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Local runners bring home trophies from Burlington to Collinsville Classic

Unionville’s Rebecca Stephenson wins the 2018 Burlington to Collinsville Classic Sunday morning in the rain.

CANTON, May 6 – It was raining Sunday morning and more than 700 runners ran the third annual Burlington to Collinsville Classic 10K (6.2 miles) road race that finished over the railroad bridge in Collinsville.

The steady rain didn’t bother Unionville’s Rebecca Stephenson. Just a few weeks earlier, she completed the Boston Marathon in brutal conditions – constant rain, wind blowing into the faces of the runners and temperatures in the mid 30s.

“It makes a race like this easier by comparison,” she said. Stephenson was the top woman in the 6.2 mile race with a time of 42:11, more than a minute ahead of Southington’s Kristin Lopa.

The overall winner of the race was former Lewis Mills runner Tyler Lyon of Harwinton, who set a record for margin of victory in the race. He raced away from the pack early and finished with a winning time of 33:31, more than six minutes ahead of Kelly Barto of Torrington.

For the third straight year, the race was sold out with 875 entrants in the race. A race record 744 runners finished the race, held in steady rain with temperatures in the mid 50s.

Runners come across the railroad bridge into Collinsville. Nealry 750 runners completed the 6.2 mile race Sunday.

The race, which is hosted by the Hartford Marathon Foundation, began at the Lake Garda School in Burlington and joined the Farmington Valley River trail in Farmington, raced along the Farmington River in Burlington and concluded in Collinsville.

Stephenson won’t forget the brutal conditions in Boston just a few weeks ago. The rain, wind and cold were relentless. There was no getting dry until the race was complete. Still, she finished with a time of 3:22.09.

Stephenson, who has been competing as a runner and triathlete for 30 years, started fast Sunday at the Burlington to Collinsville Classic and was still in sight for Lopa after four miles. But Stephenson began to pick up the pace and pulled away, finishing 12th overall in the field. “This was a cooling rain,” she said of the precipitation.

A certified USA Triathlon coach since 2011, Stephenson co-leads and coaches a local running club called Valley Runners. She is also the race director of the most established children’s triathlon series in Connecticut – the Kids Who Tri Succeed triathlon series.

The first of three events in the 2018 series — a biking and running duathlon — was held on April 14 on the Farmington River Trail. “This is close to my heart,” she said, referring to running and competing on the Farmington River Trail.

Harwinton’s Tyler Lyon (415) won Sunday’s Burlington to Collinsville Classic by more than six minutes.

Lyon is no stranger to the Farmington River Trail, either. When he tires of running hills in Litchfield or Harwinton and is looking for a nice flat course, he comes to run along the river on the trail.

Lyon competed in track and field and cross country at Lewis Mills, graduating in 2011. He went to UConn and graduated a year ago. He didn’t compete with the college track and field program but continued to run. Lyon ran the New Jersey Marathon in Oceanport a week ago and finished with a time of 2:28.58.

“I’ve been wanting to do this race for a while since it is so close,” he said. “I ran a marathon last week so I wasn’t expecting to PR (run a personal-best time for 6.2 miles) but I did by nine seconds.

Lyon said he likes to size up the competition for the first mile or so and take it from there. But he got a bit excited at the downhill start and ran hard from the beginning. No one followed with him and he never slowed down.

His winning time of 33:31 is the second fastest time in race history – behind the race record time of 32:20 set by Coventry’s Alec Norstrom a year ago. Lyon beat Torrington’s Kelly Barto by 6:14.

These women and friends from the greater Southington area ran in the Burlington to Collinsville Classic and each finished in the top three of their respective age group. Southington’s Kristin Lopa, far right, finished second in the women’s overall race.

The first runner from Avon across the line was Xufeng Dai, a junior at Avon Old Farms from Wenzhou, China, who finished fourth with a time of 41:02. A day earlier he was running at the Founders League championship meet at Westminster School in Simsbury.

He was part of a small contingent of athletes from Avon Old Farms including John Bourgault, the school’s Director of Athletics who encouraged participation in the race, Chris Doyle, an assistant coach on the track and team and AOF sprinter Po Lam Fung, a sophomore from Shanghai, China.

The first woman from Avon to cross the finish line was Amanda Glickenhaus, 35, who finished with a time of 51:27.

The first runner from Canton was Jennifer Rottkamp, 43, who finished 28th with a time of 44:03. The first male runner from Canton was 14-year-old John Holowesko, who finished 37th with a time of 44:45.

Burlington’s Brian Bartlett (859) and Middlefield’s Joe Carta (863) had a good time despite the rain in Sunday’s Burlington to Collinsville Classic.

2018 Burlington to Collinsville Classic
At Collinsville
Top 25 finishers
Winner — Tyler Lyon, Harwinton, 33:31 for 6.2 miles; 2. Kelly Barto, Torrington, 39:45; 3. Brendan O’Rourke, Windsor, 40:20, 4. Xufeng Dai, Avon, 41:02, 5. Eric Gamari, Torrington, 41:13, 6. David Weaver, Burlington, 41:16, 7. Stephen Brookes, Burlington, 41:17; 8. George Duman, Groton, 41:19, 9. Edward Sweeney, Hebron 41:24, 10. Mitchell McCall, Natick, MA 41:25, 11. Nitesh Roncone, Easthampton, MA 41:26, 12. Rebecca Stephenson, Unionville, 41:43; 13. Jorge Rabat, Jr., West Hartford, 41:43, 14. Atul Tomar, Unionville, 42:13, 15. Brian Kugel, Rocky Hill, 42:16; 16. John Sudol, Morris, 42:33; 17. Francis Amara, Unionville, 42:34; 18. James Drummond, Plantsville, 42:39, 19. Kristin Lopa, Southington, 43:05, 20. Brittany Sarza, Manchester, 43:15, 21. Mike Dunlap, East Granby, 43:25, 22. Timothy Brodeur, Avon, 43:33; 23. Dominick Baraiolo, Bristol, 43:38, 24. Bryan Cassidy, Bristol, 43:49, 25. Amanda Lynch, Wolcott, 43:49

Top 15 women
Winner – Rebecca Stephenson, Unionville, 42:11 (12th overall); 2. Kristin Lopa, Southington, 43:34 (19); 3. Brittany Sarza, Manchester, 43:58 (20); 4. Amanda Lynch, Wolcott, 44:18 (25), 5. Andrea Fenton, West Hartford, 44:19 (26), 6. Sarah Michaud, Bristol, 44:34 (28); 7. Jennifer Rottkamp, Canton, 44:35 (29), 8. Jennifer Stack, Danbury, 45:20, 9. Emily Turner, West Hartford 45:48; 10. MaryKate Conboy, West Hartford, 46:34, 11. Courtney Campbell, Middlebury, 46:41, 12. Gina Levesque, Plantsville, 47:26; 13. Jeanne Corey, Winsted, 47:39; 14. Brigit Hogan, Burlingotn, 47:51, 15. Shauna Falvey, 48:05

Avon’s Gregory Russo III (597) kicks up some water as he races toward the finish line at the Burlington to Collinsville Classic Sunday morning.

2018 Burlington to Collinsville Classic results

Race photos: 2018 Burlington to Collinsville Classic
More will be posted on Sunday and Monday


Gerry deSimas, Jr., is the editor and founder of The Collinsville Press. He is an award-winning writer and has been covering sports in Connecticut and New England for more than 40 years. He was inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2018.

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