Youth and age were served in the seventh annual Chilmark Road Race on Saturday - both in the same Chilmark family.
One voice in the throng at the race awards ceremony at the Chilmark Community Center asked the age of the winner.
“Oh, 20,” replied David Alden of Chilmark and Brookline.
The Brown University sophomore cross-country star broke the 3.1-mile course record in the seventh annual race by 17 seconds. His time of 14 minutes, 59 seconds left him a full minute ahead of second-place Bruce MacMahon, and so far ahead of nearly 1,000 other also-rans that he could almost have showered and shaved and boiled the lobster he won for his effort by the time a Gazette reporter crossed the same finish line on Middle Road at Beetlebung Corner...exactly six minutes later.
A Chilmark entrant since 1979, David Alden surprised few followers who watched him finish third in 1983 and second last year, and train 70 to 90 miles a week to prepare for the coming cross-country season at Brown.
“Three, two, one...I guess it’s like a countdown,” he said after the race.
The surprise came five minutes and 53 seconds later, wearing a rising sun singlet and bearing the name Vernon Alden. The father of the winner was the top finisher older than 60, outrunning all but about 170 of the field. Signs and cheers greeted the elder Mr. Alden throughout the Middle Road course. Those were replaced by double-takes from spectators who looked at his age group and time, and at those of the 50-and-older runners; the slowest of the top five cruised home in 20:43.
“There isn’t one person here who doesn’t look 20 years younger,” an observer said during the awards ceremony at the Chilmark Community Center.
Vernon Alden said he took up running a year ago, at about the same time David ran an international 10-kilometer race in Moscow in 31:59.
At the opposite end of the age spectrum was Lorig Charkoudian, who outran all contestants younger than 11 in a time of 24:32. Close behind came Lauren Shweder of Chilmark in 26:27, one of several young volunteers who Friday night withstood the whines and grumbles of many alleged adults waiting in line at the community center to pick up their race numbers and T-shirts, which have become Vineyard talismans over the years. The only mob scenes to match it were the scramble in the chutes at the finish line and the break dance at the start, where runners spent valuable second trying to avoid multiple repeats of the Zola Budd-Mary Decker collision in the Olympic 3,000 meters.
Such scenes have race organizers considering a number of changes in the annual event to benefit the community center. Already, the growth of the field from fewer than 200 in 1978 to more than 1,000 on Saturday has compelled them to put entrants and finishers on computer. Which is fine as long as it doesn’t break down, as it did on director Hugh Weisman Friday night.
So along with those numbers and T-shirts, race organizers this year asked registrants to answer a survey printed on the runner information sheet. The survey asks runners whether they want to see the size of the field strictly limited, or the course lengthened to five miles or even 10 kilometers (6.2 miles). Mr. Weisman said any changes will come only after a lot of consideration, even to the possibility of a short fun run along with the longer race.
“I wouldn’t want to cut out the kids,” he said.