Allison Carr finished a decade of domination just like she started it – by winning a championship.
Carr captured her eighth News’ Runner of the Year title when she won the 2013 crown. It bookends nicely with her first victory in the series, which came in 2003. Her age-group may have changed, but the results are similar.
Admittedly, the series isn’t the only possible way to identify the area’s best runner. But Carr certainly has shown over the years that she deserves to be in the conversation with the area’s all-time best females in the sport.
On the men’s side, Chris Walters and Vasilis Kariolis finished in a tie for the top spot. Therefore, all three will receive trophies in recognition of their achievements. We’ll hear from Walters and Kariolis in two weeks.
It’s not easy to be competitive in running for a long period of time. Age obviously plays a role after a while, but life gets in the way as well. Carr has noticed both of those in recent years as she’s gone from her mid-20s to her mid-30s, but she still had enough in the tank to win again.
“It was an up-and-down year,” she said. “I was healthy at times, then I’d get exhausted. So I’d rest and get healthy. It was up and down.
“Do you get used to that? I don’t know. It’s tough to juggle things, going from place to place.”
Most of the juggling centers on her two children. Gary is 11 and Caleb is 7.
“You have to give a little bit somewhere, what with the kids, work and all,” Carr said. “It’s hard to train, work and do family things. The kids have been super. They keep me going, and give me good balance.
“I’ve missed a couple of games here and there. Sometimes on Saturday mornings, I’ll just tell everyone to just sleep in, because we all need the rest.”
Carr’s family has grown accustomed to Mom taking part in races. Several years ago, Gary learned how to say “Rochester” quite early in his life because his parents were driving there frequently for Carr’s races.
What’s more, Gary and Caleb grew up not merely hoping Mom would win races. They more or less expected it.
“They got used to it,” Carr said. “It’s tough. I like to have them see me win, but they put a lot of pressure on me. Gary was used to thinking that Mom just comes in first, and that’s what always happened. That’s a tough spot. If I was second, I’d almost be in the doghouse.
“I knew there would be a time that I wouldn’t be winning all the time, and I had to accept that. … Now when I’m going to a race and I don’t think I’m going to win, I tell them, ‘You might not want to go to this one.’ ”
Carr decided not to go all-out for the entire year in 2013, taking a bit of a break during the year-long competition. She says sometimes her body told her to back off a bit, and she listened.
Still, she won one event in the series, and finished second five other times. The East Aurora High graduate even picked up a fifth-place finish in the Fleet Feet 15K Run into Buffalo, even though long distances aren’t her specialty.
“That was just for fun,” she said. “I went with a friend. I looked at her and said, ‘If you need to go ahead, go ahead.’ She said the same thing. We hung with each other for about seven miles, then I opened it up and grabbed a couple of people in the end.”
With the 2013 results in the book, there’s one last obvious question: How long can Carr keep doing this?
“We’ll see. I’m taking it as it comes,” she said. “I can’t be as competitive as before; I’m not running the times I used to. If I can run a decent time for my age, I can accept that.
“For the series, I’ll say that I don’t know if I’ll be getting into it for the next year, but I keep going back. I have a hard time not competing. It’s fun to run hard.”
The top 10 overall finishers and the top three runners in each age-group receive certificates; winners should send email addresses to the name below. As usual, thanks to Jeff John of buffalorunners.com for keeping track of the scoring of the series. He’s the best.
• Habitat for Humanity Christmas 4 Mile Run, Niagara Gorge Discovery Center in Niagara Falls, 10 a.m. on Dec. 14, 285-2877.
• Freezer 5K, 49 Illinois St. in Buffalo, 11 a.m. on Dec. 15.
• Caroler 5K Run, 206 Main St. in East Aurora, 10 a.m. on Dec. 21, 830-6713.