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Herbert Masters Westport Hills

Based on the experience of some of Liz Herbert, when it comes to the Road Runners 10 miler, ignorance may be bliss. "I'd never run the course before, but I was warned about the hills, especially Bayberry Road," said the women's winner. "But it was such a nice day, I didn't really notice them."

When Nadeem Ahmad first ran the race three years ago, he was also in the dark about the challenging topography. "I got to halfway in about 27-plus and figured, 'I'm feeling good, if I pick it up over the second half I can get a PB [personal best].' Then I turned the corner onto Bayberry and crawled." Ahmad wound up winning, but it took him nearly 30 minutes to cover the second 5 miles.

Ahmad and fellow Westporter Tom Harding shared the lead for most of the first half before Harding pulled away to a 37-second win in 60:44. But his victory may have been a Pyrrhic one, as he strained a calf muscle, which will probably scrub his plans to run the 20K race in New Haven on Monday. "Right now I can barely walk," Harding said. "But we'll see how I feel in two days."

Harding was the fastest of 154 finishers who were drawn by the cool, dry air, the fifth week in a row that the summer series of races has been so blessed. The 10 races, which began with a 2.2-miler in early July, increase in distance each week, and drew a total of 1,347 finishers, up five from last year's total and close to 2004's record 1,427 finishers.

"Considering the hot, humid weather we had for most of the early races, that's great," said Laddie Lawrence, who has directed the series for 45 of its 48 years.

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