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Local runners shine in drizzly Dandelion Run

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DERBY — Two runners from Jeffersonville claimed top honors at the 16th Annual Dandelion Run held on Saturday, under cloudy skies with intermittent drizzle. Jacob O’Connor, 35, won the men’s half marathon with a time of 1:38:45, while Alice McCormick, 39, took first place among the women with a time of 1:46:30. Both winners received a pound of Brault’s Beef Jerky and a gallon of Couture’s Maple Syrup.

Five runners from Jeffersonville and five from Bethlehem, New Hampshire, who participated under the team name Thursday Evening Gossip Squad, competed in the race. Prizes for the top three finishers included beef jerky, maple syrup, a CNB camel pack, and Mead Hill Manor Maple Sauces and Steak Rub provided by Community National Bank.

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Myriam Veilleux of Newport signed up for the 10 km race but decided to continue running at the 10 km turnaround, finishing in the middle of the half marathon pack.

Tahira Bland, 46, of Smyrna, Georgia, set a record for the slowest completion of the half marathon with a time of 4:38:06, earning her a quart of Couture’s Maple Syrup, a half-pound of Brault’s Beef Jerky, and a goodies bag filled with Mead Hill Manor products.

Bland, a member of the 50 State Half Marathon Club and the Half Fanatics, was also recognized as the participant who traveled the furthest, receiving a copy of “Where the Rivers Flow North” by Howard Frank Mosher.

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The 10 km race was won by 17-year-old Alan Espirito Jr. with a time of 40:30. Ivy Croteau, 29, of Newport was the first woman to finish the 10 km race with a time of 50:53.

In the Four Mile Run, Nick Brown, 27, of Essex Junction won among adults with a time of 33:17, while Heather LeBlanc, 36, of Newport Center finished first among the women with a time of 35:01.

Teagan Schneider, 10, of Newport won among boys with a time of 38:35, and there was a three-way tie among the girls with Louisa Duncan, 11, McKenna Flint, 10, and Sofia Daniels, 10, all finishing in 48:51.

In the 2-mile race, Carter Vallieres, 11, of Orleans was the fastest overall, finishing in 23:05. The event saw strong participation from youth runners, with 32 young participants from various locations, including Troy, Newport, Craftsbury, Derby Line, Orleans, West Charleston, and Winooski.

The Dandelion Run is held in memory of Terri Weed, who was murdered at age 15 by her boyfriend. This year, the event raised $1,825 for Umbrella, an organization supporting victims of violence, bringing the total amount raised over the past 10 years to $15,311.

The race was sponsored by Community National Bank, which provided refreshments and staffed support tables. The event featured live music along the course, enhancing the runners’ experience.

The annual event also honored the late Anita Gariepy, a dedicated volunteer known for her spirited support at the 10 km turnaround point. The race concluded with a celebratory pasta dinner at the EastSide Restaurant in Newport, featuring music by Patti Casey and Tom MacKenzie.

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