MONTPELIER — No one could beat the heat during Wednesday’s 14th Annual Montpelier Mile.
Ali Dunn and Cullin Burdett just suffered through it faster than anyone else.
There was lots of hometown pride for both runners as they claimed victory among a field of 251 finishers in 82-degree conditions. Burdett finished in 4 minutes, 21.9 seconds to comfortably hold off runner-up Andrew Crompton (4:27.6). Dunn was even more dominant on the women’s side, prevailing in 5:22.3 to outlast second-place finisher Allie Nerenberg (5:38.1).
“I was just trying to stick with the people I was running with and stay strong throughout it,” Dunn said. “This is a short race, thankfully, and you’re able to hydrate a lot beforehand.”
The 6 p.m. start time allowed temperatures to cool down slightly before racers took off outside the Statehouses and headed up State St. There were special “Dash for Cash” prizes handed out to the first male and female runner to reach the quarter-mile mark at the intersection with Main St., so the early pacing was difficult to sustain.
“It was a little overwhelming, but it was also fun just to watch them go that speed,” Dunn said of the Dash for Cash competitors.
Cricket Basa was the first female to reach the 400-meter mark. She is a 2018 MHS grad who earned All-American status for soccer and currently competes for Holy Cross. Her older brothers Caleb and John battled for top honors on the men’s side, with Caleb prevailing to follow up multiple previous victories.
“I actually love the Dash for Cash because they bring it out fast,” said Burdett, who recently finished his collegiate career at Boston University. “Even if you’re feeling sluggish, you just get pulled along. From the gun it was pretty quick, so it was a lot of fun.”
The Basa brothers had no intention of vying for the overall victory, allowing Burdett to quickly pull ahead on Main Street. After reaching the half-mile point at the roundabout, Burdett sped back in the opposite direction and took advantage of his small lead to size up the competition.
“I got out really quick and I was kind of by myself,” the 24-year-old said. “I was a little bit worried that one of those guys was going to come up and get me. I just made sure that when I came around the turnaround that I made a little push. That middle part of the mile is where people can lose it a little bit, so I just tried to push there. And it bought me some time later on.”
Crompton, the reigning Times Argus Runner of the Year, kept Burdett honest along the homestretch. He and Stephen Looke (sixth, 4:51.3) are both U-32 grads who will compete for UVM later this year, and their strong form Wednesday kept things tight at the front of the pack. Tony Pifari rounded out the podium in third (4:32.3), while Harwood athlete Hale Boyden was fourth (4:42.3) and St. Johnsbury standout Evan Thornton-Sherman was fifth (4:46.5).
“On the last turn I looked back just to make sure,” Burdett said. “I don’t know a lot of these guys here but at the turnaround I was like, ‘These guys look pretty fit.’ You’ve just gotta be ready for that, so I was just seeing if I was going to get in any trouble.”
Rounding out the men’s top 10 were Looke, Cormac Leahy (seventh, 4:53.2), Patrick Cioffi (eighth, 4:53.4), Francis Burdett (ninth, 5:00.5) and Justin Magill (10th, 5:02.6).
Francis Burdett is Cullin’s father, and he’s a 1983 Montpelier High School graduate who was a track and field standout for the Solons. Some of Francis Burdett’s former teammates have also returned to Vermont for the Montpelier Mile, which precedes the town’s Independence Day parade.
“He was a big runner,” Cullin Burdett said of his father. “I’ve heard crazy stories about hill repeats over here and and running up Cemetery Hill and all that fun stuff. When I was a little kid I was dragged up there for a run. It’s beautiful up there and I love running it. But when you’re a little kid you’re like, ‘Oh my gosh, this hill is killer.’ But it’s a blast coming back here and I love this race. I know a lot of people are here for the parade. But nonetheless, to have that many people watching you, and just racing, this is right up there with some of the best atmospheres you could get.”
Francis Burdett’s 19-year-old son Gibson placed 53rd in 6:35.4, and his 21-year-old son Addison was 51st (6:34.1). Francis Burdett won the Montpelier Mile in 2009 and 2011 before his oldest son prevailed in 2013.
According to Cullin, keeping up with his father is no easy task.
“He’s crazy,” Cullin Burdett said. “He clobbers miles and he loves the sport. You get the ups and downs as your body gets older, but he still pushes through it all and has some fun with it. And having a dad that runs more miles a week than you is pretty helpful because you’re like, ‘Man, I have to get out the door.’ I couldn’t beat my dad here until I was a senior in high school or something like that, and it was a big deal.”
The power of siblings is a bond Burdett shares with Dunn, who graduated from Montpelier in 2011. Her older sister Mikaela is a 2009 MHS grad, her younger sister Madi graduated in 2014 and their youngest sister Sydney will be a junior at Montpelier.
Ali Dunn competed for the Solons in cross-country running and tennis prior to a successful career at Wellesley College in cross-country and track and field. She’s currently enrolled in medical school and recently began training with the Brooklyn Track Club.
“I just started this winter and there’s a lot of people who are running all different sorts of paces,” Dunn said. “We do Tuesday night track workouts and a Sunday long run. And the rest is just running however high you want your mileage to be. … I did a track workout last week with some 400s and I’m hoping to train a little bit more for this distance.”
MONTPELIER MILE CHAMPIONS
Culin Burdett (4:21) and Ali Dunn (5:22)
Thomas O’Leary (4:27) and Laura Dissly (5:40)
Kameron Ulmer (4:20) and Emma Bates (4:50)
Steven Magnan (4:32) and Meagan Boucher (5:09)
Matt Cheney (4:33) and Christina Supino (5:05)
Peter Maksimow (4:41) and Sophie Smith (5:26)
Cullin Burdett (4:29) and Allie Yanikoski (5:39)
Peter Najem (4:24) and Sophie Smith (5:45)
Francis Burdett (4:34) and Rose Kent (6:08)
George Deane (4:36) and Heidi Westover (4:59)
Francis Burdett (4:33) and Liz Gottleib (5:31)
John Ostler (4:30) and Heidi Westerling (5:10)
Nathan Brigham (4:22) and Heidi Westerling (5:00)