist that led the way, warning anyone on the Farmington Valley Trial that a road race was on its way.
A year ago, Tolland’s Brett Stoeffler, 50, won the first race – then called the Collinsville Classic. He cut 25 seconds off his time a year ago. “I ran a little faster this year but (Norstrom) killed it,” Stoeffler said. “He just gradually pulled away.” Stoeffler said he was helped by Ellington’s Kevin Vallez, who finished 16 seconds behind him in third place.
“I heard him the whole way,” Stoeffler said. “I had to keep it up. I really wanted to break last year’s time and he helped me.”
Currier, 53, never gave West Hartford’s Heather Szuba a chance to challenger her with a quick start. Currier finished with a time of 39:58 while Szuba was second with a time of 41:45. New Britain’s Mary Valentine was third in 41:51.
“It was beautiful out there,” Currier said. “It was a perfect day for running. It wasn’t the fastest race for me but I am getting older now. I am a grandmaster and I won the overall (women’s) race. That is getting hard to come by now. I’m like Peter Pan. I never grow old.”
Szuba hadn’t a 10K race in a while. “My personal best (46:24) was kind of old,” she said. Szuba took more than five minutes off her best personal time at this distance.
“The course was immaculate. It just has spectacular scenery,” she said. “There are no major hills. It’s a great event.”
For many runners, it wasn’t about winning a race. It was about meeting a challenge, testing themselves to complete the race and enjoying the race course. Much of the race course is along the banks of the Farmington River and fully visible to runners on the trail.
Meriden’s Joy and Arthur Dutra have been walking and cycling along the Farmington Valley trial for years. They come to the Collinsville Farmer’s Market every weekend in the summer and enjoy strolling through the shops in Collinsville.
So when they began to train to run a half marathon in Australia, one of the races they penciled into their schedule was the Burlington to Collinsville Classic. “It’s so scenic and beautiful,” Joy Dutra said.
Nine-year-old Ethan Boisvert of Hebron came with his mother, Jessica, and was a last-minute fill-in for his father, who couldn’t run due to a change in plans. But Ethan was pleased to run a 10K for the first time. He was further pleased when he won the boys under 9 division.
The Boisvert family used to live in Burlington before they moved to Hebron. “We love it here,” Jessica said. “The trail is awesome and such a good place for running.”
Martel Transportation provided all of the participants a bus ride to the start while the newly-reopened Crown and Hammer provided chili and corn bread to all of the runners after the race. Runners donated a table full of food for the Canton Food Bank.
NOTES: There were 685 finishers a year ago. This year, there were 771 runners that completed the race. It the largest road race to be held in town. … The first Canton runner was Patrick McCue in 18th place while the first woman from Canton to complete the race was Jennifer Rottkamp in 44th place in 44:25. The first Avon runner was Peter Lee in 17th place while the first woman from Avon to finish was Joy Sieklucki in 49:50 (138th place). … We will be posting additional race photos at our new SmugMug site shortly.
Burlington to Collinsville Classic
Individual results – 1. Alex Norstrom, Coventry, 32:20 for 6.2 miles, course record. Old record, Brett Stoeffler, Tolland 36:23, 2016; 2. Brett Stoeffler, Tolland, 35:58, 3. Kevin Vallez, Ellington, 36:14, 4. Ismail Orabi 36:50, 5. Joseph Schippani, Manchester, 36:55, 6. James Thompson, Bristol, 38:02, 7. Russell Blatt, Glastonbury, 38:08, 8. David Weaver. Burlington, 38:26, 9. Billy Barone, Newington, 38:57, 10. Henry Nguyen, New Britain, 39:05, 11. Mic Medeska, West Hartford, 39:10, 12. Michael Brunoli, Hartford, 39:56, 13. Mary-Lynn Currier, Burlington 39:57, 14. David Fusfeld, Manchester, 40:35, 15. Christopher Rau, Burlington, 40:36; 16. Rob Poudrier, Amston section of Hebron, 40:49, 17. Peter Lee, Avon, 40:57, 18. Patrick McCue, Canton, 41:19, 19. Stephen Brookes, Burlington, 41:28, 20. Piotr Kostyk, Bethel, 41:28
Top 10 women – 1. Mary Lynn Currier (13th overall), Burlington 39:58 for 6.2 miles, new course record. Old record 40:37 by Currier in 2016; 2. Heather Szuba (21), West Hartford, 41:45, 3. Mary Valentine (23), New Britain, 41:51, 4. Susan Mantie (27), New Hartford, 42:43, 5. Suzanne Fortier (34), Middlebury, 43:25, 6. Caitlin Roston (35), Ashford, 43:30, 7. Sarah Hill, Northwood NH, 44:31, 8. Jennifer Rottkamp, Canton, 44:34, 9. Kimberly Driscoll, Fairfield, 45:31, 10. Suzanne Poudrier, Amston section of Hebron, 45:58
Photos at our SmugMug site (Coming Monday PM)