Canada’s Rachel Hannah (16:37) And Iona Alum Mitch Goose (23:46) Win B.A.A. Mayor’s Cup XC Meet At Franklin Park

By Chris Lotsbom, @ChrisLotsbom
(c) 2014 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved
October 26, 2014

BOSTON — Canada’s Rachel Hannah and Great Britain’s Mitch Goose won the 24th Mayor’s Cup Cross Country meet presented by the B.A.A. here in Franklin Park under gray skies, earning $600 a piece. Hannah took the women’s 5-K crown in 16:37, while Goose claimed victory in the men’s 8-K with a time of 23:46.

As the women’s race began, all eyes were on Team New Balance’s Abbey D’Agostino, making her professional racing debut in her home state. The 2013 NCAA Cross Country Champion proudly sported her new New Balance kit, racing up front through the mile in 5:17. Joining her were Hannah, as well as the Boston Athletic Association’s Juliet Bottorff, Jen Rhines, Sarah Pagano, and Elaina Balouris.

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Rounding White Stadium and entering the Bearcage Hill loop, it was Hannah making a somewhat surprising move. Although she has represented Canada on the world stage at last year’s IAAF World Cross Country Championships, a majority of the spectators gathered at Franklin Park were surprised to see Hannah –and not D’Agostino– emerge from the downhill out front. One could hear fans asking fellow spectators “Do you recognize her? Any idea who she is?”

“I had that second gear after about a mile and picked it up,” Hannah, 28, later told reporters. “I haven’t actually been to Boston before and this is my first time.”

Through two miles in 10:40, Hannah had two steps on D’Agostino. Confident in her abilities, Hannah remained stoic at the head of the field, running smoothly despite the windy conditions.

“I just felt really strong coming in here,” said Hannah. “I felt like I had a lot in there so if someone was real close to me I’d be able to pick it up.”

Widening her lead in the final kilometer, Hannah would go on to win in 16:37. She’d tell reporters that the victory was meaningful considering she had heard lots about this cross country meeting, which lists past champions like Lynn Jennings and Kim Smith.

“It’s huge! It’s a huge honor and I’m really, really happy,” said Hannah. “It’s quite an honor to win here… I’ve heard about this race and have been running for a long time, and wanted to come find a competitive race to start off my cross country season.”

Hannah will now focus on the Ontario Cross Country Championships; her ultimate goal is to represent Canada again at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships, and eventually at the Pan-Am Games and IAAF World Outdoor Championships next year.

Behind Hannah, the B.A.A.’s Bottorff and Rhines (40) would catch and pass D’Agostino for second and third positions, respectively, timing 16:47 and 16:48. D’Agostino was fourth in 16:48, a satisfactory debut according to the Dartmouth College graduate.

“I’ve been kind of surprised a little bit at how [the transition from college to professional] has gone,” said D’Agostino, speaking softly but honestly. “It’s hard. It’s a hard feeling.”

The B.A.A. would put three more athletes in the top ten, solidifying an easy team win with 15 points.

“As a team we surpassed our goal and we all stayed together for a good portion of the race, which was an awesome feeling because we kept hearing people cheer for the B.A.A.,” said Katie Matthews, eighth in 17:02.

“It was definitely a hometown advantage,” added Pagano, who was fifth in 16:53.

On the men’s side, Mitch Goose returned to Boston hoping to improve upon his third place finish from 2013.

Racing conservatively through the opening miles, Goose kept his eyes on ZAP Fitness’s John Simons, an athlete he’d raced in college and one whom he thought would be a key factor in the race’s development. By three miles, though, Goose felt as if it was his time to go. Surging and going by Reebok’s Bobby Mack, Goose took the pole and would not look back.

“I started to make a move. I was going to wait until four [miles], but I felt really comfortable and was like ‘I’ll see what these guys are made of,'” said Goose, who graduated from Iona College and now is a volunteer assistant coach at his alma matter. “I broke away fairly steadily and I just tried to maintain. I felt pretty comfortable.”

Goose broke the tape first in 23:46. On his vest was a hand-drawn logo for the recently formed club called The Manhattan Project, which features a few former Iona student-athletes. The logo is that of a atom.

“It was lovely and it was good to come out here as a team,” said Goose. “There were some really fast guys in that race.”

Mack would finish second in 23:50, with the B.A.A.’s Ethan Shaw ten seconds adrift in third.

Shaw would help the B.A.A. sweep the team titles, as the host squad scored 30 points. Second in the team standings was The Manhattan Project with 58.