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A shared victory for top female honours in Harvest Festival 25K Road Race


Reisch-MacNeill, Poirier cross finish line together

KENSINGTON – Fellowship was more important than winning for the top female runners in the 45th anniversary of the Harvest Festival 25K Road Race on Saturday morning.

Instead of a sprint to the finish, Dr. Helga Reisch-MacNeill of Kensington and Erin Poirier (nee Callaghan) decided to cross the finish line together and share top honours. They finished in an identical time of one hour 57 minutes 53 seconds (1:57:53) – good for ninth overall in the 49-runner field. Charlottetown’s Leanne Vessey finished right behind with a time of 1:59:31.
“Lee Ann and Erin were ahead of me, and they were chatting the entire way,” said Reisch-MacNeill. “I eventually joined them, we had a great conversation and thanks to those guys I got to finish in under two hours, which is what I was aiming for. It was a good day.”

Click here for story on race's overall winner:

After Vessey, who finished second in the Blue Nose women’s full marathon in Halifax, N.S., in May, dropped back close to the finish due to an injury, it left Reisch-MacNeill and Poirier to decide the women’s winner.

“Helga and I had a little chat, ‘Are we going to race to the line, are we going to cross the line together?,’” explained Poirier, who grew up in Charlottetown but now lives and trains in Halifax.  “I said, ‘I don’t need a glory win here’ and she said, ‘me either.’
“So we crossed the line together. I guess we each get one shoe (referring to post-race prizes for division winners)!”

Dr. Helga Reisch-MacNeill just passes the water station at the 10-kilometre mark of the 45th anniversary of the Harvest Festival 25K Road Race on Saturday morning. Reisch-MacNeill and Erin Poirier crossed the finish line together in one hour 57 minutes 53 seconds (1:57:53) to share top female honours.
Dr. Helga Reisch-MacNeill just passes the water station at the 10-kilometre mark of the 45th anniversary of the Harvest Festival 25K Road Race on Saturday morning. Reisch-MacNeill and Erin Poirier crossed the finish line together in one hour 57 minutes 53 seconds (1:57:53) to share top female honours.

Reisch-MacNeill, who was the top female runner in this race last year in 1:51:49,  added: “Finishing together with someone is really nice. I did that with my sister (Heidi) many years ago (in 2002), and it was fun. It doesn’t matter if you win or lose.
“Most of us runners are competitive about our own times. If you happen to win it’s gravy and it’s nice, but it’s not that important.”

Click here for story on runners welcoming wet conditions:

Race chairman Ivan Gallant confirmed that Reisch-MacNeill and Poirier each received a new pair of running shoes.
“That’s the running community,” said Gallant referring to the sportsmanship shown by Reisch-MacNeill, Poirier and Vessey.
Reisch-MacNeill, 46, and Poirier, 38, quickly found out they, along with Vessey, had lots in common during their conversations along the route.
“We were talking about running, training and kids,” said Poirier, a public health nurse in Halifax and the mother of a four- and six-year-old. “Everyone has kids, and we were talking about fitting in the training and being a mom. We were talking about our passions – kids and running. . .
“We were enjoying it and talking. I just wanted to have a solid training run, and so they did they. We weren’t fiercely racing each other.”

Click here for story on race preview:

Family affair
The race was a family affair for Reisch-MacNeill, who is the mother of four children. Her husband, Steven, and 14-year-old son, Matthew, braved the heavy rain and were volunteering at water stops along the route.
“Just running it in your hometown is important to me, and that’s why I do it because it is my hometown,” said Reisch-MacNeill, who recently began working at a clinic in Summerside and also works in Palliative Care at Prince County Hospital.
This was the first time Poirier ran the Harvest Festival race.
 “The course was great,” she said in a post-race interview with the Journal Pioneer.” It was pretty, it was nice and cool.
“I’m here because I struck a deal with my training partner (Patrick Bryden) that he would help me in the Gold Cup Trot (five-kilometre event in Charlottetown on Aug. 17), and in return I would come here and race with him (Saturday). I think he may have gotten the better end of the deal. This race is much longer!”
Poirier finished the Gold Cup Trot in 19:08 while Bryden finished the Harvest Festival third overall in 1:40:18.
“I love the P.E.I. race circuit, so I make it home for as many P.E.I. races as I can,” added Poirier.

Jason.simmonds@journalpioneer.com
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