PAWTUCKET — When Diana Davis ran up the steep incline during the first mile of the inaugural Irish 5K in Pawtucket, she didn’t just see the top males in the field.
Davis, a third-year PhD student at Brown University, also saw some green.
“I want to go to Ireland,” she said.
The 25-year-old runner took the first step to making that trip to the Emerald Isle a reality Saturday morning when she was the first woman to cross the line in front of City Hall, placing ninth overall among the 849 finishers with a time of 18 minutes, 25.1 seconds.
The 5K was the first of the three-race series of the Tour De Patrick, an event that awards the overall winners (based on combined time in the series) a trip to Ireland. The series, created by race director Charlie Breagy, continues next Sunday in Worcester with the Celtic 5K and concludes in Providence on March 19 with the St. Pat’s 5K.
“I won the St. Pat’s 5K last year and had a really good experience,” Davis said. “Charlie’s also a good friend of mine and told me about this series back in October and about the trip to Ireland. I decided right then that I was going to do it.”
Davis earned her prize with ease in Saturday’s race, posting a two-minute victory over Kasondra Iadarola (34th, 20:25.5) of Sutton, Mass.
In the men’s race, it was slightly more contested. North Kingstown’s Eric Lonergan put on a surge just before two miles to break away from Providence’s Alan Bernier and win with a 16:12.4 clocking. Bernstein was second at 16:31.3. Martin Tighe, a 52-year-old runner from Providence, was third at 17:20.2.
“I just want to see where I am at,” said Lonergan, who copped last year’s St. Pat’s 5K. “I haven’t raced yet this year. This will be the first one of many.”
The 25-year-old Lonergan, a graduate of Rhode Island College, battled Bernier in the initial stages of the out-and-back race. Running within a few strides of each other, the two runners distanced themselves from the field by the midway point of the race near McCoy Stadium.
“I know Alan pretty well,” Lonergan said. “He’s a pretty good runner so I figured I would pace off him.”
Lonergan made his decisive move for the title right around St. Raphael Academy on Walcott Street.
“It was rough with the wind and the hills and it started to catch up with me, especially in that third mile,” said Bernier, an assistant women’s track and cross-country at Brown. “I just saw Eric disappearing into the distance. He got twenty seconds on me and just kept it consistent. The last mile we were both kind of hanging on.”
For Davis, she assumed the front-runner position the minute the gun was fired from the Roosevelt Avenue start. She increased her cushion considerably as she took the left-hand turn onto Main Street shortly after for the challenging incline of the first mile.
“I was in the lead the whole way,” Davis said. “I went out kind of hard going up the hill. I looked in front of me and all I could see was men. My plan was to run hard but consistent. I went through the first mile in a little under six minutes. It was very, very windy out there.”
Davis and Lonergan will now don the Tour De Patrick Green Jersey — awarded to the individual leaders in the series after each race — at next week’s Celtic 5K, also a first-time event.
“I really hope I can keep the lead,” Davis said. “I really would like to go to Ireland).”
Irish 5K road race
Top male finishers
1. Eric Lonergan, 25, North Kingstown 16:12.4
2. Alan Bernier, 36, Providence 16:31.3
3. Martin Tighe, 52, Providence 17:20.2
4. Steve Brightman, 42, Providence 17:35.2
5. Chris Fox, 56, Rumford 17:49.2
Top female finishers
9. Diana Davis, 25, Providence 18:25.1
34. Kasondra Iadarola, 23, Sutton, Mass. 20:25.5
43. Sarah Thomas, 27, Providence 20:51.3
53. Brianna Bintz, 29, Cumberland, 21:12.1
56. Maureen Dugan Wilcox, 43, Attleboro, Mass. 21:19.1