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    Thursday, August 11, 2022

    Norstrom, Rafter win Ocean Beach/Kelley Half Marathon

    Runner depart the starting line for the 60th running of the Ocean Beach/John and Jessie Kelley Half Marathon on Saturday, starting and finishing at Ocean Beach Park in New London. Alex Norstrom, of Glastonbury, ran away with the men’s title while Angie Rafter, of Moosup, was the first woman across the finish line. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
    Angie Rafter celebrates as she crosses the finish line to win the women’s division in the 60th running of the Ocean Beach/John and Jessie Kelley Half Marathon on Saturday, starting and finishing at Ocean Beach Park in New London. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
    Alex Norstrom pulls away on his way to winning the 60th running of the Ocean Beach/John and Jessie Kelley Half Marathon on Saturday, starting and finishing at Ocean Beach Park in New London. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
    Luis Obregon Astorga pushes Angel Robles across the starting line for the 60th running of the Ocean Beach/John and Jessie Kelley Half Marathon on Saturday, starting and finishing at Ocean Beach Park in New London. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
    Alex Norstrom (1) passes Scott Bushey (166) and John Snow (797) on Great Neck Rd. In Waterford during the 60th running of the Ocean Beach/John and Jessie Kelley Half Marathon on Saturday, starting and finishing at Ocean Beach Park in New London. Norstrom went on to win the race for the second time. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)

    New London – Alex Norstrom had just run 13.1 miles through an outdoor pizza oven, crossing the finish line Saturday morning to some golf claps well before anyone else, amid August’s hellish heat, haze and humidity.

    Two things to note: He wasn’t breathing particularly hard. And he was – understandably as noted later – a bit preoccupied.

    “Waiting for Angie,” he said, not having strayed far from the finish line, forgoing much water or a fire hose dousing. “I think she’s got a chance to win it.”

    Norstrom, the winner of the 60th Ocean Beach/John & Jessie Kelley Half Marathon, alluded to his girlfriend, Angie Rafter, who would (quite soon after, actually) win the women’s division in record time. Turns out that, yes, love is patient, love is kind … and love also can be awash in shin splints.

    “Running,” Rafter, 22, of Moosup, would say later, “is our love language.”

    A rather declarative one at that. Norstrom, now a repeat winner of this race, finished in 1 hour, 11 minutes, 14 seconds, a smidge slower than last year’s winning time of 1:10:23. Rafter set a women’s record in 1:21:20, snapping previous holder Sydney Devore’s time of 1:22:42.

    Norstrom, 26, who works in marketing at the International Radio Union in Newington, chuckled at the idea that running could be fodder for a date night with Rafter.

    “More like a date morning,” he said. “Although she doesn’t always like to run with me because I push the pace a little bit.”

    Rafter, pursuing her Master’s at Central Connecticut State University in health psychology, said, “I love running with Alex. He makes me better and I make him better.”

    Norstrom: “It got tough when the hills came late in the race. The weather is always a challenge here because it’s August. But those hills hit late. You get some downhill stuff early, but you better be ready for the other challenges late.”

    Rafter: “There is absolutely no shade. It gives you nothing back. But I’ll also tell you what I love about this race. You get to run through neighborhoods lined with people. They’re so nice and supportive. It’s a reward for all the effort you put in.”

    Grant O’Connor of West Hartford finished second in 1:13:19, followed in the overall top 10 by Roberto Piotto (Glastonbury); Jacob Edwards (Morristown, N.J.); Morgan Kennedy (Portland); Max Aronow (Bloomfield); John Snow (Cheshire); Scott Bushey (New Haven); James White (Boston) and John Freeman (Brooklyn).

    Rafter was 13th overall. The women’s top 10 also consisted of Mary-Alex Zickefoose (Southbury); Hayley Collins (Tolland); Megan Bonney (Cambridge, Ma.); Rebecca Snelson (East Lyme); Molly Alexander (Waterford); Megan Raymond (Branford); Isabelle Evans (New York); Rebecca Carusone (Amston); Ashley O’Connell (Windham).

    m.dimauro@theday.com

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